alli simone defeo is my best friend. What's cool abt that sentence is how many people it is applicable to. I have known alli since we were very small freshmen at a tiny art school in New Hampshire. After a few weeks of knowing each other we ended up becoming roommates sort of by happenstance, and lived in the tiniest of dorm rooms which was soon full to the brim of all of our stuff, our sadness and our sentimentalities. We found ourselves through each other that year, like we were on some new level of connectedness, we led each other into our own queerness. Never have I found such easy intimacy with a friend, and to this day it is one of the strongest loves I have felt. We shared our most hurt parts with each other, have seen each other's trauma and loved each other more fiercely for it. Found transness in each other, opened up into ourselves, together. This sort of love and friendship that makes the world a bearable and sometimes beautiful place is what i love you here’s a gigantic worm unearths for us the reader. This book is the first full length collection that alli has had published,coming after a prolific list of chapbooks and other multidisciplinary endeavors. I love you here's a gigantic worm brings to mind the Jenny Holzer piece:
In a dream you saw a way to survive and you were full of joy
It’s as if i love you is this dream, bringing us linguistically through seasons, through light,
through gender, and through time.
The very first line brings us to the edge of a day ;
the sun surrenders itself in the hands of earth
And we enter the nighttime, a time of magic and transcendence, a time of ritual.
The poems in i love you both aesthetically and thematically bring to mind Sappho’s fragments, delving into love and pain, so often enmeshed within each other. Images of flowers and fruit are consistent within the collection, adding to the overall themes of the cyclical nature of pain as well as healing, the night turns to day, winter to spring, trauma to healing.
my mounted unit came just in time i
have been trying to fold myself over
my hurt, “thank you thank you” saying
to the rain touch the ground or touch
my body, i fuck myself like i fuck
other structures of earth to take into
my mouth with my feet the magnolias
begin to slow in their green wool caps
Throughout the collection, we are given small breaks from the heaviness of trauma and bodily existence in humorous little fragments
thank you 420
Or the lines
the magnolias joined the party
“give me hot wheels” i say to god in the night
These silly little messages mixed in, a joke you would text your best friend, are exalted to small prayers, only adding to the overall feeling of love exuding from this collection.
alli’s use of language is reminiscent in many ways of ee Cummings, from unusual word order and idiosyncratic syntax, to metaphorical imagery of the body and nature, often sensual and ecstatic. Lines that stick in your head, the ones that you hold onto forever, that float into your thoughts every now and then, when you need to be reminded of them. There's a sense of pushing at the boundaries, bringing a brand new kind of joy and silliness to the party (the party being poetry). an acrostic that spells out slip knot, a reference to a viral video?(the one where that kid falls off a skateboard and his friend very genuinely suggests they peeing on the offending damn ass gay ass rock) reptilian shapeshifting? What more could u ask for? It's an exploration into the particular complexities of finding oneself as a transmasc person, finding the boyhood within yourself, the inherent violence that comes with that and the challenges of finding softness in these spaces.
i love you here's a gigantic worm is just one of alli’s gifts to this world, but they give it so generously and with such care. It is a contemplation on how such softness can be found in a world full of pain, how we can search for this spring in our bodies and in our trauma, how to love when you have been given pain, how to love your hurt like a dear friend. Reading i love you here's a gigantic worm is like coming out of a dream; that one where for one precious moment, you feel your body in the sun, you're in your body and it is okay, like you've surpassed every boundary come out of your cocoon new, and you are okay and everything is okay, and for a while after you wake up you still feel warm.
Ash Strange is a hybrid artist living in Rochester NY, where they work full time at a chocolate shop and try their best to make nice things. In March 2016 they published the multimedia project the earth hurts so much now through glo worm press. They try to commit themselves to being as soft as humanly possible