Authors / Events

Celebrating the polyvocal launch of Tressing Motions at the Edge of Mistakes

Briana Gwin — 03/11/2024

On February 22, Milkweed Editions hosted a virtual launch event to celebrate the publication of Imane Boukaila’s Tressing Motions at the Edge of Mistakes: Poems. The book is the fourth addition to Multiverse, a literary series curated by—and devoted to—neurodiverse voices. Boukaila was joined by Multiverse editor, Chris Martin, who moderated the event, and four poets selected by Boukaila to “give voice” to their favorite poems from her book. The launch concluded with a dazzling “homing rally,” a collaborative poetry exercise open to all.

Among the many feats Multiverse has accomplished in the years since its inception, the series continually expands what poems do, transforming the way readers “read” on the page: nowhere is this more evident than in Boukaila’s latest collection. Throughout Tressing Motions, constructions of words are assembled into nearly recognizable forms and shapes before re- or dis-assembling themselves pages later. For readers, this breadth offers an experience that surpasses the cerebral and embraces the somatic. The effect is as electrifying as it is inspiring: for Boukaila, the sixteen-year-old nonspeaking autistic author of this work, the page is rendered an unrestricted canvas. Her book becomes a tangible route of connection to the outside world, a bold and unapologetic transference of the kinds of “tressing” truths that cannot be put plainly.

After a gracious introduction of Boukaila and her four honored poets (Moheb Soliman, Lara Mimosa Montes, Aviv Nisinzweig, and Laura Hendrickson), Martin took a moment to honor Boukaila’s work with the following statement: “We’re here to celebrate this book—a visionary collection that offers up a liberatory philosophy that exists to meet others at the periphery, thresholding in all the places where life opens toward neurodivergent revolution.”

The readings commenced. Each poet serendipitously gravitated to a different portion of the book, with Soliman kicking things off with a reading of the opening pages of the work. Boukaila remained mostly visible for the duration of the reading, her excitement summed up in her own words near the end of the event: “OMG I’m tressing motions to the tilted beats of fascinating minds.”

Then came the moment of (tressing) truth: it was time to attempt an experimental collaboration: “I will ask Imane for a prompt,” Martin explained, “to set us off down the stream, and then, as you feel moved, type a line into the chat. After ten minutes, we will read what has happened.” After a few moments, Boukaila surrendered her beautifully improvised line to the audience, but not before thanking her editor in her own unique way: “Chris tilts the stillest minds,” she wrote. And then, for her prompt, she added, “trouting trials timing streams.” What ensued was ten minutes of silent, improvised collaboration between strangers in a virtual space. Click the audio recording below to hear the result—a blissful stream of pure, unhindered poetry.

Soundcloud URL

In the final moments of the event, Martin concluded with a summary of the evening’s significance: “This is a book that is important for countless reasons, but one of the things I want to say about it here is how much I want to thank you, Imane, for giving me the vocabulary to describe my own experience, and to expand the vocabulary I have to describe my own experience. In the end, my experience grows— my ability to perceive and process the world and meet the world changes and expands. For this, I’m grateful to you and your work, and I think others will be, too.”

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Chris Martin is a tilted listening animal languaging. He teaches and learns at Unrestricted Interest and is the curator of Multiverse, a series of neurodivergent writing from Milkweed Editions. His most recent book of poems is Things to Do in Hell and his first book of nonfiction is May Tomorrow Be Awake: On Poetry, Autism, and Our Neurodiverse Future. He lives on the edge of Bde Maka Ska in Minneapolis, among the mulberries and bur oaks, with Mary Austin Speaker and their two bewildering creatures.