For the past few years, I have been writing poetry that speculates on nearer locations. The not-so-distant-future that is simultaneously also The End. I have come to see how death is close. It lives inside us. I have experienced and witnessed it, and it’s too dire for me to write directly. It blinds me as I compose. The speculative mode assists me, offers me farsightedness to look past the light that wants to bleach my eyes.
The flourishes of novel technologies signaling the Speculative populates these places I write. They are familiar gestures that invite us into a semi-unfamiliar place, bonbons on the pillow of the science fiction universe we chose to check in to. Certain amenities are expected. But I am more interested in how our encounters with difference, with death, with the name inside us we don’t know, will have transformed us through and through. I meditate often on Stanislaw Lem’s Solaris, the utter destruction and wreckage he chronicled in that Encounter with the vast, alien Other.
All this is to say that the Speculative re-posits our being. Are we strange to ourselves? Are we strange to ourselves yet? How about now?
Speculative Poetics lets me ask and ask this question. Yes, we are becoming strange to ourselves. And these shapes that I run after—they return me to me. To you. To us here. But there’s renewed freedom to move in such a way, to write in such a mode. It might be the purest poetry I know.