field guide to autobiography


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Operating System
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5.06 X 0.2 X 7.81 inches | 0.22 pounds
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About the Author

Lynne DeSilva-Johnson is an interdisciplinary creator currently serving as the Creative Director and Managing Editor of THE OPERATING SYSTEM, as well as Libraries Editor for Boog City. A frequent collaborator across a wide range of disciplines, and a regular curator of events across the boroughs of NYC and beyond, Lynne is a frequent freelance consultant for theatrical and musical performance, visual exhibition, and publication, and in particular on projects integrating digital media. A dedicated educator, she has been an Adjunct Lecturer in English, Architecture, and Anthropology in the CUNY system for a decade, a facilitator for the Salvadori Institute, a Poetry Outreach instructor at The Lorraine Hansberry Academy in the Bronx, and a teaching artist for over a decade. Lynne is the author of GROUND, blood atlas, and Overview Effect, co-author of A GUN SHOW with Adam Sliwinski/Sō Percussion, and co-editor of the anthologies RESIST MUCH, OBEY LITTLE: Poems for the Resistance, and In Corpore Sano: Creative Practice and the Challenged Body, both forthcoming in 2017. She has been published in Wave Composition, The Conversant, Gorgon Poetics, POSTblank, Vintage Magazine, Promethean, The Mom Egg, Coldfront, the Brooklyn Poets Anthology, and The Occupy Poetry Anthology, among others. Also a social practice artist and poet, she has performed/been shown at The Dumbo Arts Festival, Naropa University, Bowery Arts and Science, The NYC Poetry Festival, Eyebeam, LaMaMa, Undercurrent Projects, Mellow Pages, The New York Public Library, Launchpad BK, The Poetry Project, Industry City Distillery, Independent Curators International, Happy Lucky No. 1, and the Cooper Union. She lives in Brooklyn, NY, where her family has lived for 4 generations.


What is a species autobiography? An autobiography not written through the convention of the senses? What is the bone mouth, what is it to break the surface? If autobiography is a particular history of body and bodies, then what kind of book is this? What does it permit itself: not to know? Does the book accomplish its non-human (human) aims? I like that there is a wren in it. I like that there is a whale.

-- Bhanu Kapil

This book earns its title. It's a field guide to the ecosystem that is being human. And that means it is also an autobiography. It is unclear in most of the poems where the human begins and ends, and this is how it should be. The world that comes out of these poems is luminous and difficult. This isn't conventional poetry; it's a poetry that helps us understand the future and the world that embeds us.

-- Juliana Spahr

Forage the wilds of language with Melissa Eleftherion's field guide and find yourself bodily reconstituted in sensate particles of taste and sound. Saturated in the langauge of insects, these poems expose identity's viscera down to its protoplasmic and mineral compositions, its Latinate roots, its collectivizing and individuating compulsions. Passing through syllabic way-stations of consciousness in formation, attention is brought to bear upon that which is irreducbly alien in us, yet common as fur and delectably female in its reproductive capacity--not to mention, badass! Here are whorls and bursts of light, where to fly is to sing is to fly, where "soft noises" compose a listening to instruct your ontological imagination. Following Eleftherion's exertion towards classification, we are led to its (im)possibility. Read this book! You never know what form you may be compelled to assume.

-- Elise Ficarra