"Iijima (Early Linoleum) weaves biology, taxonomy, and eugenics with news reports, philosophy, and satire in a powerfully dissonant text that is concerned with inter- and intra-species barbarity. She investigates the different connotations of violence—including war, where 'one man's safety is another man's living hell,' and slavery as well as more subtle aggressions, as in a society where 'health is an elite status [reserved for the rich].' The central issue here, however, is violence against animals: selective breeding, captivity, factory farming, endangerment, and extinction. A dismal section in the voice of a dairy cow concludes 'brides coat their lips with our hooves.' These forms of violence constantly intersect, as humans treat each other like animals and animals are used by humans to oppress other humans. Visual elements—pictures, computer icons, and jarring typographical shifts—heighten the discord and quicken the pace, and quotations bring such disparate voices as those of Assata Shakur to George W. Bush into the conversation. Some of Iijima's language is pure political rhetoric, a call to 'repudiate capital; and 'eradicate the industrial, military, prison, complex,' but the shrill tone is part of the point. This is meant to be a visceral, even unpleasant read, and Iijima delivers a stirring and uncomfortable truth: 'we once were animals and now we are animals.'"
paperback, 176 pages, 9 x 10 in
Publication Date: 2016
This song cycle is a raw and mutating cry from within an ecological surround undergoing massive upheaval and duress
Remembering Animals chronicles the animal in all the complexity of such a categorization, revealing the ways in which bodies are marked and evaluated, used as resource, violated and occluded from history. It is a botched text—it is problematic and scarred. It hurts and registers the hurt. There is no comfort zone. These poems contort out of the marked position of human to bring an intimate awareness of our interrelational vibrancy.
Remembering Animals is Iijima at her most fearless and feral. Life comes at you fast and furious in this powerful book. Fonts, typefaces and punctuation leap about like nervous creatures made of flesh, hair and fat in a cautionary tale about the dangers of getting lost in a forest of deep forgetting. Knowing where and how to live eco nominally in the world (without dismembering it) echoes one of this masterful visualiterary creation’s pet peeves: You broke it, you bought it. Naked or fully dressed in fur, Remembering Animals smells/ tells/yells of wounds humanimals meat out. No body is spared. I picture Iijima, head coated in honey and gold leaf sharing this brilliantly illuminated shamanuscript with Cecil the lion, cradled across her lap, pieta-like. Heart felt rendering, Beuysian feel, whispering to the dead inside us. Hop, hop. Hope... be U tearful read. – Julie Patton
In the tongues of bounty and outrage, apocalypse and transmutation, commonplace horror and vanishing splendor, Brenda Iijima has written a poetry of deep attunement to the suffering we administer mutually in our subjection of other species as from the time the animal came to stand for what is human when given to atrocity. Limbs and language are torn asunder in typeset equivalents of an overwhelming; a fugue of fitful lines that link the industrialized extermination of animals for consumption to the racial holocausts and war crimes on the “road to basra road to treblinka road to the pentagon road to an internment camp in nevada, or al-nakba.” Attention gives way to fierce acoustic patterning able to calibrate from the “cacophony matrix” an exact untamable clarity of thought. This book makes anxious music of the stakes in species-war to find “the flying giraffeoid pterodactyl encephlopod or sidewinder chomping / major grass // animal in coma coma political uproar at phase state.” Is there in us the possible grammar of an animal remembering? What species will memory favor if the sound symbols survive? – Roberto Tejada