There is a wonderful suggestive confusion between wonder and wander – as if getting lost and digression were at the root of amazement, of change, maybe even of knowledge. This confusion is at the heart of two new books of poetry, Haute Surveillance by Johannes Göransson and Uche Nduka’s Ijele (Overpass Books). Both Nduka and Göransson are wonderers and wanderers, poets who’ve built their practice on the insistence of possible and impossible transits and translations in which the refused, the expelled and the marginalised dissect and multiply the horizon….
Gaps and ghosts, spaces and spectres pervade Haute Surveillance. The text is littered with monsters, murders, slaves, blacks, women, homosexuals, b-grade movie stars, migrants: the excluded who speak of unexpected, hidden, things that have not been authorised. “I write this novel in praise of zombie movies because they are about the immigration imagination.”
The narrative is itinerant, slippery. It unwinds, confused by voices, rhythms, and accents, “interlingual puns”, “auto-translations” and “automutilations” that befuddle the desire for a secure semantics. It is at once a prose poem, a “novel dedicated to the homos and the awkward perfumists”, a biography of its author, an “autobiography of a foreigner”, “a fashion show dedicated to a riot”, a film script and a theoretical text….
“This is the first lesson in haute surveillance: Always write like you’re a teenage virgin. Always reach for the gun.”
A similar trickster aesthetics is at the heart of Nduka poetics. A Nigerian writer, working out of Germany and America, Nduka, like Göransson, has the unbordered tongue of an immigrant. Also like Göransson he suggests that it is only in the oblique gaze and the excessive and errant language of poetics that we manage to travel to where the rationalist analytics of the social and human sciences do not permit….