Tytti Heikkinen is a poet of that rare reflecting mind-self that only comes along every so often to startle you awake from your elongated nap and remind you of why you read poetry still, why you haven’t grown up already, moved on, the masochism, such a peculiar and unabashedly useless activity. The kind of poet who seems to have more in common with oracles of old than us common mortal pushers of syntax, attuned to the special noise-waves floating under and against each attempt at sense-making. A kind of clairvoyance, except in Heikkinen’s case, the chorus of god-mumble-tremors are harvested not from within or even from the elusive ghost-world but from the nauseating never ending too-much-ness of the interweb, resulting in poems that are curated rather than written, like a taxidermist is arranging her skins, recreating something like authenticity, playing dress up, the poet cutting up surfaces and reapplying, carefully, stitch by stitch: a sibyl with her search engine.
– My type of poetry is search-engine based. I don’t write “out of my own head” per se; instead, I pluck random text-mass from the Internet and form poems from it by recombining sentences and words. In a sense, my role in this process could be thought of as one of a cutter or director rather than of a traditional poet
Some info: The Warmth of the Taxidermied Animal is a bilingual mash-up, translated by Niina Pollari from the original Finnish, published by Action Books, drawing from two books, Taxidermied Animal’s Warmth (Täytetyn eläimen lämpö, 2008) and Shadows from Astronauts (Varjot astronauteista, 2010).
What’s worth noting is the WARMTH of this cut-work, the way disparate voices come together in a unison roar of something wickedly touching, detached at the seams yet primally dialed-in. Most writing of the cut-up variety never really gets around to recreating, the interest is mainly in taking shit apart and the way unfitting pieces jar. The poems in Taxidermied are greatly varied in both subject matter and style and yet there is a clear sense of the “over seer”. You also get a sense of something quite severe going on, despite the humor, because of the humor, possibly yourself shattering, while laughing, possibly something like waking up from anesthesia to a very personal surgery going on, the sound of your organs moving around and the inability to scream. Possibly. A skilled taxidermist, it is said, can remove the skin without ever having to lay eyes on the inside. One third or so into reading I felt like I had come upon not one new but at least three new badass poets. Like a good personality disorder. Just right. Like going to church. Like talking tongues. Like fables without morals. Like a heap of dead animals. Etc. Sort of….
“Our task,” we are informed, “is to ensure that meeting it [reality] will be painful, and that the pain will continue until the person experiencing it feels ill. By the time the person vomits, reality will jam itself into the place it belongs: the world of experience.”
One poem I found myself reading many times during the recent super media coverage of bodies exploding and lockdowns and manhunts and such vocabulary and cheering with dizzy death, like a mantra or elegy or perhaps as a protective curse, if there are such things as protective curses, is this one:
The rabbit was dead
After the sample-taking, the rabbit was dead.
Rumor had it, without sacrament, but
the pastor remarked: – A dead seal belongs to the state
but a dead rabbit to God. The funeral guests slurped coffee and were
in agreement that the downstairs salon’s beautiful
hue was due to the meteor lighting and the walls’
curly-wood panel and they hoped that death
meant the place’s ownership would clear up.
The drunk yelled that death was only
a theoretical jump, he himself would die only
once a soldier struck him with a dagger in the neck or
head and that the rabbit was too sensitive, had begun
to stiffen in the blueprints of its timidity and this kind
of impression-ism was standing dead in its own
superficiality and ordinariness and that
the world, into which we were stepping rabbitless,
was in any case f……ng beautiful and we could find lying
dead also bullfinches, siskins,
redpolls and larks, and someone else yelled
that the protection status was dead and the whole world
ought to be in its escape gear.
The mother rabbit said: my child is dead.
We heard angels begin to cry. We saw
how the dead one rose. It had the whole time kept
an eye on the situation and now began to implement group executions.
Someone had time to shout: – So Lenin
has indeed invented a way to live!
Which makes one think that maybe poetry’s role, if a role must be assigned, which it doesn’t, never a role never, which is its role, it would be an element of disturbing and unteaching and blur and fuck up and not reinforce what it means to be human whenever human threatens to become clearly defined because that is typically the exalted condition of togetherness when humans start drawing A’s and B’s and C’s that suddenly mark the corners of mass graves where the non-humans go.
“The poet always seeks autism” Heikkinen writes at one point in a kind of Middleword called “About the relationship between reality and story, or, AT SOME BOUNCEHOUSE” (yes, these poems span from lowbrow tumblr over-sharing to pretty landscape watercolors to deadpan bad porno orgy transcripts to musings about aesthetics and TRUTH) and this seems a fitting description of Taxidermied‘s particular flavor of awesome, again a kind of medium-oracle-attuned-ness, writing/curating without discrimination, a democratic view of language if you will, its strangeness once you peel away the easy band-aid of hierarchical familiar linear story-telling where eye-contact is the only personal and unleash the garbage, because most of these poems play stories, feelingly, playfully, surreally, the subject at the feet of the object worshiping a wallpaper of verbs.
“I mean to suck the beer, fuse. The rustle of shutting.
Tomorrow is a testament, lengthy proof of guilt.”
Perhaps the character, or narrator, the most memorable specimen in this collection, who swells over the poetic rim in all directions with lazy conviction and horny abandon, is FATTY-XL. The FATTY-XL poems one would imagine have been sculpted from hours and hours of pure teenage angst watching. There is a movement called Rogue Taxidermy and maybe this is an appropriate parallel, where skins of different animals are joined to form mythological unreal beasts, chicken with three heads, etc, frowned upon, of course, by Real Taxidermists. One might think that a real taxidermist might have some problems containing Miss FATTY-XL. In fact Miss FATTY-XL might threaten to collapse poetry completely, this should make catalogers of poetry tremble with fear.
(Here a fat font seems appropriate.)
Fuck i’m a fatty when others are skinny.
Also Im short, am I a fatty or short? Wellyeah
I’m such a grosss fatty that it makes no sens…
My Woundedness has let the situation get
this way tht the fat squeezes out etc. Now I’m
putting distance btwn me and everything, because I’ve been so
disappointed in my self, cause from the word “greedy”
I think of a greedy fatty and then I get mad. Panic
rises in my chest, a tremor. Everything is so terrible
, outside its wet and icy , It’s cold when I
lay here and im an undisciplined fatty.
aarghhh I Want my bones to showI’m
yyyyyyyyyy I’m furious about my fat!
and later still (always later, in another poem, always in another poem, beautiful, capital b, Beautiful, eat dirt William Carlos Williams beautiful!)
Ihave great hair.Winter is long. today it didn’t snow or
sleet. I slept a lot and went outside
At times one is made aware of the scars, little twitches in the diction, oddities, birthmarks of the transfer from search engine to search engine to page, the bruising from “dallying with copies of copies”, but also from the transfer from the body of one language to another, the process which becomes the text, the process which is always the process except perhaps more noticeable in this particular transaction, that there is no Original, that these are the only pieces we have to work with, broken, torn, unfitting, that it gets fucking lonely without a “god, who answers at the last minute all questions about the borders of things”.
You can find some of the poems in this book here: http://intranslation.brooklynrail.org/finnish/poems-by-tytti-heikkinen
Buy this rare death assemblage and other foreign longings straight from the mouth at ActionBooks