Stephanie Goehring is co-author, with Jeff Griffin, of the poetry chapbook I Miss You Very Much (Slim Princess Holdings, 2011/13) and author of the poetry chapbook This Room Has a Ghost (dancing girl press, 2010). A freelance writer, editor, copy editor, and proofreader, as well as former college writing and literature instructor, Stephanie can be reached about freelance work opportunities at SLGoehring (at) gmail (dot) com. As a poet, her honors include: semi-finalist for The Waywiser Press’ 10th annual Anthony Hecht Poetry Prize; semi-finalist for the 2012 “Discovery” / Boston Review prize; and winner of the 2011 John Logan Poetry Prize, selected by D.A. Powell.
I recently started—for therapeutic reasons & because I don’t have a printer—tracing images: a diagram from psychologist Erich Neumann’s book The Great Mother; a photograph of me washing the dishes as a young girl, two large knives resting on the counter to my left; an adult black vulture in flight; an excerpt from writer & visual artist Etel Adnan’s The Spring Flowers Own. I say therapeutic because I’m human / because I’ve been hurt. Tracing requires & my psychiatrist said I could learn to make my hands stop shaking.
I’m learning my instinct is to hold the pencil too tightly. The way I pit my teeth against each other in my sleep. I’m learning how much tracing, this animation, requires choreography. To prevent smearing / your hands / everything gone gray from going black. I’m thinking about how this consideration of the body, this specific movement mark-making requires means a person drawing is a person dancing. About how the other day Emily seemed hurt to hear I don’t go dancing. How I wrote that one essay about you that closes with an image of me tracing bedsheets for a ghost’s hand.
For the past month or so, I’ve been working on a long poem called Curtsy that is some kind of gendered epic / dissociative myth of the body, girl and boy. And I’m learning myth in my life, turning street corners & smacking into a body unseen, helpless to stop the body’s stack of books as they drop to the ground.
Here are some things I’m reading & rereading as I make Curtsy.
String Quartet in E Flat Major: III. Romanze
composed by Fanny Mendelssohn Hensel
performed by the Merel Quartet
This string quartet composed by Fanny Mendelssohn Hensel, who has been described as having been “almost unfathomabl[y] close” to her brother composer Felix Mendelssohn, is exquisite as a whole, but this devastating movement (& there’s movement again) in particular is on repeat as I write Curtsy.
I told my roommate & long-time brother Max Brooks recently that I look at my own Instagram feed the way I used to watch TV. With its tiny digital siblings of the swaying & twitching landscapes he paints around me in our home, I look at his Instagram feed the way I used to swing on park swings when I was a little girl—before it started to make me feel sick. Before I lost something in the hills.
We, the Masses
based on artwork by Robyn O’Neil; written by Eoghan Kidney & O’Neil; animated by Kidney, Ciaran Crowley & Mark Flood; directed by Kidney
Before we fell and rocked & soiled a face against the earth.
I can’t stop watching this expansive work based on the obsessively detailed doomed & blooming graphite drawings for which artist Robyn O’Neil is known. Specifically as regards my writing Curtsy, I keep considering We, the Masses as movement the way making a mark is a movement / the way Romanze is a movement / the way that kind of movement means a section of a whole / like gender.
“‘I See Fire” freestyle, FRONTROW, World of Dance, Dallas, 2015
dance peformed by Fik-Shun
music performed by Jasmine Thompson
Gender as a phrase. The phrasing of “other.” Did you know a dance is made of phrases? Phrase as in a series of movements. Fik-Shun’s freestyle here (he is obviously intimately involved with the song he is dancing to, but this is a freestyle in the sense that it is not a wholly choreographed routine / his phrases here are based on improvisation sessions, movement studies, embodied tracings, if you will, of his moving body positioned & repositioned against the piece of music) — each time I watch this tremendous performance these days I’m thinking about choreography as an attempt to prevent a specific kind of smudging & how, in his response to crisis & carnage, Fik-Shun is offering his body to articulate / to animate what must feel an inevitable smudging of his brothers.
The What’s Underneath Project: “Alok Vaid-Menon”
interview with ritual clothing removal
And how we are drawn by those who see our bodies.
performed by Jayne Torvill & Christopher Dean
music (“January Stars”) composed & performed by George Winston
And how we can draw ourselves together & cover our faces with our hands.
Come hang out with Stephanie at the Conflict of Interest book hub (located at pump project, 702 Shady Ln.) this weekend during E.A.S.T. She will thoughtfully curate book stacks specifically to your taste!