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
“Charles, a trans woman, turns to a sort of Chaucerian-texting hybrid in an inspired effort to find language as unstable as her experience.”
“Dazzling . . . In Charles’s hands, the language itself transitions, defamiliarized, and in its new spellings it opens to a poly-vocality where words contain hidden meanings.”
“Like the title of the collection, Charles treats language like an open field, a clearing in which something new can be built. Her re-spellings embody this philosophy, challenging readers to explore the open spaces, new meanings and, perhaps, find their place in them.”
“With language that knocks its reader off-balance, Jos Charles's feeld makes space, builds a stage, stretches out a hand, for the trans and queer bodies so often shunted to the side.”
“For linguistic boldness and experimentation, it’s hard to go wrong with the poems found in Jos Charles’s collection feeld. What emerges is a blend of seemingly archaic language used to explore the nature of gender in new and unpredictable ways—and an absolutely gripping reading experience.”
“feeld, in its mode and method, lives in the same world as Finnegans Wake—both books force us to reconsider how language transfers (and hides) meaning.”
“[feeld] is a profound body of work that’s thought-provoking and wholly visceral. Ripe with natural imagery, surprising puns, and political statements that are jarring both in their truth and placement, feeld challenges the idea that writing about nature is only for straight, white, cis men.”
“[feeld is] a totally new sound . . . an unprecedented syntax to accommodate an unprecedented experience. Every poet gropes their way towards this kind of sui generis utterance, but so few of us achieve it so absolutely.”
“Disarming and engrossing . . . The collection undoes easy divisions between interior and exterior or science and nature. . . . Throughout, readers are subject to a careful recalibration of values, as Charles shows that a form is not important because it is static but rather because of the ways it changes, moves, and is perceived.”
“Thrilling . . . Jos Charles’s collection feeld makes a bold linguistic move.”