1. Chris Sylvester — Gain of Function


These poems are occasioned by a world of expiring contexts (though the date of total expiration remains occluded, both goad and horror). Also the fact that said expiration unfolds, unremarkably, day by day. You know what I’m talking about. Their dates of composition cluster around the emergence of COVID-19, though the sense of desperation remains consistent whether they were written before or after that particular advent. Louisa demands that I (Chris) count how long she’s been underwater, but I’m writing this so I can’t. Given the going state of affairs, the anti-natalist position is undoubtedly correct; that is to say I can’t help but agree with it. Anyway, I fathered children and these poems are conditioned by that fact—intensely and obviously so. They're likewise formatted by the understanding that human extinction is clearly accomplished in advance and so the avoidance of procreation is itself premised on a fantasy (either of hastening extinction or somehow avoiding it). And yet having children is definitely, now, a kind of intimate participation in human apocalypse. Via the production of new people no less. It is also (this has not changed) terrifying and lovely. Not surprising that one should write poems about all that.

So my children and my wife appear throughout. Also two dogs (one now dead) and several friends. As always, friends have things to say about the writing that may concern or contain some semblance of them. One of my friends says these poems are “A libidinal working through of daily life in the early years of being a parent.” I think that is true, as far as I can tell. Another friend said something like (this time I’m summarizing) these poems are about how things appear next to each other for no reason all the time. I would add that this constitutes what commonly gets called 'a life.' Another way to say it: any one of us is an extremely limited platform that regularly encounters or interfaces with very few things (often the same things over and over). I am confined to writing, for whatever reason, solely about those encounters. Finally, this book is about the notes app on my phone and the length of the lines it permits. Also the fonts. My family’s oracular statements persist throughout. What they portend is reduced to nil by our shared fate. They are beautiful for that reason and I do love them.

About the author

Alongside Holly Melgard and Joey Yearous-Algozin, Chris Sylvester has managed and maintained Troll Thread, a tumblr-based platform for experimental texts and internet-based works, since 2011. Aside from the eighteen books published on Troll Thread, he is also the author of BOOK ABT FANTASY (Roof Books, 2016), POEMS ABT ‘INTERN’ AND ‘PHIL’ THE INTERN (Area Sneaks, 2016), and MY MOM MY DAD AND ME (Gauss PDF, 2017). He lives with his family in Westborough, MA.


5.5 × 8.5 in.




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