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A/An, a chapbook by Mandy Gutmann-Gonzalez

Mandy Gutmann-Gonzalez, a Chilean poet, novelist, translator, and text-based artist, is the author of the novel La Pava (Ediciones Inubicalistas). They teach creative writing at Clark University.

Paperback, printed and bound by Coach House Press on 70 lb Sephyr Laid paper, typeset in Sabon, 12 pt.

ISBN 978-1-7381784-1-4
Using 17th-century court records of the Salem Witch Trials as a sounding board, A/An mines the archives to uncover the power and violence residing within the language of the legal system. As state-legislated violence, witch hunts were constitutive to the colonial order, reinforcing what was normal and what aberrant. Rather than regarding the witch hunts as historical curiosity or speculating to fill the gaps, A/An considers the court examination as poetic form, a hybrid of legal language and lyric utterance. In these poems, English becomes foreign to itself, having distorted through time and slipped through the sieve of law, through the inevitable erasures of matter and the ideological erasures of the archive: the gaps marked “[illegible due to fold in paper],” and the silences that remain unmarked. In a poetics of the “[…]”, A/An engages with textual gaps as lacunae. In A/An, poetry and archive wrestle, shattering these legal documents that act as gravestones and spilling the voices caught therein.

Praise for A/An:

“Archival and speculative, Mandy Gutmann-Gonzalez’s A/An is a revisioning of the Salem Witch Trials into a portfolio of court ephemera, converging them thematically despite and through its divergent forms. It’s precisely what we haven’t escaped of the Trials that blooms here: the spectacle of adjudication, the self-righteousness of the law and legibility, coloniality’s self-exception. Sovereignty is haunted: an invisable hande pushes us forthe. Gutmann-Gonzalez deftly summons the past and present’s continuity through this possible lyric alternative. A/An is a distillation, a reduction, a tincture of the ever-renewable past. Handle cautiously--this is yr book.”

Jos Charles, author of feeld, a Year & other poems, and Safe Space