Christina Pugh

But the Avant-Garde
April 25, 2019 Pugh Christina





did find ways to wear TV as clothing–the monitors,

I mean.  Artists would steer a television’s carapace,

or stack one on two to build a flickering tower.

What have I learned from this?  Machines can be diaphanous.

Or fleet as the Egyptian Queen that sailed down

the Charles River ferrying TV screens broadcasting

the waters they were floating on.  An odalisque reclined

in electronic fire!  But the best was the TV Bra

for Living Sculpture fronting Charlotte Moorman’s breasts

when she played her cello solo, the bra’s “cups”

actually two TVs against her skin.  Mellifluous

jellyfish agitated one screen, seeming to cast

their aspersions horizon-ward.  Later, her husband

left a note on their car: I have to park here, my wife

has bone cancer, Thank you.  She’d photographed her

scar when she returned from her mastectomy.

And closely crabbed a pain journal throbbing out

the instants of her terminal, young time.  This was

a woman who swam through everything.

Who wanted to document every wilting thing.

And few of us feared radiation then.

Christina Pugh’s fifth book of poems, Stardust Media (University of Massachusetts Press, 2020), was awarded the Juniper Prize for Poetry. She is also the author of four previous books of poems, including Perception (Four Way Books, 2017), which was named one of the best poetry books of 2017 by Chicago Review of Books; and Grains of the Voice (Northwestern University Press, 2013).  Her poems have appeared in The Atlantic, Poetry, Kenyon Review, Colorado Review, Yale Review, and many other publications. She has been awarded a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Fellowship in poetry, as well as fellowships and awards from the Poetry Society of America, the Illinois Arts Council, the Bogliasco Foundation, and others.  She is Professor of English at the University of Illinois at Chicago