C. Bain is a gender liminal writer, performer, and artist. His work focuses on interstices of sex and violence, the queer body subjected to the extraction of knowledge. He started out in poetry slams in the late ’90s, then transitioned to experimental theater-making, and more recently makes sculptures and videos. His plays have been presented at NYC venues, including the Tank and Dixon Place. He apprenticed at Ugly Duckling Presse, and participated in the first Center for Book Arts creative publishing seminar. He has a social work degree from Hunter College and an art MFA from CalArts. A Lambda Literary fellow, his first book, Debridement, was a finalist for the Publishing Triangle Awards.
Publication Date: September 26, 2023
Sex Augury is a collection of radical, trans poems which practice divination with the symbolism of our changed and changeable world.
Sex Augury is a collection that practices divination with the symbolism of our radically changed and changeable world. Exercising trans poetics, C. Bain denormalizes the violence embedded in the most intimate strata of American life. Confrontationally queer, urgently wounded, deeply political, and metaphysically transported, these poems create their own system of meaning in an environment that is increasingly hostile to meaning of any kind. This collection spans digital culture, gender reversals, and archetypal-mythic vocabularies, alongside close observation of the surround of “ordinary” urban existence. Sex Augury is a work of dyads, not binaries—concepts bound together which nonetheless refuse to form a coherent, harmonious whole; humor and despair, tenderness and brutality, desire and revulsion. These poems bristle with intelligence, acuity of feeling, and refusal to gloss the complexity of our moment into a false narrative of progress.
“C Bain’s highly anticipated second collection, Sex Augury, courts an honest darkness and charts new mythologies out of the old with a quality of attention unique to the rich particulars of this poet’s gaze. The book asks the reader to look and to look and to not look away. The poems in Sex Augury articulate a brutal investigation of the self, of the inherited violences of gender, language, whiteness, and medicalization—the erotic, the cruel, and the divine braid and unbraid as the speaker moves us through his world.”
“Sex Augury stirs an acid cauldron of documentary poetics, political theater, and Surrealist wound-scape sprinkled with the salt of Lautreamont, Bataille, Nin, Carrington, Plath. Setting flame to “the buckling wall between myself and myself,” Bain leads us through an underworld of our own making, where pleasure and war are a tv channel apart, where the heart eats you alive, where “they bombed a restaurant / we bombed a hospital,” where desire courts death, and rape scars each face. The circles of this hell are forged in the fires of sexual violence, yet they ring out in yearning. In a voice akin to Medea’s, the poet asks how to “live with the violences I’ve chosen,” how to love when “every tool of love / is a weapon too”? The answer glimmers in the ecstatic gaze, in the poems’ intimate knowledge of its suffering bodies which bind us page after page to visceral metamorphoses in close-up—“my mouth on her rough incisors / against the reptile crevice / where an ear begins to bloom.”
—Matvei Yankelevich, author of Dead of Winter