SPAM Press, May 2022
Paperback, 44 pages
TRAVESTY58 is an experimental pamphlet that over- and under- writes the ancient Chinese text, the I Ching. Focusing on Hexagram 58—the Joyous Lake—as its central anchor, this text blends procedural digital-language techniques in order to generate a new hyper-textual divining manual: a reassembled Lake whose surface is clogged with toxic translation detritus, phantom spam calls, invasive robot squirrels, George Oppen's wooden cabinets, and shreds of yellow skin.
'In Jay Gao's new pamphlet, 'virtual ghosts' reconfigure inert, recently shed skin to create an opaque shelter. For whom? Questions of home and touch co-mingled, for me, to generate a poetics both bodily and with-held. From whom? Thinking is private. 'EMPTIED. BACKSPACE'. Yes. Like that.'
Bhanu Kapil, author of How To Wash a Heart
'Jay Gao shreds the received text of the I Ching, smashes hegemonic translations with new procedures, pollutes nostalgia with corrupted files. TRAVESTY58 is meta data take over, a machine rereading with an oracular bent. The poet as mechanical Turk finds affinity with other lowly devices: printers, electric toothbrushes, and surveillance cameras. White is excretion, excess, scum. The page is toxic, melted, but also polished, varnished. Finding joy in the de-familiar, these poems harness the critical forces of detritus and refusal.'
J.R. Carpenter, author of An Ocean of Static