The Coathangers Parasite

[Suicide Squeeze; 2017]

Styles: [de-]extended-punk, lyric shard, “Ladies voices together and then she came in”
Others: Anne Carson, Sappho, Gertrude Stein

“Brackets imply a free space of imaginal adventure.”
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In a then when we were younger, all our manifestos were mixtapes, poetries poached as coached communications. What’s it like to want? We stood on sides of creeks and seas. We were each other’s passenger seats. Did we know? [We didn’t know.] How could we? [We couldn’t.] We said: Everyone says something, but no one says everything; we’ll put what we mean in brackets.
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[“And I heard you saying something/ Was it all about me?”]
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In letters simple and extraordinary, Anne Carson writes: “Brackets are an aesthetic gesture toward the papyrological event rather than an accurate record of it.” If Not, Winter, Carson’s translations of the fragmented remains of Sappho’s verse, uses brackets to communicate unknowns and frustrations. For Carson, these unknowns and frustrations are the eroded spaces of the papyrus scroll that stood for all of Sappho’s words we’d never get. In emptiness, a poetry. In fragments, a whole. (“This is an amiable fantasy [transparency of self] within most translators labor. If light appears
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[For us, I think, brackets seemed able to get beyond seeming, a space to trip into what it might mean to mean it. Text was treacherous. Parentheses felt self-obsessive. What’s it like to want? And I heard you saying something: was it all about me? Was us about
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“But you, O blessed one, smiled in your deathless face/ And asked what (now again) I have suffered and why (now again) I am calling out / And what I want to happen most of all in my crazy heart. Whom should I persuade (now again) to lead you back into her love? Who, O Sappho, is wronging you?”
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we undo the cloth.”
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A punk record is a gesture toward the meaning-making [deconstruction] event, not an accurate record of it. The same swirling truth of Carson’s brackets is in The Coathangers punk, is in the meaning and feeling [tingle] of Parasite, the old aversion to silence. Carson: “I am never quite sure how to hear Sappho’s echo but, now and again, reading these old citations, there is a tingle.” Coathangers: “Silence got me feeling down down down down.

We feel down down down, we squirm under translations to get at truths. Brackets stand for what we can’t see, what we desire. Translating is an art of [how] means; art is [translated] “what we mean.” The meaning-making phenomenon is two-fold, deciphering expressions (decoding the data we’re given) and expressings (the matter of what we give off). We met as critics (expression) and poets (expressing) and called it punk, all the shards plucked from wholes and systems.

What means punk? The cut and jag of The Coathangers arc is the underground sound, the stompbox woman of Stein’s Ladies’ Voices. It’s Le Deuxième Sexe as vinyl bin and spilled beer, the line of loud ladies punking out of muggy Atlanta’s 2007 through the snot (Scramble) and brat (Larceny and Old Lace) and sharp (Suck My Shirt) and stomp (Nosebleed Weekend). The Coathangers remind us that the Muses are the original shout, the hearth and lantern leading us back to transparency of self. Ithaca’s king can rot en mast; we’re here for de Beauvoir’s (and the cover art’s) siren: “Once she ceases to be a parasite, the system based on her dependence crumbles; between her and the universe, there is no longer any need for a masculine mediator.”

What means Parasite? Parasite is
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“Tongue breaks and thin/ Fire is racing under skin/ And in eyes no sight and drumming fills ears”
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a few songs long, an EP addendum to last year’s Nosebleed Weekend. Nosebleed Weekend sought poetry from pieces; reading the parts (expressions) of what a whole can sound like, Parasite is an expressing art of shard; it does not want to cohere. It wants in and out, to prod truth into 2017 with the body horror dweller of the title track, the false-start chug (“Captain’s Dead”), the surfing and face-planting into transparency like “Drifter”
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[like Drift baby, drift baby/ Drive into the sea,” meaning what it’s like to want. “And I heard you saying something/ Was it all about me?”
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it wasn’t. We made peace with piece, with our mix tapes and wants, and we figured out how to live in[out]side brackets. Caroline Rayner and Lorde (and Stein: “ladies voices together and then she came in”) call romance a thing, lyricize that “the thing becomes the universe.” The thing [what it’s like to want] is helping each other, not hurting ourselves, redefining meaning “And cold sweat holds me and shaking/ Grips me all, greener than grass/ I am and dead — or almost I seem to me/ But all is to be dared, because even a person of poverty”]
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brief and tinny like dreams, three women in shards, all that is to be dared. Parasite is only a few songs long; how could it be emblematic of lives, yours or mine or The Coathangers?

It’s not. And of course it is. Parasite means in fragments a whole. Poetry and punk.

Fragments are arts. Erosion edits wholes, keeps them honest. Sappho is what gets left behind, what constitutes romance and the thing. Anne Carson is what translates the lost. Brackets are lost stuff. What it means is the papyrological event, the piecing together, the transparency of discovery. Parasite takes what we give off, shows us what’s in us. Us being (now again) implies a free space of imaginal adventure.

And in that space, me and you and all our pieces
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