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Diana Hamilton, Hyperintimate Poetry, & the Machine for Fighting Anxiety

Marie Buck shares a really wonderful write-up of Diana Hamilton's The Awful Truth and Some Shit Advice (2014, The Physiocrats) over at Harriet. I'm going to append some selections below, but please check out the full essay for yourself and learn more about precarity and our world-historical moment. Buck is the featured writer at Harriet this month, and you can check out the rest of her posts--on Brandon Brown and her "favorite poem"; on pleasure and political despondence--[here]. 

From Marie Buck:

What I mean to say is: while of course a lot of poetry deals with intimate topics—lyric poetry is classically about love, lust, the self, and so on—Hamilton’s Some Shit Advice and The Awful Truthactively thematize it and create a sort of hyperintimacy, the feeling that the reader is in the role of a close friend or lover or therapist. Except actually, since we’re often reading about close friends and lovers and therapists and their interactions with the speaker: the reader is somewhere even closer, communing with the speaker through the medium of the book.

[. . .]

Hamilton’s work offers a sort of antidote to anxiety by 1) explicitly describing something that is often a public secret and 2) creating a utopian vision in which we all have plenty of people to whom to confess our dreams, our weird shits, our desires, our self-consciousnesses. This is, I think, why there is so much emphasis on documents of various sorts, and why both books are presented as gatherings of other texts (advice column, found manuscript, email, etc.). The books aren’t self-expressive projections of these intimacies into an implicit public sphere of readers. Instead, through doubling personae and through the use of multiple, expanding framing devices, they create scenes in which the reader is a participant. The expanding framing and reframing devices cause us to consider the actual publication of the book as the biggest frame, a frame that includes the reader

[. . .]

We need, they say, “a machine for fighting anxiety” that would allow us to act out of desire rather than fear. Hamilton’s book is a utopia of sharing and listening that exceeds social norms—that reorients our fears about the world into desire for our friends and for our lovers and for a better world for us all.

Purchase a copy of Hamilton's The Awful Truth  [here].