Poetry by Irene Silt
Precise, astute, and uncompromising in its nuance, My Pleasure lives in the poetic entanglements of pleasure, disgust, and agency. From the bed to the club, the coal mine, the power plant, and the jail cell, Silt asks: Where do we extract pleasure, and what pleasure do we find in extraction? Is there sex without work, or only before, during, and after? Unfurling the binary distinctions between freedom and control, language and pause, and mind and body, My Pleasure does not imagine a different world so much as it embodies the possibility of another order within this one.
“Irene Silt’s My Pleasure tops from the underworld, where ‘the inverse of pain / is in no way pleasure, it is acceptance.’ Silt’s poems wander straight into the throat of capital, purging loss in order to touch what we all must ‘thrust aside / in order to live.’ Desire spills out of Silt's mouth: jaw locked in exhaustion, where the trick and the lover blur in the direct address. Destroying time, rotting money, and leading us into the trenches of wanting, these poems are odes to the power of finding yourself flat on your back. Like the glow of a primal wound, Silt’s poems teach us how to suffer—and how to love—more exquisitely.” Rosie Stockton
“Irene asks, ‘What if I am against boundaries?’ and we are left with our limits. These poems bring us into the ecstatic tremors and absolute terror of self knowledge, all touch a violent mirror to the world and a flight line from the inflexible motions of capital. My Pleasure throws every possible angle of light upon desire so that we may see its shadow, honestly. What do we lose when wanting becomes having, when work becomes pleasure, when we are forced into the waning existence of escape? What do we win when we lose ourselves?” Nora Treatbaby
“We were being filmed as the twink rammed into me and my head hit the cheap tile wall of the fleabag motel’s shower stall. There was something like an occlusion then, I worshiped his skin for the camera, and then my head hit the cheap tile wall again and again and so. I think of that sound as an evidence of what Catherine Clément would term syncope, an absence of self, and in Irene Silt’s My Pleasure, the syncopic moment of rupture is ever-present. Silt’s indelible book forms an argument that there is no stable subject—‘the mulch fell away / in my arms was a large black snake’—but instead a porosity of subjectivity that is made most apparent in moments of fluidity, in fucking both as a means of survival and a means of battling hegemonic systems that attempt to master or explain every fissure, every tear. It also asks the questions, ‘What might we want, when the wanting is finally able to dig in? What is deeper in life than just wanting to live?’ And then the book answers itself: ‘There is nothing in the world / to move a body but another body.’ But do not be mistaken—Silt’s is not a book about love, but instead a moving lyric treatise on the desire for liberation, a question about the boundaries of flesh and subject, and a positing that our desires are undefinable, as indefinite as ourselves, and as dynamic, like water. The book is sopping wet, dive in.” Ted Rees
"I cannot fully describe the ways this incredible book moves me. Each time I read Irene Silt’s My Pleasure it continues to pull me deeper into an understanding of my own body and its daily navigation of trauma, work, loss, sex, and the family. For the whores, 'the destroyers of time,' the family is the psychosocial unit, which measures everything defined and excluded by it, along with all the forms of pleasurable relation made possible outside of it. It is this outside that allows Silt to ask, 'What is deeper in life than just wanting to live?' What would it mean to harness the power of our perceptual modes beyond reason or knowing, beyond executing every act with the cautionary skill of only being 'a woman out of convenience'? It’s almost as if this book moves in me. It rests inside of me, languidly—like a fist, or rage, or self-loathing—until it can be released through the fluidity of desire, a liberatory lubrication that recognizes, 'Sex will be something we do together to do everything else we need to do in the world.'" Cassandra Troyan
Irene Silt writes about power, anti-work feeling, joy, and deviance. Their essays and poems have been published in Mask Magazine, ANTIGRAVITY, Spoil, LESTE, Trou Noir, Poiesis Journal and in the Tripwire pamphlet series. They live in New York.
Publication Date: October 2, 2022