What happens when two brilliant and sensitive minds unfettered by conventional categories brave the inter- and intra- personal depths of humanity and engage one another—and all of us—in the generative dance of definition via a monumental, no-holds-barred cornucopia of all things sensual, experiential, spiritual, and imaginable? This does. And you won’t want to miss it.
This glossy tongue treats your mind to a sensuous spelunking of horizontal thought aerobics bending “Gender” around the myths that made it with allusions to "The cruise director, that great and abominable Noah, keeps shoveling the elements of species along, in his wood warping boat." and allowing us to rediscover the etymology of our own being.
Benjamin C--Roy Cory Garnett, Toad Suck Review
Tongue A Queer Anomaly is just that, a lexicon that deviates from the common rule. A queer glossary that presents us with a new language, a fresh nomenclature birthed by poets t thilleman and j/j hastain in their revolutionary, ongoing collaboration. Weaving myth, the primal with the post-modern, the body politic becomes a great mother melding into the essential, the male and female mind bonding in definitions that become ecstatic incantations. In a time of media war and cultural collapse, Tongue reminds us that words are sacred. They conjure and enchant. They destroy. Here there is a celebration of what is sensual, sexual, allegorical, primordial, delightful, and whacky. A blending of truth and fabrication, of high-minded purpose and high jinx. Tongue sets itself in opposition to the demons of statuary. The poets elevate what is subtle, nuanced, lavish, and strange. Like “the soup tureen, full of magic brew-stew” prepare to be overwhelmed by its riches. An explosion of hyperbole, understatement, and oxymoron.
In this collaboration between two poets — two liberators — true inventiveness lives at the forefront of experience and is delivered in a glossary of "queer diction." Referred to as a "psychic" book by the authors, the words on each page don't serve as anchors to meaning, but let loose any kind of identity to be what it wants to be at the moment. In this way, we — along with the usual chokeholds of implication — are all freed. To read Tongue is to experience a hinge as an "open field, with nothing else in it…the deepest kind of relief."
hastain and thilleman apply heat [read passion, imagination, abandonment] to the form [of thought and language] to discover new form. not formlessness, but new, inimitable form. a form in which there is no distinction between language and thought: they are one. even no distinction between language and thought and reality. they are one. the creation/discovery of form is the primary creative act. we are not reading a newspaper we are reading news made new by coming into the written in the act the action of writing.
Tongue A Queer Anomoly is a Samuel Johnson’s dictionary—if Samuel Johnson had absorbed Foucault, Jeannette Winterson and Johnny Rotten—for the chaotic, universally catastrophic, collapsing, latter day, ruinous, emerging world. The language in this post-post-post lyrical and gently violent piece of irreverence and linguistic revolution by j/j hastain and t thilleman is a radical, lovely, lush, painful reinvention of language word by word, image by image, concept by concept. This is a dictionary for the new body, the new sexuality, the new collective, the new wrecked, fragmented Homo Sapiens, for the new damaged world.
Sam Witt, editor, Devouring the Green: Fear of a Human Planet, where portions first appeared
Presented as a glossary, this fat little book is a captivating collaboration between t thilleman and jj hastian. A refreshing hybrid of prose poems, proclamations, philosophy and plans, it’s an exegetic unveiling of language and thought.
Jeffrey Cyphers Wright
Clef is a multisensory palimpsest— a poetic manifesto that reaches right through you. “A page/ that is always a simultaneity or a multiplicity”. It stimulates on myriad levels—visually, viscerally, lyrically, emotionally, philosophically, sonically, spiritually—and if it could be like Harold and Maude’s magic scent machine and emit varied sensuous odors, it surely would. Layering of ephemeral, eternal, ethe(r)eal—smearing and rubbing all inside—a vibrant palette explodes in hole ... Clef sees into our dark with intuition, wit, and grace—a honed (in)sight that j/j and tt have developed in themselves and in each other. Joy of musicality, intimacy in correspondence, mindfulness in the moment, and the heightened perception to focus/ and penetrate the cosmic dwelling inside the everyday self: “this embodying/ GOD EVERYWHERE”.
Struggling to find a mythos to convey our early twenty-first-century malaise, hastain and thilleman approximate a “diapason,” a “fixed standard of pitch,” a “compass of a voice.” But because existing notions about literature have led us in circles, the authors “leap into existences from a transcendent root-stem.” Dean Kostos,The Brooklyn Rail
j/j and TT make a correspondence in Emerson’s sense—the original green building, if you will—when two have the inside with the outside. They begin with the commercial (the outside, publishing industry’s inside), and the correspondence grows organically from there to include exchanges on the nature of sexuality (both inside and manifest on the social outside) and the relevance of the mythological in our postmodern living (tracing myth back to origins, inside ancient humans, but in the context of literature, which is outside us and socializing). I come away from reading their high-energy 300-plus pages with my clearest sense to date—and I have been wrestling with psychomachiatic truths for several years now—of what amounts to a statement for our generation on the significance of Poetry.
Approximating Diapason is a going beyond, a pushing through, a penetration that has an oracular feel, although it is a dialogue between the poets t thilleman and j/j hastain, who discover and create in these pages a visionary poetics for our time. Stephanie Dickinson
In Approximating Diapason poets j/j hastain and t thilleman have formed out of a conversation through letters a collaborative and deeply sensory account of their expeditions in life and poetry. I don’t use expedition lightly, as hastain and thilleman like the shamans of old, transform themselves into their revelations as they speak. Indeed, prophecy fills each page of this 21st century manifesto, a manifesto of poetics, but also of sexual elaboration and personal embroidery.
Jeffrey Beam, Galatea Resurrects
In Approximating Diapason, hastain and Thilleman engage in an epic correspondence, creatively paralleling, intersecting, and intertwining their very distinct poetic vocabularies and intelligences. What results is a collaborative treatise on the metaphysics of creativity, the physics of the compositional page, the philosophy and ethics of form, the ontology of ghosts and gods, and the future of the mythographic imagination. But this is just scratching the surface.