restricted access Body of Work

From: Circadian

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92 BODY OF WORK INTRODUCTION Welearnedthisinschool.Wereforce-fedtheessay’sacceptable appearance, all our thoughts squeezed into five paragraphs. If/ then statement. If we write within the standardized confines, then we prohibit explorations of an essay’s true beauty. We’re taught the expected infrastructure. The bare bones of persuasive narrative. Introduce, provide three bodies of proof, conclude . But. Creativity lives in our bones—pulses in the pith of what makes us. How we thrive in a variety of forms. Like our bodies. Life wanting to move away from social conceptions of beauty, away from standardized bodies, size zero, the expected texts of our looks. Like the confines of structured writing. Acceptable language. Graded. The expected looks of our texts. But narratives are alive and moving (the memoir of scars, the poetry of clavicles, our lungs’ language). Let’s get to the heart of the matter. We could follow the rules of canon, of grammar, of the five-paragraph form, but the parameters of expression take on different shapes. Always have. We could continue to follow rules of restriction, of thin skin, of showing our bones, but the dimensions of our physical forms want more. Different shapes. Always have. Body of Work | 93 BODY I: WRITING SKELETAL FRACTURES We press against the tenuous fences between poetry and fiction and nonfiction and humor and critical writing and academic writing and blogging and every other genre that has ever existed, ever, in order to discover how to discuss our lives. Stretch through our porous boundaries of self, of genre, to touch what’s on the other side. Hybridize. Here in these inbetween spaces, narrative rules no longer apply. Hybrids help. Hybrids show us how to rethink, resist, grow. Regrowth. How to read differently, write inversely, away from the boxes. Writing is alive like a body. Kazim Ali: “The text is a body because it is made of the flesh and breath and blood of a writer. The mind which declares intention is a collecting of senses. And memories. Chemically it is invented in the brain. Thought is matter.” No matter how we have been told to write, our writing is a forever growing thing and it can grow away from expectations. Born anew in new forms. Throw the skeletons of standardized writing into the closet and forget about them. Find the key, lock it, then lose it. Ander Monson: outlines, indexes, his periodic snow. Jill Talbot: syllabus. Michelle Morano: Spanish grammar. And more: questionnaires and lists and prosetry and letters and textual adventures. Mathematical problems, even. Lauren Slater: maybe a fake memoir. Sherman Alexie and Tobias Wolff and their autobiographical novels. Jo Ann Beard: braided. John McPhee: woven. Lawrence Sutin’s postcards. Sven Birkerts’ objects. Renovate self and paint the world with blue. Maggie Nelson. I have an affinity for hermit crabs. Structure courting content, perfectly juxtaposed to make a (w)holy matrimony of form. To disor- 94 | Chelsey Clammer ganize our thoughts, to let the form live as it wants to live. Such as prose poems, lyric essays, mosaic stories, crossword puzzle interviews, poeticized science. Forever restructure the structure. Transform. BODY II: RESTRUCTURING THE FRACTURED BODY The head is how we introduce ourselves. Words. Eye contact. A nod of introduction, recognition. What’s up? Past the main three segments of our bodies—arms, abdomen, legs—we reach the conclusion that’s lying there, right between our legs. Because what will become of us? Come from us? Come out of us? Beginnings and endings can form into unique shapes and values with a personalized purpose (the face, desire), but it’s the body that’s regulated. Marya Hornbacher says, “We turn skeletons into goddesses.” The narrative of normativity. The strive for zero. It’s not for nothing, though, as I’ve been told that a part of joy is sorrow. The almost literally foughtto -the-death zero that eventually (hopefully) goes away, fades. How to allow this? Acceptance of self. Reject the fairy tale of being s(t)ick thin and all those expectations. And how a body can move away from this, can work against it by creating a new text of physical self. Cut up the archetype. Expose the horror story we believe our bodies to be, solve the mystery of how we can fit in this world by simply fitting in with ourselves (acceptance, yes), and get real here—get a thrill out of living creative-nonfictionally. This is my body. Fact. This is what it says. Create. Crack open the...


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