Harnessing street protest as a poetic formation, Villainy exhibits the desires that bring queers into public space.
Andrea Abi-Karam answers the call to action for poetry itself to become the radical accomplice it was destined to be in their second book, Villainy. In order to live through the grief of the Ghostship Fire & the Muslim Ban, Villainy foments political action in public spaces, and indexes the various emotional states, such as rage, revelry, fear, grief, and desire to which queers must tend during protest. In scenes loaded with glitter, broken glass, and cum, Abi-Karam insists that in order to shatter the rising influence of new fascism we must embrace the collective work of antifascists, street medics, and queer exhibitionists and that the safety that we risk is reckless and necessary. Disruptive and demanding, these punk poems embody direct action and invite the audience into the desire-filled slippage between public sex and demonstration. At heart, Villainy aims to destroy all levels of hierarchy to establish a participatory, temporary autonomous zone in which the targeted other can thrive.
"In an industry that encourages the toothless, Andrea Abi-Karam’s propulsive Villainy calls: 'give the poem teeth.' In an industry that incants, this book incites, revealing the revolutionary potential of desire, of determined disfiguration, of poetry itself, which, in Abi-Karam’s hands and ways becomes, as the street, a site of unbounded action. Here is a poetry that demolishes poetry. A fire to our fascist order. A book fully alive."—Solmaz Sharif
"Andrea I like your experience. Thanks thanks thanks for this frank obtuse poetix, this wriggling book. Its wisdom is when I think I’ve summed it up it’s something else - action and spatial, flat versatile wily & interior maybe even yeah poetic in that way only prose can be but CAPS-STRONG, manifesting today. Oh and here’s my favorite line: resist the present approach impurity. Yessss!"—Eileen Myles
“'If we are to start again,' White says, 'renewed or better', Villainy insists, we’ll first suffer the pain of radical un-making. Willingness to suffer such pains, in, for example, the desire to be ‘flat’ (which would hurt) constitutes villainy while the world belongs to ‘1. CAPITALISM 2. THE STATE 3. COLONIALISM 4. NAZIS 5. RACISM 6. OPPRESSION.’ This is a text that performs the awful compression – squeezing – of our capacities collectively to deal with reckless disrespect for life not just under this government. This book is fire. But not to burn-it-down. To light my way to a friend.”—Simone White
"In these incisive poems, Andrea Abi-Karam engages with both language and the body as sites of becoming and unbecoming, as gateways through which to summon infinite possibilities. VILLAINY asks how language can be an ‘accomplice to radical action,’ and then—in this work sharp as glass shattering, hallowed as a body shaped into a home for one’s dead—answers."—Zeyn Joukhadar
"Infused throughout Villainy is a frenetic playfulness, a 'TRANSFUSION OF GLAM,' and a celebration of all things punk, sexy, dirty, risky, villainous. Abi-Karam’s use of all capitals tattoos onto their poems a set of teeth, which, coupled with the baseline-beating anaphora, gives this collection a heady directness and evokes the energy and rhythm of a street protest."—Jay G. Ying, Harriet Books
"Abi-Karam’s Villainy is a dizzyingly captivating work of anarchist poetics, seamlessly weaving the blunt language of the Anarchist Manifesto with a deeply vulnerable and inviting syntax. While this book places American imperial violence in its crosshairs, it is first and foremost a document of grief, both personal and collective."—Hazem Fahmy, LARB
"Abi-Karam writes with a revolutionary energy that invites the reader to rethink how a poem sounds, and what it can do on the page and beyond."—Publishers Weekly
"At the heart of Abi-Karam’s Villainy is an impulse to keep us alive to the world and to language in a way that is necessary to activism."—Amanda Auerbach, EcoTheo
"Many of the poems in VILLAINY are set in the radical queer spaces that Abi-Karam inhabits; they lean into the eroticism and overwhelm, producing a viscerality that only poems can. Simultaneously, the book asks, but what else can the poem do?"—Summer Farrah, Vagabond City
"I hope this book finds its way into the hands of those queer lives who need healing, whose hearts need the warm of Andrea’s spitfire text. These poems wrestle with the world, its violence and fleeting joy, and invites us to confront these truths, comforts, and peace, in ourselves."—Nicholas Goodly, Wussy