Alterity & Emergence: A Feminist Folio Curated & introduced by Karla Kelsey

Alterity disrupts the status quo, renders the familiar strange, and insists on being in and of itself seen. And in disrupting, rendering, and insisting, reveals the potential to be and to do otherwise.

This folio of feminist work begins with Claire Marie Stancek’s poems, selected from a manuscript titled of care as of this encounter. In form and content Stancek sharply contrasts a mother’s care with obstetric care in America and its attendant violences. Common to all, birth—coming into being absolutely dependent on other humans for nurturance—is an experience necessarily shared. Shaped by the same forces that structure society, the experience is also profoundly unequal. In Lara Crystal-Ornelas’s translations selected from Atlantica and the Rustic, Mexican poet María Baranda explores the natural world’s continuous processes, rendering the role of scientific information sensual by channeling it through a figure named “My Friend.” From the larger work Flowers in Bloom an UnBordered Encyclopedia, poupeh missaghi’s essay, “ پامچال / Pamtchal / Primrose,” meditates on language, translation, and narrative via family stories and lost histories. For “What a Performance | Extracts,” Sara Crangle selects and introduces seven sections of a roman à clef by the avant-garde author, artist, and activist, Anna Mendelssohn. Left unpublished at her death in 2009, the 500-page manuscript, in Mendelssohn’s words, is “a story/ film/ play/ poem/ musical/ comedy about someone who didn’t want to be the person described.” From a larger project Good Morning Trilogy, Carla Harryman’s selections from “Scales for the Living” moves through canyons and seas developing the liminal space of dream and also of dialogue and collaboration. In this work the between steps forth, both visceral and real. A performance of “Bearings” with musician and composer Jon Raskin accompanies the work here.

My gratitude to Tupelo Quarterly for inviting me to gather work for this folio—it is an entire delight. To Claire Marie Stancek, María Baranda, poupeh missaghi, Anna Mendelssohn, and Carla Harryman for the past, present, and future of your work, thank you. To Sara Crangle and Lara Crystal-Ornelas, who have created access to these works, deep gratitude. To you—thank you for reading.

The author of six books, Karla Kelsey’s most recent poetry collection is On Certainty (Omnidawn, 2023). She is the editor of Lost Writings: Two Novels by Mina Loy (Yale University Press, 2024) and co-publishes SplitLevel Texts with Aaron McCollough.