Empire in Shade
Essay Press

In 2008, I wrote a story about how bodies talk without words. I wanted the story to not just describe this dance but to perform it. The interaction would be visceral—the exchange melancholic yet full of lust. I wanted words to retain the unsayable: the subtle movements of a body in heat. In the years since, I kept rewriting this story, using different techniques, different syntaxes and forms, in hopes that I would find a successful method of gestural writing.

Compiled with essays on somatic writing, language as a plastic art, and figuration studies, these stories became the basis for Imperial Physique, which was shortlisted for the 2016 Essay Press Open Book Contest, the 2017 FC2 Ronald Sukenick Innovative Fiction Contest, the 2017 Deborah Tall Lyric Essay Book Prize, and the 2018 Cleveland State University Essay Book Prize.

Empire in Shade includes two stories that explore the way our bodies hover between animal and human, civil and wild. The melancholy—and underlying verve—of imagining Western empires in decline serve as a backdrop for a lone figure searching city streets, decaying architecture, and sand dunes for some type of physical connection. What arises is the loss of—and longing for—touch at the edge of imperialism, historical violence, and personal shame.

A third story, "Homo-Oeconomicos,"  can be found in Fact-Simile.

Digital Chapbook
52 pages, 5" x 8"
Publication Date: 1 May 2017
Essay Press Groundloop Series #91
PDF: Online / Download