r. erica doyle, selected by Simone White
Introduction to the work of r. erica doyle
In another introduction, I confessed that erica's was the first writing I recognized as realized, complete, mature and therefore bewitching—ten years ago. How absurd to find myself in the position of introducing her work, here, now. She is now, was, will be very far ahead.
Proxy is a brilliant, beautiful and genuinely dirty book. Intermittent epigraphs from David Berlinski's A Tour of the Calculus prompt you to read for the mathematical, for thinking/writing that is or is symbolic of "two austere abstractions—change in position and change in time." But there is more. "Under the mathematician's hands" are the next words in that sentence of Berlinski's. Be warned: you are under the hand of r. erica doyle and under her hand, there is, indeed, "voluptuous" specificity of experience and imagination. Her prose control is breathtaking; change in position and change in time is prosody; position and time, too, the elementary axes of "fuck" and "love," history and/of persons. Did I say this is a brilliant book? And dirty:
When you can't fuck hunger makes you walk the streets alone and
weep. If the moon is full your womb is an aching crater. The doctor
says your hormones are fucked up. She wants you to take the pill
to stabilize them. They make you feel pregnant and bitter and you
won't stop smoking. You quit taking them though it means you will
get cancer. The eggs struggle against the membrane and wait to be
let out, die and decay there, festering cysts. On the sonogram, your
ovaries like asteroids against the tulips of your fallopian tubes.
The doctor says your hormones are fucked up. When I say dirty, I mean, I crave and think all the time about writing that treats sexuality as a vivid and constant presence in thought, in the thought of a woman. I mean sex that is not abstract, but often confused with ideas about consciousness. r. erica doyle is running away with this kind of thinking and writing. Look, I'm not a psychoanalyst and my hormones are definitely fucked up because I am human. Titillation is a measure of reckoning with the unmanageable if not unnameable—not unexamined—properties of desire.… Proxy for intelligence, as words on the page put down there by a woman. For, also, the lived conditions of intimate reaching, consideration of which often extends to physically reaching for (inside) the body of another. Of another/proxy. What is a proxy for oneself? Is everything a proxy for oneself? What is not? Why not? Dirty, as in, in the economy of intimate exchange, "This may just pinch a little bit. You're going to feel some stinging. Now this might burn for a second. This might hurt but it won't kill you."
I am so pleased to be writing in her time and position. I wish to rise to the occasion of her work.
r. erica doyle
Gully, maybe. Gullah praise be.
Mantilla maiden down on her knees.
Iron her skirts. Wash her vagina.
Get thee behind her
and zip up her back.
Me dijeron que me llamaban desde el pozo.
Voces nocturnas pajariles.
Cocodrilos granadinos rococo y sensibles.
Odio lo que ardo.
Harta en my sweater.
Odio lo que amo.
Tecato en stiletto. Sutil e imbecil.
Di pa sa, ti bouche.
Mwen ka mantje ou, ti fi mwen.
Di pa sa, dou dou mwen, di pa sa.
Labios ladrando. Legacy light handled.
I've broken my teeth
against this language of yours.
My tongues bleed nouns at night
in a fricative wind.
r. erica doyle