interesting, surreal, difficult, unbelievable, ridiculous / by Laura Kochman

As someone whose forthcoming book title contains the word “body,” I have some anxiety about including that term in the book’s announcement of itself, even though the word occurs throughout the text anyway, and even though it’s a large part of the book’s concern. I worry because there are so many poetry books and poems about the body, and I hesitate to follow a trend for trend’s sake. But I wrote the book the way that I wrote it because of itself, and not to be part of a moment, so I kept the title (and, let’s be real, I also kept writing about the body and using the word body, because I am trying to cultivate an attitude of fearlessness when it comes to content and form).

But I was thinking about this again today—why do so many poets think so often of the body? I mean, I find it infinitely interesting, surreal, difficult, unbelievable, ridiculous, etc. so I can’t blame anyone else for thinking the same. When I say "the body" I don't even necessarily mean a human body, and certainly not an idealized body, but the materiality of containment. Perhaps it's not that poets are into the body, but that writers interested in the body are drawn to poetry because it is inherently concerned with form. If the body is difficult to define, so is poetic form. For me, form can invoke the multiple and the simultaneous, as well as the specific and singular. Not only is it a constant morphing, but it also draws attention to itself in that way. Even a poem that doesn’t step outside of accepted forms asks you to pay attention to the way it appears in the world, just by declaring itself a poem. And that’s what I can’t get over—the way we appear in the world. The way bodies are multiple and simultaneous and overlapping, if you pay attention.