Full Metal Oji-Cree

Joshua Whitehead

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this is the transsensorium

there are indo-robo-women fighting cowboys on the frontier

& winning finally

the premodern is a foundation for the postmodern

wintermute, tessier-ashpool, armitage

theyve revived us via neuromancy

but i am the necromancer

when i tell my mother i need kin

she sends me ten

weve all been subjected to zombie imperialism

dying in the sprawl of night city wpg

your world feels ontological

because it is the nexus of adaptation & appropriation

old abelardlindsay|abrahamlincoln told me

that i was too loyal to my gene-line

that the point is that “we” live

i tell him there is no “i” in that “we”

— never was

theres no room for white superiority in indigeneity

we were surviving

we are surviving

ive nullified your terra myths

i am more than props & backdrops

i am terræ filius

u: neocolumbus

i am terra full[ofus]

(do ndns in space become settlers too[questionmark])

now is our time

to show off our copper skin, shimmer

free-fall headdress & robomoccasins

this pink & white gridwork is my technobeadwork

our (ab)use value has increased

i am the punk in amer[in]cyber[dian]

the posthuman is innately ndn

when novelty is horrific

i tell you: this is the extraterrarium

were not mothers, were police

the prehuman becomes the precursor to (rez)urrect

the posthuman in the transhuman

so fuck you

well survive this too

like the cat ive nine times to die

like the woman i ask:

how can you live so large

& leave so little for the rest of us[questionmark]

ive outlived colonial virology

slayed zombie imperialism

us ndns sure are some bad ass biopunks

            wearesurvivingthrivingdyingtogetitright

This poem is an excerpt of a longer poem.

Joshua Whitehead, "Full Metal Oji-Cree" from full-metal indigiqueer. Copyright © 2017 by Talonbooks.

Source: full-metal indigiqueer (Talonbooks, 2017)

Dive in: 

1.     Transsensorium, biopunks, technobeadwork, etc. What’s your favorite sci-fi or speculative detail in this poem?

2.     “Wintermute, tessier-ashpool, armitage” are very specific literary references. What (sub)genre(s) do they connect the poem with?

3.     How do you read “zombie imperialism,” one of the poem’s only apocalyptic formulations that repeats exactly? An imperialism of zombies, or a zombie-like imperialism? How does the answer change the poem for you?

4.     The futuristic continually intervenes on the historical in this poem (and vice-versa). What do you make of “abelardlindsay” being attached to “abrahamlincoln”? And in light of the speaker removing themself from the “we” they represent?

5.     In a single word answer, what does “Full Metal” bring to the poem from the get-go?

6.     Does the poem bring Indigeneity to the speculative, or the speculative to Indigeneity? How is your reading of the poem changed by the one or the other?

7.     The poem smushes a lot of words together: “ive,” “technobeadwork,” maybe most notably “wearesurvivingthrivingdyingtogetitright,” etc. It also makes generative use of brackets: “amer[in]cyber[dian],” “(rez)urrect,” “[questionmark],” among others. Exploring these gestures as opportunities for emphasis, wordplay, and performance, play around with the options for each of these particularities out loud. Be really deliberate with the way you deliver them, and consider how they change the vibe of your recitation.

8.     There’s something to be said for figuring out where you’ll end up in the poem first. Think about your own communities, genre interests, and relationship to the apocalypse, and compose your own personal analog to Whitehead’s final word, “wearesurvivingthrivingdyingtogetitright.” Now compose a poem toward your chosen final word.

 

Useful Links

 

CBC Interview with Joshua Whitehead

 

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