[09/14/2021] Villainy by Andrea Abi-Karam
Nightboat Books, paperback
Publication Date: September 14, 2021
Publisher Marketing: Harnessing street protest as a poetic formation, Villainy exhibits the desires that bring queers into public space.
Andrea Abi-Karam answers the call to action for poetry itself to become the radical accomplice it was destined to be in their second book, Villainy. In order to live through the grief of the Ghostship Fire & the Muslim Ban, Villainy foments political action in public spaces, and indexes the various emotional states, such as rage, revelry, fear, grief, and desire to which queers must tend during protest. In scenes loaded with glitter, broken glass, and cum, Abi-Karam insists that in order to shatter the rising influence of new fascism we must embrace the collective work of antifascists, street medics, and queer exhibitionists and that the safety that we risk is reckless and necessary. Disruptive and demanding, these punk poems embody direct action and invite the audience into the desire-filled slippage between public sex and demonstration. At heart, Villainy aims to destroy all levels of hierarchy to establish a participatory, temporary autonomous zone in which the targeted other can thrive.
"In an industry that encourages the toothless, Andrea Abi-Karam's propulsive Villainy calls: 'give the poem teeth.' In an industry that incants, this book incites, revealing the revolutionary potential of desire, of determined disfiguration, of poetry itself, which, in Abi-Karam's hands and ways becomes, as the street, a site of unbounded action. Here is a poetry that demolishes poetry. A fire to our fascist order. A book fully alive."--Solmaz Sharif
"As the war machine creates new casualties and new ways to produce them, Andrea Abi-Karam creates a new language and a new form to express their desire to shake the American public out of its lethargy. They bring their generosity of heart mixed to a real courage, as they do the opposite of what we do: Andrea 'goes into it', as we say, they look in the face the incredible suffering that weapons which replaced rain shower on the people of the world. Pain is singular, it reaches its targets one at a time, and they seem to follow every soldier hurt as well as every individual they themselves killed or maimed. In these days of indifference to naked reality, Andrea dares to be a writer of humanism, they dare to remind us that each one of us is somehow responsible for everything that is done in our name."--Etel Adnan
"We live in a country that has mastered the art of using our brains against us. I look to poets who comprehend this and employ new vocabularies and forms to emblazon paths--new neural hallways lead to threshold decisions about how to live our day to day lives. Andrea Abi-Karam has written a singular and imperative text landing on a way to acquire our maximum potential as rebel beings who can kill coercion dead so we can move together 'beyond this one type of experience, ' perhaps the most threatening, and frightening, act we can take as beings." --Stacy Szymaszek
What happens when a poetics of 'the soft body' prompts a 'suite of vengeance poems'? What happens when participatory punks start blurring distinctions between being 'on stage' or 'in the crowd' at a poetry reading? When I want to ask such questions, I pose them to Andrea Abi-Karam."--Andy Fitch, BLARB