j/j hastain

SOS: Song of Songs of Solomon: a Queer Translation

sos j hastain
“Song of Songs of Solomon is a beautiful book. I am swept away by the astonishing use of color, of close-up photography, of the lyrical movement from page to page, image to image, passage to passage of text. There is a synthesis here that is beautiful and moving. The narrative itself is heightened by the intensity of longing the images convey: again, this arising out of the intensities of color and composition and perspective. The narrative seems to operate simultaneously as a spiritual and physical pilgrimage. The soul moving between the King’s castle and the Mother’s house, seeking love, union, transcendence of the binaries, King and Mother. The lover making the same crossing, from castle to house, toward, with, seeking the beloved. Soul and lover, each its own veneration, celebration, each capable only of a partial realization of love/redemption/delight. A process of toward. In the journey across or between, fraught with terror, fulfillment becomes possible. The journey of the spirit into awareness, the journey of the lover toward the beloved. Each prong of the journeying essential to the other, each affording the other. The embrace of the self and the lover are one. The losses, confusions, separations, isolations stages in knowing, becoming, loving, self and other.”

-Marthe Reed

“Look what you’ve done to me with your poem. You’ve sent me back to my mother’s King James, my inheritance when she died, and also to the Maurer edition of Lorca’s collected poems; your new poem told me I’d never really left behind either text, any more than I can claim another dna…Marie was in the habit, life long, of underlining passages in ink that she felt significant–so her bible is largely defaced–but she had made not a single mark or tick in the Song of Solomon. Why? That erotic love poem so clearly concerning a person (“I am black, but comely”) not a god must have been too radical for her to assimilate into her Christianity or point out to me, her atheist son, from the grave. SOS instructed me to look to Lorca until I rediscovered his great “Suites.” Lorca’s text is a match in my ear for j/j’s sumptuous singing. Poem “4:11″ is to me the perfect realization of the transformative utterance. I’ve placed SOS on the shelf between the two books.”

-Rich Blevins


Buy SOS at Spuyten Duyvil

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Creative Interview with Carolyn Zaikowski at Monkey Puzzle Press 

Creative Interview with Amanda Earl at Devilhouse Press

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Shameless Self-Promotion of SOS Via The Next Big Thing

Review by C Zaikowski at Htmlgiant

Forthcoming Review by Brian Oliu

Forthcoming Review by Lina Oh

Forthcoming Review by Jen Marie Davis

Forthcoming Review by Kari Larsen

(Special thanks to Julieanne Combest for preliminary conversations regarding The Song of Songs of Solomon. It was helpful and relieving to find someone with whom I could celebrate the heavy eroticism in this part of the Bible).