Evening Will Come: A Monthly Journal of Poetics (Issue 30, June 2013—Buch Märchen Issue)

I look to everyday magic in art to remember how to live: how to estrange and vivify ordinary objects and beings. So little, really, is ordinary, but to remember this I need the brain chemical of painting and film and reading. By ordinary object I mean also the body as an object, and in particular Kiki Smith’s human-size beeswax body and how the softly mobile quality and sheen of the wax make me worry it will rise up and live. I am guilty of wanting the dead to stay dead and the living to go on living. My gawky fascination with the freakshow of the body—the seven-tongued farmer, the jaw thrust into the brain, the elbow busted stirring oatmeal—finds its way into my fiction whether I invite it or not. The rendering isn’t clinical, but it isn’t sensational either. Kiki Smith’s Blood Pool delivers a shock of the everyday unclinical sort. Smith is acting on something we know intimately and depend on minute by minute: we have backbones, vertebrae in a curvy stack. The shock of Blood Pool comes from seeing the backbone protrude: it is in place and also not. Dislodged. Sometimes magic comes from simply dislodging, from a known thing appearing where it oughtn’t. I think it’s an eyelash that appears in the funeral scene of Joy Williams’ State of Grace. That eyelash has oracular powers. Nobody says so but it’s so. I had a thrummy doomed oracular feeling when I wrote blackened baby teeth into my little blind boy story: I saw teeth and in an instant they were becoming something else. They were buckshot. They were food. They were tiny flightless corvids.

Noy Holland

[Everyday Magic]