Summer AIR: an inaugural writing residency

Written by Ben Fama

My friend Jacqui always says Autumn is “Keats seasons,” never elaborating. And I guess I know what she means. My heart aches, and a drowsy numbness pains / My sense. That line has that “first autumn chill” vibe.

I live surrounded by poetry. I teach it, I write it, I think about it constantly. I have come to believe that the greatest gift an artist can receive is time. When I began speaking to the Ace Hotel Brooklyn about a possible residency for my press, Wonder, our authors were buzzing with excitement to enter a new space, quiet the noise, and get down to work.

I had been working on a poem called “Holy Guardian Angel.” It had, I felt,  a decent start but needed so much more:

Like a seventies hot boat

motoring through someone

else’s reverie,

Perhaps that is what a divine presence could feel like, something pleasant in the background. Anyways, I went on to some editing work. Wonder recently put out a book by Chariot Wish, called A New Heaven and a New Earth. When I first read Chariot’s poems I knew there was something there. There was a lot of resonance with the type of material I’m drawn towards: a transcendent erotics that takes place between the spirit, the flesh and the other. A poetics with an easy relationships to the profane, where one finds a hole in the day, and feels the spirit of the air on the back of your neck.

A poem called “Community Action Center” starts by saying “What god or angel would look to see this?” When I read it, I recollect Wim Wenders 1987 romantic-fantasy film “Wings of Desire,” about invisible, immortal angels, who closely monitor and guide humans through their earthly contradictions and reversals of behavior. In the film, an angel longs to shed his immortality and become a participant in the world, for all its loneliness and contradictions. 

Just as you can’t really stare at the sun, but may know its brightness by how it’s shines on the moon, they say you can’t look directly at God, but you can see God in other people. Chariot’s book is a poetics of that. Consider how Chariot writes: 


the eternal soul isn’t 

wretched and it is 

the greatest joy 

to be in the space 

of totality- 

a decaying body 

an infinite spirit

o sunshine

in an empty place.