Image courtesy Finn Arschavir


There’s this Weyes Blood song I can’t get enough of, ‘Wild Time’. She released the video (filmed prior to the pandemic) mid-lockdown, because its imagery and lyrics seem uncannily to speak to the times we’re in now. These days, or ‘These Days’ which feel like a Nico song, ‘I don’t do too much talking these days’, I find it harder and harder to talk. A lucid thought remains in review; the patterns of language seem haunted and full, my own self obsolescent and I find it difficult to write. So the possibility of reviewing this book with you has to be held under erasure. Lose myself in the pressure of days to think this is our death (Sean Bonney), our pregnancy (Ariana Reines), our disease, our soul. ‘Look around / there’s nothing left to keep’, goes ‘Wild Time’, and I wonder if the wild was always against the making new, in its constant renewal, its mulch, that eludes discovery, capture. That there could be nothing left to pin down after all this. Wild requires another form of knowledge-making. You have to come at it sideways, like crawling in tunnels to come up in public parks, to ache inside images.

Following Paul Feigelfeld’s labyrinthine analysis of A.I. and ‘the twisted and lysergic mutations’ (59) of Google Deep Dream, Ann Cotten’s poem ‘Be New!’ marks a swerve in The Wild Book: satirising the modernist imperative, which is Pound pounding at the poetic line, make it new! Weird how this poem then folds into essay, continuing the slippages through time; as if the act of breaking lines was too much for the future to bear, knowing its reader would also ‘[c]ry for no reason and for all reasons’ (71), spilling their sentence. Fate, structure, reflection, repeat. ‘The future, the new is generated by variation of the past’, and Cotten claims this is part of the pattern recognition whose processing is ‘perhaps the material of art’ (67-68). I felt in soft focus as the video did; my colours were solace and chord, the ripples of water.

Cotten writes of the musical analogy of ‘theme and variations’. I wonder if this is what happens in letters, when you catch little notes of correspondence between times. Something has to open up. This book gives me substance to work with. There are moments which are like self-help in the form of invention, when critical prose unfolds for the reader in the imperative of image: ‘[y]ou will use vessels to carry fluids around to your friends. You will see your soul go down the drain and enter the circulation of rain’ (71). With the iterative, addictive effect of internal rhyme, these could be song lyrics, and as such they circulate in the stir of to know and forget. Is this pattern recognition, or the general intellect of the rain?



The creature spoke to me of the supply chain and whispered it’s confessions in my ear.

I see the tree gasping in the wind.

Gasping and glittering in the fray of the storm.

Another one that shook us, our bones

and struck us all with lightning at the same time, the surge of energy

a unified voice from the earth that said from here until forever

you must endure it all at once and then again and again and again

and again. And I’m catapulted from galaxy to galaxy,

a mighty cursor dragging me in and out of street view

in different worlds and different times but all meaning the same

I cannot look the next person in line in the eye, but they stare deep into me

and the moans come tumbling down the chain from generation to generation

and guilt and shame have no use except to lead us to the next.

They know it and I know it and they know it and I bounce

off them side by side and am locked into place, the flip side of solid fear.

I’m confronted with my own comfort but it’s never enough.

I cannot express how deeply this dives. But it’s not direct,

it’s skewed and off centre, stacked like a staircase

spiralling my spine and disappearing into mya cortex.

I wish I was a fat dog leaning into the horizon, the dusk sun setting fire to my fur, feeding my skin, suckling my babies that I will carry into the forever, teeth and tears blinking blindly in the light. But I’m grateful it’s not forever, that there is some kind of end although I can’t feel it, I can’t feel it. Time sloshes on in great galloping gulps, as if we’re drowning in it, in all the nothingness that I feel.

All the happening that is not happening.

But tomorrow there is another me that may be different, it may come crawling out of me, out of my front door and down into the sewers to set things straight. I’d give my left foot and my right and my right arm for the sense of coming home to whatever it is I’m meant to do. I see the bats pulsating in passing; does pursuit mean everything to them just as rotation means everything to a wheel and a ledge means nothing to a hole?


The Book of Wild Invention asks ‘Can contemporary art’s practitioners change the way we perceive nature? Employing a variety of forms that include speculative essays, poems, pencil sketches, and photo essays, twenty authors challenge the exclusive human claim to intelligence by pointing to, or inventing, new forms of coexistence for all life-forms.’ and is available now via…

A+E is a multidisciplinary collective born out of a shared sense of discomfort in the face of climate disaster, with an urgent desire to use our creative voices to think through existing discourses on ecological precarity, coexistence and sustainable practice in both local and planetary contexts. Find out more here.