Unanimal, Counterfeit, Scurrilous

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Unanimal; Counterfeit; Scurrilous is a work of wild erudition and rococo elaboration; a collection of poems that loosely channels the dynamic of desire and inhibition in Thomas Mann’s novella Death in Venice. The poems follow the trajectory of the ageing Aschenbach’s pursuit of youth and beauty; transmuting his yearning and resistance into jittery flirtations with longing; decay and abandonment against a backdrop of political violence. The poems have an exuberant candour; formed by polyphonic allusions which enact the intersectionality of the speaker; by turns melodramatic and satirical. Like the tragic protagonist of Death in Venice; Cayanan’s collection manifests a longing for extroversion sabotaged by its own will. It is a queer performance of anxiety and abeyance; in which the poems’ speakers obsessively rehearse who they are; and what they may be if finally spoken to.