Chaos Rehearsals by Madeleine Stack
Chaos Rehearsals is a book that sweats. It is sweaty with lust, ‘my hot wet price of fish’, ‘my God, my God’, and it is sweaty with fear. Fear of not finding the beloved in time, fear of losing the beloved once found. It writes (writhes!) the sickening state of being in love and it is graphic. To read it is to lose yourself, ‘tipping spangled over the hedgerow’, but Stack is a sorceress and she brings you back better, braver and more gnarled. Fully aware of the stakes, and ready to ‘take my cut
of the miracles.’
— Hannah Regel
There is never a blank slate for the world to come. The catastrophe and the revolution are never final, everything is practice for the next thing. While rehearsing for chaos we must prepare our mouths and bodies for the many moments in which the sun will cave in. The sirens who sing for it are poets, dykes and Paloma the street performer who wanders the city for a wage. In the underworld there are no saviours or sins or revelations or redemptions, just life processes: birth, growth and the weather. The structures of the state get waterlogged, fatty enough to be melted down and adorned with trinkets to the point of disintegration.
In this collection of poems, bodies splash in the labyrinth and take the edge between their teeth, feet pickling in proteins and last night’s confetti. These poems push the lovers to the extreme of wanting, while their incorruptible belief that delight will win tinkles in their pockets like coins as they approach the gates. The chaos is real. True love, it turns out, is also real.
Madeleine Stack’s sculpture and poetry considers contemporary votive practices in queerness, revolution, religion and communications technology. Their writing has been published in Hotel, Cordite, aqnb, Another Gaze, Salt, un magazine and Doggerland, and they were a finalist in BOMB’s 2022 Poetry Contest. Their audio-essay Portable Monument was commissioned by the BBC and ICA for national radio broadcast.
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