“Experimental Discourse” Feature: Shawn Anto’s “Lessons on Constancy”

Shawn Anto

Approaching experimental writing, it requires a dash of redundancy and ambiguity rather than taking it from a formulaic approach. You write what you dare yourself not to write about. It’s indeterminant in a sense that it’s raw and it isn’t holding back. There are abstract ideas flowing between the effable and reliable, its discourse delivers a fresh new experience into the subject matter that’s being unraveled. Experimental discourse provides a conversation between what is expected and the wonder of an unknown journey – bridging the gap of conventional/traditional and anything new and fresh.

I started working on this piece after my hike in Morro Bay. The trail I hiked is located in the Cerro Cabrillo area. It is one of the highest peaks in Morro Bay and it is among one of the Nine Sisters, a chain of volcanic mountains/hills in San Luis Obispo. It was quite a cathartic experience. Also, it felt really weird and exciting in this walkabout because I was surprised there was absolutely no one on this trail. I wanted to approach this piece like a rant – uncoerced and honestly just letting it out.  I wanted to build a gap between my own reality experience and what it felt like spiritually, a lesson on energy output.

As of now, it is Kaveh Akbar. His debut collection Calling A Wolf A Wolf is multilayered and it deserves several readings. A poem that still remains embedded in my mind is ‘Ways to Harm a Thing’. This poem circulates a pattern of harm, but focuses onto admittance – the past and the memories you force yourself to lock away. His writing navigates his reader to these questions and find their own portal and space for spirituality. It’s a fundamental piece of work that remains in the ether of my life and can remain in the ether of anyone who chooses to read it. He experiments with form and wonder, he bridges a gap of conventional forms and styles of poetry and offers a new approach. He creates a world around his words and invites the reader into this new landscape. It works so effortlessly, there is wonder and flow.

Lessons on Constancy

“Ocean Energy #4” by Gene Kreyd

One: I disinfect bone with this page—I address these memories mental circuits of the past & the present is
silver—lined with you, here we are, perpetual moment so present that you open me carve up, carve
insides                              out.
Two: we are no longer astonished by the hills, each hike embraces like 9 sisters or by lava
rocking underneath skin & I’m not bound by time, but by you & I swear you roll your sticky idea into my
blood, drip like glue and seal yourself in this tethering embrace, effortlessly you and I
are in hell with its linearity, scribbled out like our worst                        secrets.
Three: take heart—tear it out, no regret ripples thoughts, do not neglect any tempered word from dry lips,
no matter how erratic one word must be & how you will never see my side & I will
always hear the crying bats, whimper their way to darkness through all the places we’ve been located
through sonic wince/whine of your love, all the sorrows we’ve seared in our—
Four:  we still answer each other’s calls, texts, spent half-years wandering & disappearing so effortlessly,
scouring a world & I never ask why you need me but you do & no matter how far I
am from you each echo ping itself through veins, static veins creating & bleeding, bleeds,
it bleeds, rippling downpour through time.
Five: every history is a buzzing wasp inside the brain & I muster up the courage to tell you that you’re so
comfortable building up walls, crackling with cement & red like brick dusty blood on
your heart shed, come crawl & knock-knock, didn’t expect anyone to climb over & surprise—
Six: this—this feeling—what is it? Revealing cannot be so easy to guess, quantified over a
thought or two, broken down scientifically, how does one pray to slippery God, your presence unrequited
& rumbling & I give—without any                     obligation.
Seven: You don’t owe me anything.
Eight: I’m sorry for silent gathering.
Nine: You said that wall was for a reason, a high-stone reckoning.
Ten: why the hell did you go and break through? I know it’s real, the wound is tender still, the
rules grip & it hurts too damn much to be anything else but this constant—remaining breath.


About the writer:
Shawn Anto is originally from Kerala, India. He studies at Cal State Bakersfield looking to receive his B.A. in both English & Theatre. He intends to pursue an MFA in Creative Writing and then go into teaching. His acting credits include The Profane, “Gasoline”, Suburbia, and Dreamers: Aquí y Allá. He is a Chelsea FC supporter. When he is not binging shows or watching independent films, he loves going on day-hikes and mountain biking. His writing has been featured or is forthcoming in The Paragon Press, Edify Fiction, Susan/The Journal, Internet Void, Ink & Voices, Mojave Heart Review, and Neon Mariposa Magazine.

Image: Ocean Energy #4” by Gene Kreyd. Mixed media on canvas. 70 x 70 cm. 2017. By permission. Gene Kreyd is a Russian-born California artist. He is well-known internationally for his clothing design, films, music, and photography; however, his primary interest is and has always been painting abstract art. Kreyd exhibits across the world, and his paintings are in public and private collections in Europe, Russia, the Americas, Australia, New Zealand and Asia. Kreyd is the O:JA&L Featured Artist for April 2019.