Part Five
in Beyond Ambiguity
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On an Innovative Poet’s Book, Never Published – Asked to write an introduction to a new book of poetry by Scott-Patrick Mitchell that never appeared, I wondered about the life of such texts (the book itself, the intro apropos of a ‘hidden text’). Within this book, this short chapter is an example of the evasiveness of critical text-making, where its referent is ‘lost’ or changes into something else (Scott-Patrick Mitchell’s poems would find different lives in different contexts). So the book itself becomes ambiguous, as all physical manifestations of texts are vulnerable to deletion, erasure, to loss in some form. In the first volume of this trilogy, I discussed the erasure of digital files of record I called ‘Net Death’, and in some ways this echoes that. But it’s different – the loss is only partial in the immediate, and the text written remains a moment of engagement that says something, I think, about textual practice. The direct relevance to the argument of this book resides in the following quote: ‘Love and desire, lust and consummation, are not about imposition. Again and again, these are poems of rights, poems of language’s possibility to extend outside the status quo, to particularise and universalise at once, over and over, but to know respect and intactness of self and community.’ Scott-Patrick Mitchell identifies as ‘non-binary’, and it should be said clearly here that this does not necessarily accord with ‘ambiguity’. The defining of ‘non-binary’ as ‘ambiguous’ is completely at odds with the affirming decision-making behind identity. Such ‘definitions’ are beyond ambiguity, and only those who see a binary in gender will construct a discourse. In their poetry, Mitchell deals with ambiguity of language and even situations and interfaces with world, but this is not via an ambiguity of identity. Sexuality and desire are central to the poet’s poetics, but they are not fixed by even the language they use.

Beyond Ambiguity

Tracing literary sites of activism

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