Paul Cunningham - The Inmost
Printed and assembled by Carrion Bloom Books in SLC, UT in 2020
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"I can nearly recall A as
calla lilies cut angles
into my screen-like face
gone all swerve"
Praise for The Inmost
Anthropomancy teaches us
to see omens in entrails. In The Inmost, Paul Cunningham shows us his
guts – and what a show it is. He gives us love in all its gory glory – the
broken hearts, the tinsel in intestines. The Inmost is inventive,
visceral: a revelation. As I read the book, I felt like a haruspex; that is, I
felt I was reading his inmost, and that he had already read mine. What a
-Derek McCormack, author
of The Well-Dressed Wound
I can't tell you how
stunned I am by The Inmost. It is so learned and so raw! I had no idea
how visceral the entrails, emotional and carnal, would be! And yet, despite the
assertion—or is it protest?—that the speaker is the Apollonian poet of "anti-ascent",
the experience remembered, dissolved and reconstituted seems to culminate in
the frozen image of A's head. It is powerful work and filled with soaring as
well as abject images of love and connection. How brave a poet Cunningham is to
expose himself to us!
-Maria DiBattista, author
of Imagining Virginia Woolf
The Inmost is a starry space between poles: ancient and modern, visceral and virtual, the world of mortals and the world of gods. The rulers here are screen stars, drag queens, and ancient Greek deities: Apollo, Athena, Houdini, Cleopatra, James Dean, and a mysterious "A." Stage magic starts to blur with spiritual transformation. Human desire becomes another spectacle. Cunningham's poetry glitters and slips. Its visions dissolve, flicker past, and cross-fade. The Inmost is a mirror box: a mise en abyme. What's real in these pages? Be prepared for double vision.
-Claire Cronin, author of Blue Light of the Screen: On Horror, Ghosts, and God (Repeater Books, 2020)
The Inmost plays in the dig-site of the lyric, with an "I" who doubly 'slips' "through [the] ruins" or "on animal livers," nakedly, "under [a] coat of locks." These poems imbricate the reader in a process of encryption, whose speaker flits under a "wingly mosaic." Under names that soar "like gales," this "darkly purple" "I" traces a dexterous swerve, a "hacksaw-gasp," who "comet[s] tragically" in mid-air collisions. These poems light-up the page as a glimmer-parole who can shape-shift at any moment: as a "drag king," a James Dean, a likeness, or a lash, an indeterminate aural terrain who plays many roles. And yet this bristling voice can become just as quickly a graffiti "policed in flashes / exaggerated by codes." But this shadow-world, this image-ball, doesn't just survive the gaze, but can stand-up as a darkly "flaming glimmer," sharpening against "the mirror system / of obliterate."
-Madison McCartha, author of Freakophone World (Inside the Castle, 2021)
About the Author
Paul Cunningham is from
Pittsburgh, PA. He is the author of The House of the Tree of Sores (Schism2
Press, 2020). From the Swedish, he is the translator of Helena Österlund’s
Words (OOMPH! Press, 2019). He has also translated two chapbooks by Sara Tuss
Efrik: Automanias (Goodmorning Menagerie, 2016) and The Night’s Belly (Toad
Press, 2016). New writing has most recently appeared in Apartment Poetry, Snail
Trail, Harvard Review, Poem-a-Day, Kenyon Review, Quarterly West, and others.
He is a managing editor of Action Books, co-editor of Radioactive Cloud, and
co-curator of the Yumfactory Reading Series. Cunningham is a PhD candidate at
the University of Georgia, an invited member of the International Network for
Comparative Studies, and he holds a MFA in Poetry from the University of Notre
About the Book
The Inmost was
printed in SLC, UT in 2020 on light blue smooth Mohawk Via paper and
using the long stitch with hand-dyed linen thread that varies slightly
from copy to copy. The cover images were letterpressed from polymer
grey cotton Armand Canal paper on a Vandercook press in the University
of Utah's Book Arts Studio with support from the Book Arts Program and the University of Utah Student Media Council.
Note (1): this book was assembled in a home with a dog.
Note (2): the spine of this book is relatively fragile and shouldn't have much weight or other books placed on top of it.