Poet Of The Week

Ariana Reines

     April 29–May 5, 2013

Ariana Reines’s books of poetry include The Cow (2006), which won the Alberta Prize from Fence Books; Coeur de Lion (2007); and Mercury (2011). Her poems have been anthologized in Gurlesque (2010) and Against Expression (2011). Known for her interest in bodily experience, the occult, new media, and the possibilities of the long or book-length form, Reines has been described as “one of the crucial voices of her generation” by Michael Silverblatt on NPR’s Bookworm. Reines’s first play Telephone (2009) was performed at the Cherry Lane Theater and received two Obie Awards. A re-imagining of its second act was featured as part of the Guggenheim’s Works+Process series in 2009, and the script was published in Play: A Journal of Plays in 2010. Reines’s translations include a version of Baudelaire’s My Heart Laid Bare (2009); Jean-Luc Hennig’s The Little Black Book of Grisélidis Réal: Days and Nights of an Anarchist Whore (2009); and Tiqqun’s Preliminary Materials Toward a Theory of the Young-Girl (2012). Reines has taught at Columbia University and the European Graduate School, and was the Roberta C. Holloway Lecturer in Poetry at the University of California-Berkeley in 2009, the youngest poet ever to hold that position. She has traveled to Haiti multiple times as part of the on-going relief efforts there.


Joan Didion and I are in her summer place.
She serves me what she calls a Hawaiian
Burrito which is wrapped in both flour
And corn tortillas. Joan goes
On and on about Hawaii and burritos and culture.
How skinny
I look, as in drastic
And sick. Skeletal women
Always do this. O Joan I say
I don’t look that bad do I? Auschwitz
Bad? Smiling much more than is sincere. Plump
And game I remain nevertheless
A woman. As in
I know spite
When I feel it. Time to do
My job. Fat, sturdy, and inferior
Like a globe to be walked upon
By thee. My pits salt
Wet and my thighs white.
The strand shimmering
In silver sun.
In a white bikini
I am not hungry. Also
What is it about me that says
Burrito to Joan
Didion I want to say
To Joan Didion
And not like gravlax
On pumpernickel rounds. Joan
In chinos glares
At me with all the rectitude
And severity of former and
Elegant times. It is not only
Age and eminence she has
On me. It is aristocracy
Which has nothing
To do with my value.
I wish I were a worker
Or a gay. A Genet or
An old-
Fashioned man with hairs
On her chest.
Gee Joan I say
I totally loved your tits
Poking through your white
Shirt on the back of Democracy
And to my surprise
She smiles. I meant
To do that she says.
It totally worked I say.
You got me.

–From Mercury, Fence Books, 2011.

What are you working on right now?

I’m writing something called A Sand Book. The first section comes from dreams I had this winter, around the third anniversary of Haiti’s earthquake, dreams of an inverted world.

How long have you lived in Brooklyn? What neighborhood do you live in? What do you like most about it?

I lived in Brooklyn for 7+ years. I put in the most time in Bushwick, and also had memorable living times in Bed-Stuy, Clinton Hill and Williamsburg, plus a squatting stint in what turned out to be the poet Macgregor Card’s former place of residence in DUMBO. I now live in my namesake, Queens.

Favorite Brooklyn poet(s), dead and/or alive?

Oh geez.  Well, Walt Whitman, who is not dead. Tyehimba Jess, who is alive and just read at my house (in Queens) this weekend.

Favorite Brooklyn bookstore?

I’m embarrassed to say I haven’t been to Blonde Art Books or Mellow Pages yet. Unnameable‘s my favorite.

Favorite places to read and write in Brooklyn (besides home, assuming you like to be there)?

I like to read and write on the subway and I LIVE IN QUEENS!!!!

Favorite places to go in Brooklyn not involving reading or writing?

I always love a toast in the houses of friends (cf. Akilah Oliver), the place that is getting there on a bicycle.

Last awesome book(s) you read?

Habeas Corpus by Jill McDonough.