Metatron Prize


for Rising Authors

 

 

 

 

 

Stevie

Belchak

 

Pleasure Craft

 

 

 

 

 

Stevie Belchak is a writer and poet living in Oregon. She is the author of State of My Undress (o-blek editions), and her poetry and nonfiction can be found in Third Coast, Hobart Pulp, Peach, The Hopper, blush lit, The Quarterless Review, Feelings—among others.

steviebelchak.com

 

Who are you?
My name is Stevie and I currently live with my partner in Astoria, OR, which is right where the Columbia River opens its big mouth to the sea. I'd like to say I simply moonlight as a brand strategist and namer, but that fact is like many writers, I squirrel away hours in order to write. When I do, I mostly write poems about what it means to be sick, sad, and a woman in the world, though recently I have been drawn to essay—the writing of which has been propelled by two primary compulsions. The first is the rare and incurable condition I've suffered from since I was 29: gastroparesis, or stomach paralysis. The second only rightly unfolds from this: illness in relation to heredity. I'm both Muscogee Creek and Cherokee, and early onset connective tissue and rheumatic diseases are common among native peoples and many members of my immediate family. Lately, I've been asking the big questions: where do illnesses come from, where do we come from, what even is origin. Hopefully, the world will see more on these topics—and soon...

 

 

What is your book about?
Pleasure Craft is a book where absurdist whimsy runs wild. Divided into two parts, it explores sexuality, femininity, illness, and what it means to be a human in an increasingly consumption-driven and digital-first world, all while feeling a little indulgent and having a bit of fun. 


In full transparency, I feel that poetry deserves a moment of visceral pleasure and levity. There is so much sadness and pain in the world today, and some of today's poetry settles into this—casting off the funny and refusing the irreverent. While Pleasure Craft certainly addresses weighty things, it was important to me that it doesn't shy away from play or humor.


In short, I'd say the poems in Pleasure Craft are part necessary buoy for the terrible (and dizzying) present, part party raft in a sea of overwhelming sameness, and 100% my lifeline.

 

 

Could you tell us a bit about the process of writing this book?
Pleasure Craft is divided into two major sections. One that leans into vertical poetry and slippage—a style I'm naturally inclined to write in and a form that allows for moments of delight, but also sudden, unexpected revelation. This section is more personal and draws heavily from my life experiences, everyday interactions, and feelings. In the second section, the poems move away from that which is most natural for me: lyricism. The lines also become more extended, widening for absurdity. This section hinges on the language of now (think: marketing speak, digital verbiage) which is in and of itself completely lush, incredibly strange, and—at times—downright absurd. These latter poems desperately seek to make sense of humanness in a world that is utterly nonsensical—to communicate feeling (be it sadness, anger, anxiety, self-inflation, irreverence) in the year that is 2022.

 

 

What are some books you’ve read and enjoyed lately and/or books that influenced the writing in your submitted work?
Loveability (Fonograf Editions) by Emily Kendal Frey is possibly my favorite book of 2021; Frey writes more vertically and so there are just these incredible, incredible moments of surprise ("I decorate a box/With the cosmos/When it falls open/Oh I say/Forgive me"). And, her lines pass from the magical ("I woke inside a burning tree") into the mundane: salty dogs and muffins, Taco Bell and pregnancy tests. I feel a kinship with the style and thought and the weaving of the extra with the ordinary

 

Still, so many others have given me "permission" to write. I would say Sonia Sanchez's Morning Haiku was/is pretty important to me, as is the writing of Plath, Sexton, Clifton, Myles, and more. Heather Christle actually completely blew up poetry for me. I picked up The Trees The Trees (Octopus Books) after having not written a poem in 5 years and was never quite the same. The interline breaks, the darkness, the humor—it showed me that writing doesn't have to force profundity but can be profound in small ways. That writing can come from sad places but—like life—doesn't have to be of one note. 

 

 

How would you describe your book using emojis only?
🕸🕷⚔️🧨🕸🔮🔪👽. 🤌🏼.
➕
❌❌❌. 🚬. 🚿. ☠️. 🙊
➕
💸💸💸💸💸💸💸. 🛀. 😘

 

 

Anything else you'd like to share?
My chapbook State of My Undress is out via o-blek editions, which I am incredibly thankful for—and thrilled about. While I think there may only be one poem from Pleasure Craft in it, it includes many poems that were forebears to this work. Also, a shout out to Jayson Keery who was also just published via o-blek and is nominated for this prize, too. It's so nice to be in good company.

 

 

 

PLEASURE

CRAFT

[EXCERPT]

 

 

 

I MODEL MY HIPS AFTER MODERN NOSTALGIA

 

schedule a virtual

appointment

to view

my sadness

over many

small windows

I find it useful

paying to have

unlimited access

to squares

I can fall through

hell

serotonin

can’t keep me

peaking

with the tulips

craning

my neck’s

vertices

above the blur

in my bedroom

here

I feel multi-use

and bad

for the suburban woman

in me

buying an instant

dewy glow

like a torment

of wanting

I fear

I am

pro-

collagen

swallowed

by balloon sleeves

and folding words

into high

performance

limbs

on my mattress

I press history

and chili

powder

between

my legs

to make newer

and even

sadder rivers

across my floor

is the gray sky

fishtailing

its big

fat organ

I want to pull it

over me

like a tarp

of crushed cashmere

its

uneven texture

lengthening

over my bones

so tenderly

like

here I am

typical

being buried

alive

by someone else’s

compassion

indistinct chatter

this

character limit

I am sick of

communing

through latex

and a mouth

piled thick

with cotton

seeing others

outside

this poem

revolve

mechanically

as pure

economical units

round and round

and round

the drain

it’s horrible

watching all

the hair

on earth

diptych in silver

white streams

spooling out

from our individual

trembling

we are

so very scared

being this

natural

and Edwardian

just trying

to stay alive

in the present

it feels impossible

googling

heat maps

and loneliness

the shadows

of flowers

to remember

an approximation

of their unfurling

the whorl

it took

hundred of years

to evolve into

and being redirected

by de facto

preferences

we’ve come

to expect

perhaps

that we have always

been conditioned

to double click

on our innards

tuck our bodies

under

the thick

field of static

digital holes

deemed

seamless

and so

very accessible

if only

I could truly operate

unchaperoned

in the dark

working

to finger

the quiet

around me

like some kind of

remembrance

I am writing about

life

and death

heaven

hell

the relaxed fit

of my bust

ready to open

here

upon touch

or another’s

facial

recognition

it’s hard work

to appear

somewhat ordinary

my tongue

purling its long

body into

a warmer feeling

of clonazepam

in order to stay

in the room

with you

I have to massage in

dopamine

reality

giving a little

at its corners

as if it really

could

disappear

in me

the surest

easiest path

anywhere

is folding up

the ground

so why

do I keep

elongating

my presence

flattening

my abdomen

in retrospect

I suppose it’s

to get

a little closer

to the parts

I’ve redacted

thumbing

my polarized surface

cellulite

poorer

chat function

to understand

my lack

how I can

make my body

kind

of meta

so I can finally

crawl out

of this middle-

class comfort

find my way

onto another

page

on my phone

clicking

Show More

to remember

people

dancing

thinking perhaps

one day

I can own

the shimmering

grass

my tongue

pecking

at all

its glitter

I imagine

it’s just

that good

 

 

 

I THINK I AM TOO HEAVY WITH THE MEMORY OF RAYON

and pulling

myself

barely together

in the shower

my body running over

all of its edges

trying to find

another

in this space

of elegy

at 130 decibel

I am holding in

all of my orange

dresses

and thinking

a lot more

about fractals

of subdividing

subdivisions

how distance separates

my cells

they tell me

the smallest versions

of trying

are somehow

in me

that I was made

to make

and remake

burnt sugar

in what is left

of my womb

when no one

is watching

I resect my bowels

with a certain

affection

like a black widow

aching

for original beams

a more

quiet oasis

my hands

are littered

with shareable content

it’s how I stay

connected

to other women

secreting silicone

gel and

paralytics

like a flower

I run my lips

along siding

and stucco

to feel more alive

eating away

at the repeat

traumas

the relics of apology

I have opened up for

I store them

under my tongue

in some

small victory

flick them

back and forth

like between

two people

they remind me it’s time

to start moving

to feel better

I let my fingers wander

back into my body

cutting my voice

from out

of the air

when no one else

is watching

or here

in the room to notice

that I have

even gone

 

 

 

I AM SO VERY LUCKY SOAKING MYSELF STRAIGHT THROUGH

It’s going so well I’d like to lick your gigantic brand essence.

For real, it’s like magnanimous the negative space in my heart.

I am flowering at scale with on-demand effort.

I am blossoming lustily out into deeply oceanic pheromones.

The feeling of burgeoning is inside me like a soft bouquet of rolling papers.

I mistype lawn party when I see things blooming from my crumble.

It’s like a celebration—refastening my big white goose feathers.

It’s like a soiree—being strapped to a gurney on a tarmac.

I am living it up like the state’s regulatory body.

I am making the most of creating the only real texture for miles.

They say cloud nine is a superior grade of plastic injected with essential oils.

They say you can binge drink kool-aid while others go out like sparkle around you.

They say you can get down.

That you can be merry.

That you can even live in clover.

And, I’ve been all alone making advancements with formal constraints in the bedroom.

I’ve been seeing enormous success cutting my hair to get closer to my buyer persona.

I’m loving that I’m able to touch the word spacious with a little more satisfaction.

It’s stupendous to see how I am quivering-like for your viewing pleasure.

It’s exciting to watch myself hit it big with a memorial to my inseams on a waterbed of vipers.

I’m so very lucky soaking myself straight through with tamarind and whiskey.

I am going to town and putting the flags out for all the courtesans to notice.

I am letting my hair down and kicking my heels up with proper social distance.

I am getting it on with my new pillowy form and all of its extremities.

I have it made with my body moving rapidly outward.

Let me live a little extravagantly like a teaser for a reboot.

Let me sing aloud with the this brightening vitamin-C serum.

Let me savor all the outdoor hardware in multiple finish options.

I want to be so very high and with you dancing on this hog.