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PoetrySnaps! Crisosto Apache: Kugha/Home

crisosto apache.jpg
Courtesy Crisosto Apache
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In this week’s segment of KNAU's series PoetrySnaps! we meet Colorado-based poet Crisosto Apache. Their latest book, Ghostword, was released just a few weeks ago. It’s a response to a manuscript written in 1927 by Japanese poet Ryūnosuke Akutagawa. He died by suicide from an overdose of Barbitol, and during the three hours it took him to perish, Akutagawa penned his final work; a 53-paragraph manuscript entitled A Fool’s Life.

Crisosto Apache was fascinated by the notion of writing something complex within a strict timeframe, and they responded by crafting Kugha/Home which they share with us today.

Crisosto Apache:

The challenge for me was if I was given three hours to write something, what would I write? I carried a carbon copy of that book for quite a while until I found the actual book because a lot of his work was out of print.

He wrote 53 entries. The entries are like a couple of paragraphs. I'm not sure if he was able to just write 53 entries before he died or if that was the goal. But there are 53 entries.

I sort of mimicked the 53 entries and tried to respond to all 53 within the three hours, but of course I failed. I had to try again, and after I tried a couple of times to do this in the three hours, I finally got a good number of the responses to each. And then that's when the revisions really started.

Some of the titles in this collection mimic the same titles as Akutagawa. Some of them are sort of like slight versions, or ideas. This one is called, Number 3: Kugha/Home:

In the outskirts in a room on the second floor he slept and woke. —Ryūnosuke Akutagawa, tr. by Will Petersen

my boyhood home became periphery because of its location

eight miles away from town, the house I grew up in now empty

burrows inside a thicket of forest left pockmarks on the hillside

inside the thicket remained an empty cask, a remnant of my thick body

which has now become the shape of a log of wood rot

—then, no one could hear

the arguments and screams, only the echoes that reverberated through

the tree limbs and leaned against my inner ear becoming part

of the silhouetted tree line

outside along a small embankment next to the empty house where I

used to lie sideways with my head nearest the ground —where I watched

the soldier beetles carelessly roam below the swaying parabola

of slumping sunflowers, where a clump of sod imprints a lasting smudge

I return to the vacant house occasionally to stand on the embankment

still imprinting in my facial skin, transfusing —then I think of the room

now my body, a rooted rotted waste of immersing follicles

against my hairline weaving the forgotten voices and somnolent soil

not forgetting the line which is my forest that forever becomes

—the outskirts of my home

About the poet:

Crisosto Apache is originally from New Mexico and is Mescalero Apache, Chiricahua Apache, and Diné. They hold an MFA from the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, and work as an Assistant Associate Professor of English and Associate Poetry Editor for The Offing Magazine. They also do advocacy work for the Native American LGBTQ+ / ‘two spirit’ identity. Crisosto Apache’s latest collection, Ghostword, was released in November by Gnashing Teeth Publishing.

About the host:

Steven Law is a poet, journalist and educator based in Page, Arizona. He is the author of a collection of poems called Polished.

About the music:

Original music by Flagstaff-based band Pilcrowe.

PoetrySnaps!

Steven Law is the co-producer of KNAU’s series PoetrySnaps! He is a poet, essayist, storyteller, and the author of Polished, a collection of poems about exploring the Colorado Plateau by foot and by raft. Steven is also a contributing writer for Panorama: the Journal of Intelligent Travel and The Lake Powell Chronicle. He has won numerous awards for his writing. Steven is the founder and producer of The Grand Circle Storytelling Festival. He is a Master of Sabaku Yoku meditation and lives in northern Arizona with his wife and two daughters.