A Bony Framework for the Tangible Universe is one of the most necessary books I’ve ever encountered. The speaker’s experience of disability—burning, light, love, and everything else—covers the body like a new skin. The breathtaking visual elements scaffolding the work are its bones, and with each new line we are reminded: “Bless these sensations more tenacious than pain.”
—Nicole Oquendo, multimodal poet & essayist
What occasions assembling a new body? Is language even sufficient for this task or does it always demonstrate its own body-forming shortcomings? So much literature from marginalized spaces has contended with these question. In A Bony Framework for the Tangible Universe, poet and multimedia artist D. Allen finds their voice among erasures from dictionary definitions, lyrical polyphony, the urgency of second person, and the tug-of-wars between rural and urban spaces for people with disabilities to ritualize gestures of survival in sites arrowed with pain, destruction, surveillance, and control. Allen offers us their own visual productions—with echoes of Joseph Cornell’s boxes—and assembles centos on the page to find the “knife” in all of us and to ask what it’s there to do. “To inhabit a body with secrets welded inside every cell is to live in a place without learning its landscape,” they write, evoking how living with disability can be a constant process of (re)orientation, (re)acquaintanceship, and (re)fermentation. What does the disabled body want today that it couldn’t foresee wanting last week? Is the disabled body the impetus for a new metaphysical world? As Allen has sewn this collection, I too have lived with these poems. I’ve watched them become what you, necessary reader, hold before you. I hope they offer you the same resoluteness they’ve offered me.
—Roy G. Guzmán, author of Restored Mural for Orlando
More about the book
Excerpts and previous versions of A Bony Framework for the Tangible Universe have been published at District Lit, Rogue Agent, Connotation Press, Black Warrior Review, Lockjaw Magazine, and QDA: A Queer Disability Anthology.
A Bony Framework for the Tangible Universe is a hybrid collection of lyric essays, poems, dictionary erasures, and images that emerged out of the poet’s diagnosis, in their mid-twenties, with a connective tissue disorder. Slipping in and out of intimate interiors, open fields, city sidewalks, flowering gardens, construction sites, doctor’s offices, and fluctuating shorelines, the speaker gathers answers to the question: What holds us together when the body falls apart? Imperfect solutions arrive in the form of queer intimacy and kinship, long-term relationships with landscapes, collections of strange and familiar objects, and language itself. A Bony Framework for the Tangible Universe is constantly breaking and and putting itself together in a messy cycle of adaptation and resistance.
Support for this Project: A Letter of Gratitude from D.
In the seven years it took to complete the manuscript, I received life-giving support from so many people and organizations who believed in this work, previously titled Connective Tissue. This book would not exist without that generous support.
An incomplete and ever-evolving catalog of gratitude:
Big thanks to grey, kiki, Admiral, and the LGBTQ Narratives writer-activist community in Madison, WI, including our Conceal & Carry: Queers Exposed family, and the Queerspeak Open Mic at Dutch’s Auto, where I first realized I was working on a book; the Atlantic Center for the Arts, Mark Doty, and my generous armadillo crew of writer-poets in Florida who helped me envision the project’s first shape; to Fred Swanson and the HJ Andrews Experimental Research Forest for giving me an old-growth forest haven in which to draft new material before starting grad school; to all of the individual friends, family, and supporters who contributed to my two project-related crowdfunding campaigns in 2013-14; to everyone who wrote a letter of recommendation, read my work samples and statements, and talked me through the process of applying to grad school; to the University of Minnesota for taking me on as a grad student and for offering funding in numerous forms, and to the staff, faculty, colleagues, mentors, students, and collaborators who helped the book take its current form, especially to Roy, Sugi, Kim, Ray, Julie, and my MFA cohort; to Jerod Santek and Write On, Door County! for hosting me two winters in a row while I wrote and revised; to Nate, Tryn, Jared, Leah, Zach, Kate, and The Lighthouse Works community, for supporting me creatively and emotionally during final revisions; to The Loft Literary Center and the Jerome Foundation for grant support and to Nicole Oquendo, whose manuscript consultation was invaluable in the final stages; to Lynne and the incredible folks at The Operating System for giving my book a home and for being a community I am grateful and humbled to be a part of; and to my family near and far, both biological and chosen, without whom I would not be here to make the work in the first place.