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Slack Pussy

Slack Pussy reading group will map out a can(y)on of trans, and queer women, living writers. We will be reading in a chain. The first text we will read is an extract from Eileen Myles’s autobiographical novel, Chelsea Girls (1994). Eileen will begin the chain by recommending a text by an author of her choice, who will in turn recommend the next, and so on…

Sessions are held monthly, and texts will be made available by email. We ask you to read the text in advance of the session.To join our mailing list email: slackpuss.rg [AT] gmail.com

No prior knowledge is necessary – and all are welcome. You can join at any point in the chain. If you have missed past sessions and you would like to catch up, please let us know.

The books we read and the suggestions given by each author will be kept in the MayDay archive. Each month, MayDay’s archivists will search their collection for historical material, in order to provide broader political and social context to issues raised in the book we are reading.

Session 1: 7pm, Wednesday 16 November
Chelsea Girls by Eileen Myles (1994)

Poet and novelist Eileen Myles is one of the most influential living lesbian writers. She is also one of the coolest women on the planet. Born in Boston in 1949, she has published over 20 volumes of poetry and prose.

We invited Myles to be the first in the Slack Pussy chain, and, following her suggestion, we will begin by reading the chapter ‘Robin’ from Chelsea Girls, her autobiographical novel written in 1994 – an account of a brief, and intensely sexual, love affair.

From the back of the book:

    “Chelsea Girls cobbles together memories of Myles’s 1960s Catholic upbringing with an alcoholic father, her volatile adolescence, her unabashed “lesbianity”, and her riotous pursuit of survival as a poet in 1970s New York.”

Session 2: 7pm, Wednesday 14 December
Calamities by Renee Gladman (2016). Recommended by Eileen Myles.

In the words of Myles: ‘I love her writing always have because there's a peculiar collective in her individual.’

Gladman is a poet, novelist, essayist and teacher who has published ten books to date. She is best known for ‘The Ravicka Novels’ trilogy, in which she writes about an invented city-state called Ravicka, ‘a foreign “other” place fraught with the crises of American urban experience, not least the fundamental problem of how to move through the world at all.’

We will be reading extracts from her latest fragmented essay Calamaties, published by Wave Books.

Calamaties reflects – among other things – on lesbian relationships, the experience of being a woman of colour in a predominantly white US university system, and what it means to write, investigating social structures on the level of the sentence.

Session 3: 7pm Wednesday 18 January
All We Know: Three Lives (2012) by Lisa Cohen. Recommended by Renee Gladman

This is what Gladman says:

    'I'd like to recommend Lisa Cohen's All We Know, which is a book of literary biography focused on the lives of three queer women living in New York in the early 20th century, women (mostly) unwritten in history, who were fiercely creative and independent, who lived rich social lives, and sometimes failed in their endeavors, but always wholly as themselves. This book brings to life a vibrant, intellectual underground of women artists, designers, and writers. It is gorgeously written and engaging'.

The book is made up of three discreet biographies of queer women living in early 20th century America: Madge Garland (editor of British Vogue); Mercedes de Acosta (“the first celebrity stalker”); and Esther Murphy (“spell-binding conversationalist”). The entire book is well worth a read, but we have chosen the section on Esther Murphy for Slack Pussy. It runs 147 pages – read what you can!

Session 4: 7pm Thursday 16 February
American Romances (2009) by Rebecca Brown. Recommended by Lisa Cohen

This is what Cohen says:

    "In Rebecca Brown's American Romances, to be “American” (and a writer) is to be a reader: of Gertrude Stein and Oscar Wilde, of abandoned books and other losses, of the Puritans and pop music, of Ralph Ellison and B movies. It is to be guided by the power of juxtaposition; to understand that violence and intractable invisibilities are constitutive of this place; to insist that the footnotes are not an afterthought. It is to ask, repeatedly: “Who is it we’re not seeing now?” In this book, an essay is a wild thing."

We will be reading the essay Invisible.

Session 5: 7pm Wednesday 15 March
The Argonauts (2015) by Maggie Nelson. Recommended by Rebecca Brown.

This is what Brown says:

    "I think you all should read Maggie Nelson's THE ARGONAUTS. This is such a smart, daring book and Nelson has not only read really widely and thoughtfully, but also lived (and lives) experientially with questions of language, identity, gender, history, art and responsibility to self and world. It's great and she's great."

We will be reading the entire book.

Session 6: Thursday 20 April, 7pm
Testo Junkie (2008) by Paul B. Preciado. Recommended by Maggie Nelson.

This is what Nelson says:

    "TESTO JUNKIE is a wild and edifying ride, and presses hard on and sometimes through presumptions about gender, desire, feminism, lesbian/gay intersections, and queer pasts, presents, and futures. It's literary, academic, complex, rip-roaring, controversial, and often quite hot."

We will be reading three chapters, "Testogel", "The History of Technosexuality" and "In Which The Body Of VD Becomes An Element In An Experimental Context".

The extract is available as a PDF (above).

Session 7: Wednesday 1 November, 7pm.
"After Kathy Acker" (2017) by Chris Kraus. Chosen by Paul B. Preciado.

    "'To lie is to try,' Chris Kraus writes in this examination of the various personae of Kathy Acker, the fucked-up girl from high school who, through lying and trying, became an experimental writer of rare courage and vision. In some ways a contemporary and in some ways as far off as the days when people moved to New York and San Francisco for the cheap rent, Acker needed a key, and Chris Kraus provides it." (Benjamin Moser).

We will be reading the first three chapters of Chis Kraus new book, "After Kathy Acker" (2016).

The extract is available as a PDF (above). Read as much as you can.