Introduction to Brenda Iijima

Stu Watson

What is space?

A way of marking absence.

As a written word it is its own negation.

“Tell X that speech is not dirty silence / Clarified. It is silence made still dirtier.”

Space is not silence but can be silence or the medium of sound.

The written word is never space. But space is the unwritable limit of each body. Until convergence.

Can bodies be united in a sound? A word? And what if that word, the one word, is “space”?

United voices converge into a point, which has no area, takes up no space in the Cartesian field.

A point is like the word space, then, its content its erasure.

Space can be local or ubiquitous and is.

Without space everything is touching.

Space can be occupied but will reassert itself eventually through the play of entropy.

“Space is the place.”

Brenda Iijima’s poetry investigates space and its ramifications for bodies and politics—ramifications empirical, conceptual, emotional, internal.

This selection from Iijima’s forthcoming long poem “Body Work: Bionic Communality” maps “submerged histories, gestural drama, the wild, corporeal exposure, / weather, animal interests and spasmodic vocabularies”—it is a poem engaged with the delicate interweavings of presence and absence, a charting of the corporeal form and its resonances in and reflections on the larger political, cultural world.

Iijima’s poem does not place any claims of ownership on space, yet demands we enter into an engagement with the ways our spaces, public and private, celestial and sub-atomic, might be most lovingly occupied with full awareness of our always temporary embodiment.