Introduction For Dodie Bellamy by Stephen Boyer

Dodie Bellamy came into my life at a critical time, I was straddling the worlds of university and night life, a day job and porn, yet still broke, barely surviving, depressed, and full of dreams. My advisor at USF, the poet D.A. Powell, knew I was miserable and after reading my work suggested I meet Dodie and apply to the weekly, private workshop she offered as a way of getting out of the trappings of the institution and enter the queer San Francisco I ran away, seeking. At the time, I wanted to be making art and writing but it seemed impossible to go from notes to actualized work, everyone seemed so cool and connected and then I met Dodie who showed me the shit covering all the “cool people’s” faces as she refocused my energies on craft, form, politics, experimentation, and most importantly–continually demonstrated the strength necessary to remain yourself in this apocalyptic world.

Dodie’s expansive energy intimidated me at first, not only was she fully aware of the world I was to inherent but she already had strong convictions about everyone involved and her own place within New Narrative. Dodie’s expansiveness far surpasses her ability to be so within a text as she continually fucks with form, publishing books, prose, zines, poetry, essays, artist statements and work in galleries. It seems Dodie has done it and critiqued it all. As weeks blurred into months and then years I began to understand Dodie as the mentor figure I never realized I desired. She had this way of filling my head with inspiration and courage as she sipped tea and talked circles around my work. Two years into our friendship, Dodie looked at me after I read a piece I workshopped and asked if she could send it to an anthology for publication: the piece I brought was a visceral account of taking a shit in a bathroom stall and somehow experiencing transcendence. After all, Dodie continually lets barf and shit seep into her work. Dodie never shy’s away on the page…

During Dodie’s visit to New York in April, we had dinner and Dodie told me about her experience at an academic conference when a fellow teased her for being “too Midwestern.” Dodie explained–yes she grew up in Indiana but didn’t feel like that was an appropriate way to describe her these days. She’s lived in San Francisco since the 80s and has become its alt queen of literature. When I read TV Sutras I again saw the tease, this time in print — “too Midwestern” and realized this description and moreso this reoccurring moment highlighted my love for Dodie as both an artist and a fellow human. I see Dodie as a master of craft and form and yet she’s constantly subjugated to bullshit and continually manages to fight through it as she weaves it into her written tapestries.

Within Dodie’s ever expanding lyricism, and I feel like she hates that word and her work really isn’t traditionally lyrical, but when she reads, it’s music to me, and in this trance like state she induces, I often find she illuminates aspects of figures most would consider radical and on the edges of culture and shows how they’re maintaining their own community. Yet they’re selling out or rather doing that which they’re claiming to be in opposition. Dodie finds the bullshit and castrates it. For me, TV Sutra’s underscores Dodie Bellamy as the guru of the margins, she’s been there awhile but now she’s quietly come out with it. And with this, Dodie points out how freaks can perpetuate the same bullshit behavior’s we thought we were escaping when we ran away from the status quo. Works like Academonia blast open institutional power dynamics and further the range of American prose. In Cunt Ups and Cunt Norton, Dodie displays her ability to sift through information and text and extract and reform with surgeon like precision a new plane of existence, one which mocks patriarchy and established forms. In The Buddhist she delves into the depths of human desire and ends the horror in Kevin’s arms–outstretched–ready to love her. Every eccentric needs a Kevin…. “So, he says,” in TV Sutras, “is this about the banality of the new age?!” —TV Sutra’s mocks the idea of a Guru and yet she’s my guru–fully empowered as a seer, an artist and a visionary. She says in TV Sutra’s, “My novel The Letters of Mina Harker began as a cult document, but ultimately traces a rebellion against doctrine. It is the text of a body at war. When I was a child I was taught I was ugly, too ugly to ever be loved, and I’m still trying to figure out what to do about that, still trying to figure out how to kill off the abused girl I carry around inside of me, how to load her on a bus and crash it, and out of the gasoline flames arise as a new self born of wisdom and love.”