Almost every time a new book is released it’s declared to be: one of a kind, a new voice, a generational lifetime achievement. I’m aware that these claims are subjective (and often motivated by marketing), so I’m not saying this lightly when I declare enthusiastically, unequivocally that this book is all those things. Including, first and foremost: a once in a lifetime book that speaks to a generation. In this case, a generation that hasn’t happened yet.
The Cyborg Anthology is set in a hypothetical future, one where a solar flare has wiped out all Robot and most Cyborg life. This ‘anthology’, written by the singular talented human Lindsay B-E, chronicles the history of the Cyborg poetics movement and the lives of the poets themselves. The Cyborg Anthology showcases how poetic movements are formed – through personal as political by people with a need and drive to express and vocalise, through poetry found and formed and rebuilt.
you are who you are– ‘behind that that’ – Hazel Hush (p17)
the outside breaking in
Spanning political and pop culture poetry, this book explores the histories and fame of Cyborg poets like Andre.riga and Tommy the Witch. Each poet’s voice is unique and compelling, to the point where the fictionality of this nonfiction is something I begin to care less and less about. It’s not that I’ve bought into the world building like a true sci-fi fanboi. No, nothing so minor: this historical moment in time has become absolutely real for me. The time-space of Cyborg poetics is so close to our current climate and weaved so incredibly convincingly, that I begin to absolutely believe it without hesitation.
The world has a hierarchy.– ‘Repress Address’ – Theseus (p25)
We’re near the bottom,
I find myself invested in the lives of these poets, idly picking up my phone to search for their books before remembering I’m living in 2020 and not post-flare 2202. And yes, I absolutely cry when I reach the end of the book – the knowledge that so many of these poets died in a cataclysmic event is, despite its fiction, close to my heart.
not in the things themselves– ‘The Sun Hits’ – Mi’la Lalpetit (p85)
but in their shadows
not in the shadows themselves
but in what they’re concealing
Because through the Cyborgs’ fight for personhood and liberation, I see a mirror of our current fight for human rights and climate preservation. The Cyborg poetic evolution maps a current reality: one where so many folks are urgently seeking equality in a world of structural inequality. Cyborg bodies are debated, questioned and discriminated against, their sentience and classification challenged. So as a non-binary transgender poet with a tattooed, pierced, post-surgery, chronic pain body; it’s an easy leap for me to ascribe the equality-seeking body-modified Cyborg poets as my potential future kin.
Water the seeds, water the seeds with memory.– Ahmed al-Tahir (p89)
We will sprout again.
To relate to a book is one thing but what really makes a book like The Cyborg Anthology stand out is its ability to affect change in its readers. To read this book is to reflect on how history repeats itself through the discrimination of marginalised people, their lives and their bodies. The Cyborg Anthology reflects on the hope we could/(should) have for our future: the one we make and create ourselves through artistic resistance, the future we write ourselves into.
I write– ‘The Red Cyborg’ – Sydney School of Robotics (p31)
Because I (am) matter.
About the author
Lindsay B-e is a writer and filmmaker from Clavet, SK currently living in Toronto. They have a BA in English, a BFA in Filmmaking, a Certificate in Poetry from The Writer’s Studio at SFU, and are completing a Novel-Writing Certificate from U of T Continuing Studies. Their writing has appeared in Poetry Is Dead, the League of Canadian Poets’ Poetry Pause, Geez Magazine, Peach Mag, emerge: The Writer’s Studio Anthology, and a chapbook from bird, buried press. Lindsay is married with two kids, two dogs, and two cats. They can be found online at biseenscene.com.
About the reviewer
Rae White is the founding editor of #EnbyLife and author of the poetry collection Milk Teeth (University of Queensland Press), which won 2017 Arts Queensland Thomas Shapcott Poetry Prize and was shortlisted for 2019 Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards. Their poetry has been published in Australian Poetry Journal, Cordite Poetry Review, Meanjin Quarterly, Overland, Rabbit and others.