I raise a toast to the “Rimbaud of Shit,” Ryan Cook. The cyber punk femme raised within the “shitty” world of patriarchy and chronic health brings us on a roller coaster ride in this “booty/ful collection of cringe” featured by Tupelo Quarterly, complete with a bowel system colonized with C. difficile. The mirth of “queer choir kids” and fast-paced rhythm of social media in their poem reach towards a profound reckoning with the self, always in connection with the body as perceived by society, often as cruel as it is flippant. In “Travel Diary,” Cook sits us in the dark of the Parisian restaurant where the speaker and their hard-of-seeing father figure eat in silence. Here, the restaurant’s claim that the darkness brings out the flavor is proven by that saturation of feeling in the gulf between two family members who love each other and yet cannot quite communicate that love. At their core, Cook’s poems teach us how to refuse to be pinned down, as they unveil life’s mysteries with aplomb.
Ryan Cook is a Brooklyn based genderqueer poet and performer. An MFA candidate in poetry at Columbia, they have been awarded the teaching fellowship. Their work specializes in queer mythologies, digital cultures, and curses, and has been published in Thimble Lit Mag, Iterant, No Dear Mag, the Poetry Project’s Footnotes Series, Hot Pink Mag, and the Nightboat Blog. They also host events at McNally Jackson Bookstore, as well as work as a program associate for The Flow Chart Foundation. Along with Aiden Farell, they co-host the “Unnamed Reading Series” that features artists from all over New York City. You can follow them at @Ryan_patrick_cook.