Selected by Fady Joudah as a winner of the 2017 National Poetry Series, Jos Charles’s revolutionary second collection of poetry, feeld, is a lyrical unraveling of the circuitry of gender and speech, defiantly making space for bodies that have been historically denied their own vocabulary.
“i care so much abot the whord i cant reed.” In feeld, Charles stakes her claim on the language available to speak about trans experience, reckoning with the narratives that have come before by reclaiming the language of the past. In Charles’s electrifying transliteration of English—Chaucerian in affect, but revolutionary in effect—what is old is made new again. “gendre is not the tran organe / gendre is yes a hemorage.” “did u kno not a monthe goes bye / a tran i kno doesnt dye.” The world of feeld is our own, but off kilter, distinctly queer—making visible what was formerly and forcefully hidden: trauma, liberation, strength, and joy.
Urgent and vital, feeld composes a new narrative of what it means to live inside a marked body.
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Praise and Prizes
“In Jos Charles’s irreplaceable and enticing feeld, the future of American poetry turns out to be the early medieval past. That future is slippery and overstuffed with puns, like Spenser, or like Joyce, except way more trans. Squares of parchment, scraps from market gardens, ‘hewman partes,’ privacy and the publicity of a language that has to be turned inside out and backward in order to engender, and not to misgender, what Charles wants to bring into our own time . . . ‘i am afrayde / i am riting myeself.’ Don’t be afraid. Go and listen. It should no longer be ‘tragyck / bieng undre / stood.’”
“To reimagine a language of one’s age is perhaps poetry’s essential task. As Chaucerian English into the digital twenty-first century, feeld is in elite company, and is arguably unheralded in its lyric inventiveness. It’s an archeology of the present (‘wee wer so nashenal’) and an anagram of the genetic code that is the body (‘lorde i am 1 / lorde i am 2 / lorde i am infinate’). Where language is weaponized, feeld is a whistleblower, a reclamation of art’s domain. . . . A rare find.”
“An ‘inscription’ that belies its potential ‘equivalencies.’ A scene like a ‘stall,’ the ‘entrance to an institution.’ Reading Jos Charles’s feeld, I entered, as you are, the ‘thynge’ of the book: its glottal, pre-English or about-English memory. ‘bieng tran is a unique kinde off organe / i am speeching materialie / i am speeching abot hereditie,’ writes Charles, turning the mouth of a reader into an ear, as these lines are read, or imagined.”