Introduction for Brenda Coultas

While at a flea market or on a city street, a thing might stick to your eye. Perhaps its memory makes you lonely. How do you “open” this interest, like the “old purse”? Coultas’ “tatters” in the raw accumulate like an aged clump of receipts inside a family’s home. The scope of all the histories one might carry around with them emerge while looking at the future of a melting glacier, a fracked piece of land. The sold sign is jabbed into the front lawn of the house of nature. What is unsolved, what elemental fires burn for a narrator on this earth, or as Brenda Coultas calls it, the “eyeball of the galaxy,” where a detail, never too ordinary or layered in someone’s else’s code of garbage, is ever too small. Coultas collates the tatters through concerns: “Who holds the crystal clear machine guns?”

Is the answer really in how alert the eyeballs are for possibility in what you pass on the street? Or the infinite site of a person with stories when they spread out into a family with histories. It’s about the rigor of rewriting a route or expectation in the process. For example, Coultas enacts the desire “to write an elegy but without the sadness.” This is writing to and for her friend Brad Will who was a part of many communities of activists all over the world.

As Coultas is poised to atomize clutter and absence into meaning, she proposes ways of keeping the dead with us. At times this manifests as a real sense of reduction or testing how much one detail can hold in unexpected places, such as those “plush teddy bears strapped to the grills of garbage trucks.”