TRACES OF A FIFTH COLUMN…
…took a very long time to make. Writing it…happened. And sending it out went on, well, forever. Ultimately, though, the manuscript was selected by rob mclellan and green-lit by Cati Porter of Inlandia Literary, to whom I’m supremely grateful. So that I can honor someone else’s contribution, I want to mention how this book ultimately got made…or, unmade and then remade.
Things from words
With Cati’s blessing, good fortune turned into dumb luck: I was paired with Lawrence Eby, who is cited as the book’s designer. And that he is. . .be he’s also something damned close to it’s co-author. Because he’s giving, open, brilliant, investigative, bold and beyond collaborative, Larry invited me into his process.
And then things got different.
They got weird—real—strange— more real—and, finally. . . curiouser: we made choices that entextualized 100+ pages of poetry into a book-shaped something-other. TRACES became an animal out of context—less than a space but more than a place—where text sometimes powers through indecisive margins, while at other it makes itself borderline-invisible, as if trying to find its way back into a whole other story that is conspicuously absent, yet totally felt. Over the course of months, Larry made it possible to transmogrify a closed-loop manuscript into turn it into a holdable, alien ecosystem. In concert we turned poems into and unfinalizable reality.
Since then, I've come to see TRACES as Part 0 to a lot of hungry, untold stories that haunt most projects I’m working on: other manuscripts, media art pieces, even a fiction podcast. In short, I have a lot of next steps to be thankful for.
Some other acknowledgments (the rest are in the book) . . .
The gorgeous (it really is )cover is the work of Paul K. Tunis, a poet, comix-poetry master, ed. of Inkbrick. Passages from Dina Hardy burn holes through it like a gentle earthquake or wildfire or cigarette-trick. And insights from Broc Rossell, a publisher and friend of mine, and a transformative close-read by Carrie Bennett, a collaborator and better poet than I, were the X-Ray specs that made this piece of anti-generic poetry possible.
What it’s about…
I hesitate to decide for you what this book contains or is about. Makes more sense to hint at an outside by way of side-eyeing what's inside:
Somewhere on the unreliable plane(t) that TRACES traces, the reader is given glimpses into content by way of found things:
a discovered field-notebook become love-letter album
a glitchy mixtape concealing the surveilled (?) conversations of a couple as they move into a flat across the alley from their respective doppelgängers
a bedroom videotape that shows god, bodies fucking, and wet, electric stones colliding in an act we don't have a word for, until we do.
Thanks for words too-kind...
Traces is blurbed by Anselm Berrigan, Cole Swenson, and Laura Sims. All poets I feel lucky to know, and floored when I read.
There’s nothing that doesn’t belong and no two things that can’t be combined in Marco Maisto’s explosive world of percussive potential, and yet every word is curated...juggles through a found journal and an
old video tape, through collapsing lions and finch-colored echoes—all within a recurrent address to a you somehow too close to be clearly seen, and thus rendered limitless. —Cole Swenson
...[I]n a space where “communication has become the echo of dissolving planets,” where the “I” has become “a mirage” or “hordes” or “the specters of ourselves that swim still, in the underground aquariums of summers rapidly to come,” Maisto constructs what could be construed as a masterful science fiction, but what is really (or is also) an ethereal, moving paean to the human heart and mind. —Laura Sims
Murmuring blood magic into our ears, making room for seeing by writing, by stringing sonic bloom across the line, Marco Maisto’s Traces of a Fifth Column is a love poem made of poems working the front and back of what’s felt by listening. . .—Anselm Berrigan