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Sianne Ngai
Discredit

1997
poems, 32 pages, letterpress, 2 colors
ISBN 1-886224-26-9 signed, $20


The logics of ownership and possession are used in the world not only to authorize my bank account and rental agreement, but my authority to speak or write. (It is said that the mad have "lost possession" of themselves). This is what the poem disavows and resists. Hence "discredit:" lack of credit in the financial sense, and lack of credibility, authorial authority, the "personal voice." Also loss of reputation, disgrace. Doubt. The refusal to accept something as true or accurate. To cause disbelief in the authority of something.

Ngai's first full-length book, Criteria, was published by O-Books in 1998.


"This fluidity [between internal and external] is enacted through an outward projection of interiority, as well as by a constantly shifting sense of perspective.... This focus on perspectives is an aesthetic preoccupation with the interactions between language and world...

The tautology embedded in much postmodern poetry is that representation represents representation. While Discredit poetically analyzes this dictum, Ngai's decision to frame this concern within a larger one of the self's relationship to the world moves her writing out of the realm of self-reflexive linguistic exeiricse. Her book interrogates the schism between subjects and objects, and seeks to make the subject as much a determiner of language as determined by it. The result is engaging and rewarding."

--Alan Gilbert, Poetry Project Newsletter