Me: How did Cyborgia come together? Did you plan it as a set of poems exploring these issues? Or did you find yourself writing the poems and then group them accordingly?
Susan Slaviero: Originally, I was hoping to have a small set of poems about female cyborgs that might be enough for a chapbook. As I began writing the poems, I found I wanted to explore these ideas further. While I did not plan out the individual sections ahead of time, I did have a rough idea of some of the divisions—such as the reinvention of fairy tale characters as cyborgs and the depiction of cyborgs in film—and the sections evolved during the writing process although the poems themselves were conceived of as a body of work intended to fit together as a kind of exploration of a specific image/idea.
Tell me about the use of these punctuation marks in your poems: ( ), [ ], and < >. And more!?
Some of the punctuation is intended to imitate the look of code, such as the angle brackets you might see in html tags. They also suggest mathematical equations, as well as simply create a certain visual ‘look’ for the poems as they inhabit the page. Just as the bodies of cyborg women are sectioned off, broken, and disassembled, so is the language in the poems. I think the brackets and parenthesis reinforce the themes of assembly and disassembly, of there being an orderly process to creation (that sometimes goes awry!)
I would like to quote a short poem in full, to give people a taste of the book. May I quote “Briar Rose, in Cryostasis”? (And would you like to comment on it? Suggest another poem as well, and/or instead?) [Susan gave permission for "Briar Rose," from the Boolean Fairy Tales section of the book, and also suggested "Manifesto for Ghosts," from the Ontology of the Virtual Body section, and the very last poem in Cyborgia. So here are both!]:
Briar Rose, in Cryostasis
Sometimes, the evil fairy wears a lab coat.
She pricks your finger with an infected needle,
suspends your head in a thermos flask.
You might be trapped in a liquid nitrogen
enchantment for a hundred years, surrounded
by cracked class and jagged ice crystals,
waiting for the prince to defrost you,
to kiss the stump of your pretty neck.
Manifesto for Ghosts
What connects is the mechanoid process, a feel for mathematica and puppetry.
Bio(r)evolution is a vicious spider.
We sicken & weave in our cocoons.
Mutant. Erotica. Terror. These pixels are haunted. We are riblocked in this circular citadel. Some might say we are filaments, a spot on the macula, synaptic disruption.
[No virus was ever this pretty.]