A lyrically and formally innovative exploration of desire and its cost
DEED, the follow-up to torrin a. greathouse's 2022 Kate Tufts Discovery Award winning debut, Wound from the Mouth of a Wound, is a formally and lyrically innovative exploration of queer sex and desire, and what it can cost. Sprawling across art, eros, survival, myth, etymology, and musical touchstones from Bruce Springsteen to Against Me!, this new book both subverts and pays homage to the poetic canon, examining an artistic lineage that doesn't always love trans or disabled people back. Written in a broad range of received and invented forms—from caudate sonnets and the sestina, to acrostics and the burning haibun—DEED indicts violent systems of carceral, medical, and legal power which disrupt queer and disabled love and solidarity, as well as the potentially vicarious manner in which audiences consume art. This collection is a poetic triptych centered on the question of how, in spite of all these complications, to write an honest poem about desire. At its core, DEED is a reminder of how tenderness can be made a shield, a weapon, or a kind of faith, depending on the mouth that holds it.
I'm clocked by etymology,
by the way even stilettos take their name
from a knife. The way a knife, well-honed,
can strip anything to the bone. Bear
with me, sometimes even the myths grow
blurry in the distance. The root of Artemis,
goddess of the hunt, is still unknown,
but likely comes from artamos—butcher.
Let's call this a kind of etymythology,
post hoc history; let's call Artemis
the root. For her wild heart. Her failed
femininity. Goddess of gender-fucked
girls. Crooked prayer. The word worship
is shaped from two shards—meaning worth
& its giving. A mouth gives faith shape
like clay. I mean that to pray is to god
a God. To be butch & butcher
the myth of a son, was to make
a goddess of myself.
T4T • Etymythology • Masturbating to Greek Myths • Swallow / Swallowed / Swallowing • Oral History: a Triptych • Aubade Beginning in Handcuffs • On Possession • Gilt: A Matrilineage • My Mouth is the Mouth of a River • I Was Looking for Dick & All I Got Was This Lousy Poem • Ekphrasis on Nude Selfie as Portrait of Saint Sebastian • Anti-Ode for the Transportation Security Administration • Bondage Device: Cross • Gait Training • In Praise of the Rimjob • I Am Beginning to Mistake the Locust's Song for Silence • Dancing in the Dark • Dream Ending in a Lover Burning My Mother's Wedding Gown • Double Sonnet for Transgender Dysphoria Blues • While Researching the Etymology of Punk, I Discover a Creation Myth Buried in the Liner Notes • I Want to Write an Honest Poem About Desire • Root • Belt is Just Another Verb for Song • Nocturne • Vanitas Vanitatum • As My English Class Debates the Legality of Gay Marriage, I Daydream of the Boy I am Beginning to Fall in Love With • Elegy for Craigslist Personals • On Confinement • Aubade with Holes in It • It's Blood That Makes Men Hard • There's No Trace of the Word "Transgender" in Adrienne Rich's Biography • Serenity Prayer with Complete Citations • Dead Name Elegy with Strap-On • A Novel Dysfunction • In an Operating Room Outside the Cis Woman's Imagination • A Dead Shark Isn't Art • On Distortion • Cripple Sex Manifesto • SICK4SICK • Notes • Acknowledgements
TORRIN A. GREATHOUSE is a transgender cripple-punk poet and essayist. Their debut collection Wound from the Mouth of a Wound (2020), was the winner of the 2022 Kate Tufts Discovery Award. She teaches at the Rainier Writing Workshop, the low-residency MFA program at Pacific Lutheran University.
"torrin a. greathouse is in language's thrall. She knows a word turns flesh into egress, renders anatomy anomaly, and buries girls like her in ravenous appetites. To read her stunning DEED is to learn hunger's grammar and be changed."~Douglas Kearney, author of Sho
"At last! In DEED, torrin a. greathouse has forged a new record—blistering & radiant—of a seemingly audacious contemporary conceit: the trans crip body on its own terms. These poems are resolute in their agency, urgent with desire, & fashioned with greathouse's signature skill for calling up & in a hostile lineage that does not always deserve her lyric ingenuity. This is the book I have been waiting for. 'Crooked prayer' indeed. Amen."~Meg Day, author of Last Psalm at Sea Level