CAConrad, EcodevianceEcodeviance: (Soma)tics for the Future Wilderness
Wave Books, $22 (paper)

We need this so bad right now: an alternative to all the shoulds, the obligations we take on ourselves to be productivedo moreknow more, and care harder so we can fix things; a counter to the stultifying and earnest gloom, self-flagellation, and resignation that is just crushing nature poetry. CAConrad’s Ecodeviance is a subversive syllabus for a queer ecopoetics, a set of twenty-three “(Soma)tic Poetry Rituals,” which are exercises, all at once, in magic, telepathy, transgression, confrontation, fantasy, wish-fulfillment, interspecies communication, self-healing, and writing. They are variously madcap and harrowing: in one, Conrad pretends to be a bee and buzzes up Walnut Street in Philadelphia with a bouquet of flowers, pollinating all the security cameras; in another, an act of forgiveness, he performs Reiki from afar to help heal a pedophile who abused his sister. Each ritual inspires poems, and Conrad entreats us, likewise, to perform (soma)tics ourselves—to take notes and let those notes be poems. I read Ecodeviance as a book about the wilderness that Conrad finds abounding in what might seem like the most trammeled of places—the city, the body, and the mind—so that wilderness comes to mean something like a consciousness that includes other consciousnesses. Conrad forges rituals to get us to speak of nature’s value right here—to “unzip the sublime.”