Finalist for the 2018 Lambda Literary Award for Transgender Poetry. Of Mongrelitude is a colloquy on the mongrel body, textual and actual, sexual, specieal, and racial. Composed in a hybrid style, it makes the argument that everything can and does come into ‘englyssh’: ancient and invented languages, european and indigenous, tongues not yet named. All of this ‘made up as medicine’, as ceremony for all creatures, as literal song.
Think Robert Burns mated to a Native e.e. cummings...Indigenous poets working in English, often their only language, find they must write in an imposed mother tongue. In Talamantez Brolaski's deft hands, englyssh, as it is referred to in this collection of poems, reveals its mongrel nature and expands to become the perfect medium to express a hybrid existence. Making use of abbreviations, yr, and alternative, gender neutral, pronouns such as xe, allows the poet to move swiftly to create poems unbounded by gender expectations. In poems of address, the beloved is every being, we are the companions. –Heid Erdrich, The Kenyon Review
Reading Brolaski is like reading the David Foster Wallave of poetry (or rather, the work of David Foster Wallace's cooler, less-pretentious sibling). –Consortium Books
It pushes lyric to its limits, often forcing it as close to music as it can get. Using language that feels centuries old and hypercontemporary at the same time, Brolaski reassembles and recodes tradition for a new, queer audience–creating a kind of cant that discloses even as it obfuscates. –Mande Zecca, "The Metalyrical Moment," Public Books
[Of Mongrelitude] is by turns tuneful, flirtatious, dyspeptic. It is the book of a two-spirit Indigenous poet who uses the personal pronoun "it." Of Mongrelitude is also the book of a country singer with a background in medieval studies....It's a dance, a brawl, as though Brolaski swings into a bar with guns blazing, and then, when the bullets run out, reveals it knows martial arts....In this I can see the Julian Brolaski who sings in a country western band, with an unerring ear for what sounds good....when the text is most itself, it swaggers....the poems function as a "ghost dance / w/ its insurgent meter / made up as medicine." –Levi Bentley, West Branch
Julian Talamantez Brolaski captures the terrain of poetry's future. These poems look backward within Western literary traditions while projecting ahead to what's yet arriving. This is the language of song.... Decidedly gifted lyrically, Brolaski is the poet set down in the right time and place to point out to the rest of us the direction our tongues are headed. –Patrick James Dunagan, Rain Taxi
Inspired by Ovid’s instructional Ars Amatoria, with overtones of Renaissance sonnet cycles, Advice for Lovers is a highly wrought volume of poems. Intricately formal but saucy and contemporary in diction, Advice for Lovers walks a fine line between the anything-goes orthography of the Elizabethans and the shifting etymologies of James Joyce. Sexy, kinky, disquieting, Advice for Lovers blazes an erotic trail into the twenty-first century.
What if I’m spirited away to live in a torch song?–Where the landscape is a lover’s discourse? Julian Talamantez Brolaski has me in thrall! In this enchanting book, Julian jacks up the artifice and jacks up the feeling. –Robert Glück
The copy tags the work ‘sexy, kinky, disquieting . . . blazes an erotic trail.’ And it does so with a pervasive humor that does not make light of but rather sinks the moment deeper into the psyche, where sex, pain, longing, and humor all hang out. I’m so into this book! –Michelle Tea
In this aesthetically audacious collection of poems, Julian Talamantez Brolaski offers xir ‘advice to lovers’ in unabashedly voluptuous language. This is dithyrambic verse, variously festive and feisty, impudent and sad. It is beautiful, but never serene. And how could it be? The difference between ‘seeing to’ and ‘singing to’ is not large, and everything in this book suggests that to advise is to love. In giving it, Julian exercises xir native tongue with linguistic amorousness over a wide range of poetic registers. Guidance has never been this much fun; jouissance has never been smarter. –Lyn Hejinian
‘The cure for love is more love,’ and the cure for the languishing lyric lies in the architecture of these poems. Julian Talamantez Brolaski’s Advice for Lovers builds ‘upon the ponderous page’ new structures for our most lustful and deviant acts. A highly intelligent form of re-purposed 16-century gestures that rouses the reading body, again and again. –Renee Gladman
Gowanus atropolis is an ecopoetical exploration of the Gowanus canal in Brooklyn, a recently designated superfund site that was once a fertile fishing ground for the Canarsie Native American tribe. The poems grapple with reconciling the toxicity of the titular Gowanus Canal in Brooklyn and the east river in ‘Manahatta’ with the poet’s search for the pastoral in New York City. A queer elegy for when language might have been prior to thought, where the phrase becomes the thought, rather than the other way around—so that the dystopic might become, if not utopic, at least measurable / pleasurable, ‘melodious offal.’Gowanus atropolis reinscribes, as always already present, both queer and Native spaces in and around the Gowanus through a radical reshaping of English.
Aspirate all h's and brace to meet Sludgie, 'erstwhal' of the Gowanus, displaced echolocator through a lush verbal wildering of neologisms, hot archaisms, and barbed portmanteaus. Brolaski finds the 'herm' in 'hermunculae' and puts the 'gee' back in 'ambigenuity.' The tongue hasn't sounded this flexed and full since Chaucer lapped up Romance, but these damesirs sing instruction with their fishairs: one 'ynvents a grammatical order' so to 'speke englysshe/polymorphously.' –Rodney Koeneke
Once in a while there are poems which create entire fresh terrain. And I'm saying too that it's hard to come home from it, locator dials set anew. I'm jangling from the return, like the world had descended upon me so quickly through the poems it was some time before I realized I was still in one piece, and minted with a beautiful little scar. Julian's deviance is a hazard of poems which bend the muscle of light. I can hardly wait to share our extra strength when we've all read them! –CA Conrad