Wire and Wail is by turns autobiographic, scientific, philosophic, and religious. Lusia Slomkowska wrote that after her second open-heart surgery, her physical limitations show up in her poems… not as crowns of thorns, but as other symbols of anger and grief: her shattered aortic valve was replaced with a porcine valve, making her a “pig-human hybrid,” or a “chimera.” In scientific terms, a chimera is a mixture of two or more species in one body. The procedure is called a xenotransplantation (transplant between organisms of different species), and the Greek word Xenos suggests several English words, including stranger, guest, alien, foreign, and strange, which also become themes in this book. Bioethics and religion enter the mix in questions like: Does a chimera have a soul? What are the long-term effects on humanity? And, what about animal rights?
Wire & Wail will officially launch on April 29, 2017, at the Tucson Poetry Festival, where Lusia will be honored. Books will be available for purchase. More about the TPF here.
A reading of Lusia’s poems will take place on April 22, 2017, 7pm at Woman Kraft Gallery, 388 S. Stone Ave. Tucson, AZ.
Praise for Wire & Wail
This book is as heart wrenching as it is smart. In it we find the richly embedded human record of animals and organs, science and thought—the logic of flesh, this house of cells—parsed into music and put to the test. What encourages me best about these poems is what sears me most and deepest: lines drawn with the frightful precision of a lance opening the hollows. Each turn of phrase administers another opening in the wilds (part data, part flesh) with its challenge to brace and burst, learn and heal. ~Barbara Cully
With dynamic linguistic energy and sharp intelligence, Wire and Wail ranges through cybernetics, the music of Mozart, the anatomical studies of Leonardo da Vinci, DNA research and the making of new hybrid creatures, to try and answer what the human heart is. Lusia Slomkowska’s answer is, finally, that it is a “hymn to evolution,” for all that, it is also a chimera, a machine that falters, a valve in need of stitching. Evoking the life and death struggle of individual existence, the poet sings her hymn at such a pitch that it resonates with the 21st century. ~Rebecca Seiferle
Excerpt from Wire & Wail
The wind comes into the weeping
Of ancient trees as does the hat that sits above
The throat caught as raw as the sky splitting
The cardinal a winged structure
Accommodating box elder centered
An enclosed heart, this moon this moon, ancestral
The hat the hat birthday party brass band
Brass ring caught the evening light
A small boat lit out I, throated sky
A star or a tooth? a pinion & a rope The one with the moon weeping above Ancient trees tall throats split as
Who knew a forest a small adjustment
Was growing there? the heart, trilled note?
No! oh! bag of worms! fallen of season
Calendars indifferent words too, frozen
Then, angels anyone who knew knew
It couldn’t have been otherwise the worms as