The poems in Gina Abelkop’s second collection I Eat Cannibals are spectral, femme, and glittering with anachronism. Stretched across time, they assert their own kind of critical feminist manifest destiny via the temporal wormhole. Here, the present leaks into the past and vice versa: a dinosaur lives; an 1880s dance hall girl remembers song lyrics a century too early. This is poetry of affinity through time travel—affinity with the magnificent cassowary, with the old west, with the land that bears witness to all. From “Wagons West”: “I made that long journey I// executed it entirely in my language// I came/ west// I mean to survive.”
MM: Many of your poems seem vintage, if not ghostly, possessing a multilayered temporality that arrives via voice and diction as well as scenario and character. How would you describe your own relationship to history, and/or to time more generally?
GA: I have so many dreams about time travel, usually traveling back in time and finding myself shopping and being boggled by how everything I’d usually (in my waking life) identify as “old” is now just a regular brand new thing, marveling at the fact that I get to see/buy all these things cheaply, and they’re everywhere, they’re the norm, they’re not decaying and torn, just new & probably boring to everyone else; these are day-clothes, not glamour gowns. Fashion as a representation of availability/consuming matter. It’s gonna say something, maybe several somethings, about me and my relationship to ideas of ownership and desire for all the Things of the World. But it’s incredible, an incredible feeling, even though it’s just a dream—to find myself moving through space and time in this effortless way. My dreams never take into account of the very non-romantic things that would accompany any real time travel: racism/segregation, misogyny, limited opportunities, wars or homophobia. Fear. Loneliness.