Name: Claire Finch
Hometown: Denver, Colorado
Current city: Paris
Occupation: Doctoral candidate in Gender Studies, University of Paris 8
What does poetry mean to you?
Poetry is a way to confront fear, to expand possibility, to enact rage for fucked up systemic power disparities, to imagine that there’s some version of the future that’s less cruel, filled with ecstatic and empathetic co-living.
Who are your favorite poets?
My favorite poets are Kathy Acker, Violette Leduc and Dodie Bellamy. The books I take everywhere: Acker’s My Mother Demonology, Leduc’s L’affamée, and Bellamy’s The Letters of Mina Harker.
Why do you like these poets?
I cycle constantly through the three of them because each gives a way to explore what I experience as obsessive attraction and repulsion to the fem “I.” There’s this immense pressure to cut the fem “I” out because fem-first-person tends to be read as either autobiographical or irrelevant, definitely not experimental or artistic. Acker, Leduc, and Bellamy not only keep it, but expand it, throw it everywhere, and reading them gives me a lot of courage. I keep calling them poets even though none of them are typically classified as poets. Yet, they all practice a poetic project characterized by a precise attention to detail, sound, form, and syntax on the level of the sentence. Then they push each sentence into larger masses, investing the fragment into a long-term process of accumulation. We’re left with a weird residue. Maybe this is the shape of poetry outside of cis-masculinity.
I finished the below poem/portrait while thinking about my answers for Verse of April. It's part of a long-term, ongoing, and super long project (hundreds of portraits and counting) in which I manipulate autobiographic language and diary conventions. It's my version of experimenting with the fem-first-person that I'm following through Leduc, Acker, and Bellamy. Each portrait is a mix of life, porn codes (the ultimate present-tense), and stolen things.
Portrait #214 (Reading Violette, Kathy and Dodie while thinking about him, and you)
When we fuck lately it’s really quick so I ask, can we put some time aside, at least three hours? I want to fuck you for at least three hours. The length of a university seminar. If I don’t taste his pussy then it feels like it didn’t even happen. I am moving away from lowercase or small P politics : it is no longer sufficient just to have something in my cunt. As a nation we need the immersive unity of synesthesia. Whenever we aren’t together I’m worried that he never existed, but I try not to act crazy. There’s nothing to do about it, of course. Another contract named trust lines up next to bureaucracy and paperwork, and there’s always something going on in the background that you can’t control. I mean look at globalization. It’s been months since I’ve fisted him, and I’m out of good lube. Where do you get good lube in Paris anyway? I guess globalization’s failed because I still have to import my organic, unflavored, non-irritating, all-natural, paraben-free lube from San Francisco. I write porn as the café fills up. I want to make it all last longer. I need to pee but don’t move because I’m coming back for you. I want to lick every part of the right edge of your cunt. I want to never work again because I’m busy licking your thigh. I want to move toward your asshole, bite the thick skin of your asscheek, grab a handful of your hip, and crawl on your back. Now, I’m licking the back of your head, where your hair’s short again because you can get it cut for five euros in Belleville. I hope you don’t mind me licking the back of your head. We need more time. I know how to fix this: I put my right hand on your right shoulder. I move my left hand to your ass, move down, and find the opening of your cunt. I lick my fingers. I put four fingers into your cunt, and you’re stretched between my left hand, pushing hard into you, my right hand on your shoulder pulling you back into me. I want to lick the center of your back. I want to pull your ass up against me, push your head against the bed with my other hand. Push into me. Pressure is always double: force pushes force back. Sit back further on my hand my hand pushing into your cunt. Small P politics according to Emily Apter is the everyday form. But the unexceptional is the interesting. We’ve put too much into obvious forms, and we forget about all the other stuff happening in the meantime. I looked at the clock the other day, and I knew that as long as you fucked me for at least six minutes first, then, as soon as I started to touch my clit I was officially less than four minutes away from coming. See if you can get your hand all the way in, in under ten minutes. I want you to do it for me: if I outsource the touching of my clit to you then it all lasts longer. I’m running on the political platform that fucking you reinvents time and so reinvents labor. With you it’s big P Politics all the time: your Pussy makes me think we’re more resilient than we thought.
Claire is a touring member of the fem/nonbinary/trans authors’ collective RER Q. You can follow more of her work at www.clairefinch.com.