Reading inconvenience

a blue book cover with gold print reading "Wet Dream - Erin Robinsong" is next to a pink book cover featuring the face of a black cat with a pink nose and one green eye. The text reads "Lauren Berlant - On the Incovenience of Other People"

On 18 November a bunch of us gathered around the ZOOM screen for our seventh iteration of Littoral Listening, on the theme of inconvenience. Beaming in from five different countries, we amazingly fit into a very small space, always exactly the right number and the right people showing up. The space always feels both smaller and bigger than it is.

Life imitated art: before we even began we were thwarted by an incorrect ZOOM link. Shortly thereafter a phone call from my kid channeled itself through my computer interface to interrupt our first reading. Someone had to leave early, someone else came late. Inconveniences couched our attempts to think the concept, constantly asking us to reorient, recenter, recommit. Maybe there’s something to that. Someone quoted Leonard Cohen, approximately: “I hated everyone, but I was generous, and no one found me out.” Other people are inconvenient, but that’s the work.

What does it mean to redistribute inconvenience, as a question of justice?

“bitter invasive healing”

“necessitates so much reckoning”

“plants go where they are needed”

“writing poetry as the oven of the world pre-heats”

And there’s a universe between right and wrong. Loosening, we mused, is what let’s us get into it.

The hardest thing to do is to sit in discomfort.

Readings-out-loud:

  1. Excerpt from Lauren Berlant, “Introduction: Intentions” pp 5-7 from The Inconvenience of Other People (Duke 2022)
  2. Rise: From One Island to Another (Kathy Jetnil Kijiner and Aka Niviana)
  3. Erin Robinsong, “Pre-Heat” from Wet Dream (2022)

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