outside voices, please (CSU, 2021)

outside voices, please

outside voices, please is a book of poetry and performance texts by artist Valerie Hsiung.

Date: October 5, 2021
Publisher: CSU
Format: Print
Genre: Poetry, Performance
Order from Bookshop, McNally Jackson, Brazos BooksCSU 

Review in Cleveland Review of Books
Excerpt in The Nation
Excerpt in Adroit Journal
Interview in Exclamation’s Gaunlet

"In this shifting assemblage of verse, prose poems, scenes, performance scores, charts and maps, ‘Time unjumping from windows,’ Hsiung’s speaker emerges through clashes of language and its structures—its traumatized syntax, its colonialist dictionaries, its abusive evasions, its obfuscating corporate speak, its xenophobia and its patriarchalism, and its capacity to scorch and dazzle. Out of the urgent ‘confrontation of language,’ outside voices please issues an utterly new invitation into and beyond language: ‘Let us form the obtuse and acute angles of this assaulted triangulation.’"      
           - Lauren Russell

"Valerie Hsiung’s outside voices please is earful of delicate worms wriggling and crisscrossing ocean box. Scattered mouths on its own island. Ocean twisting full of video monitor eyes paging through dead news. Girl flipped around bench tasting each hinge in plastic word. What’s in pocket of each word, the books asks of blurred language? Savage corner you turn around, angle your eye slides down, a close record of each infiltration."
          - Ching-In Chen

“In outside voices please, Valerie Hsiung orchestrates a symphony of voices past, present, and prescient: time (and with it, history) compresses and expands, yielding long poetry sequences reminiscent of Myung Mi Kim’s sonic terrains and C.D. Wright’s documentary poetics. Hsiung’s own geography is inclusive of handwritten documents, multi-communicative (verbal and nonverbal) mini-plays, erasures, concrete poetry, and meta-commentary notes. Certainly this is a poetics of witness, of approaching atrocities too ignoble to repeat, but impossible not to excavate. ‘It’s war,’ Hsiung proclaims, ‘A war out here. And we're preparing for it to get much, much worse.’”
          - Diana Khoi Nguyen

“To enter into the text of outside voices, please is to plunge into a voice made of all voices, a whirring concert of murmurings, glossolalia, commands, scat and static—the sounds the mind picks up from sheer being. This Voice then articulates the ironies, and the sadism of being stuck in a society that doesn't want freedoms for you, that sets you against others in a market system run on basic desires, that sees its idea of you instead of actual you. The reader's pleasure is in gleaning a wry defiance... all of this through the chords by which the speaker's mind is struck. Here I Iearned what the intersection of race, sex, diaspora, and Iistening sounds Iike: a phenomenaI—and dear—ocean.”
            - Cynthia Arrieu-King

"There’s a kind of disease to speaking in Valerie Hsiung’s outside voices, please. Like it’s hacking something up out of the psychic, xenophobic, (neo)colonial bullshit that is English. Like it ingested history and agitated, agitated, agitated it. Like a maddened landline whose busy signal intones wickedly, multilingually, polyvocally: ‘Here is a book for you to read, pernicious reader.’”
          - Aditi Machado

“Hsiung’s outside voices please is densely synaptic, a rewarding cascade within the confines imposed by our well-realized but half-understood systems of meaning, living, and language-making. The lens of this collection zooms in and out intuitively, prompting the reader to incorporate the cellular, molecular, and viral along with the vastness of the conceptual and cosmological. Hsiung shows us that very connection has an impact, and every encounter changes us. Something gets transformed, something gets left behind, something remains itself, something is a testament to the coercion of change, something is the singing that persists under power differentials. Something, something, something—it’s all in the voices and stories told from the outsiders who intelligently, devastatingly acknowledge their histories and futures in this collection. Smells, textures, memories, visions, electrical connections, and the lived outcomes of political power-play, in all their forms, are included in this worldview. There is also the pleasure that Hsiung’s poetry provides, the drumbeat wordplay that flexes your face and heart as you read over the sedulous and unexpected associations that both reflect and meaningfully distort our saturated world stage. To read the world through outside voices please is to feel challenged and also to feel seen. Are you ready to enter?“
         - Ginger Ko

"outside voices please moves the mundane and intimate violence of English-as-axis-language outside, where it plays out as gash, ripple, unforgivingly abrupt verses, fragments, and something loud enough to disrupt the propriety of colonialism. Hsiung writes, ‘Give me an English map / and I will show you an English love, an English rape(d) word.’ Her work brings what has been discarded as noise into verse, turning its back on the imperative to render entire worlds meaningless through erasure."
          - Raquel Salas Rivera

“. . . tests murmur slur, blurs outburst tan-
trum codes inside translation . . . crackin-
g performativity. . . refugee slippage of CA-
ST OF MANY . . . this book is a braver-
y . . . mess and moss “becoming the weap-
on” . . . “you now have two minutes to r-
un outside” pick it up, be brave, say yes . . .”
         - Gabrielle Civil

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