Today’s Fall Poetry Preview features She Who Lies Above by Beatriz Hausner!
In She Who Lies Above, Beatriz Hausner brings Hypatia of Alexandria, the fourth-century Byzantine mathematician, astronomer, and philosopher, to life. She does so through layered ventriloquism: publishing amorous correspondence from the feminist icon’s friend and former student, Synesius of Cyrene, and scribing Hypatia’s replies in turn.
These letters are “discovered” by Bettina Ungaro, a librarian and archivist by day and poet by night. She, in turn, collates the correspondence to build a vision of the couple’s relationship while writing a kind of postmodern critique of contemporary book and reading culture. These interjections both borrow from and juxtapose writing from ancient times and, in doing so, explore the evolution of modern knowledge keeping.
The result is a rigorous, hyper-layered collection of poems that are elegiac and erotic; steeped in appreciation for a life of books and the technical and transcendent brilliance their authors can exhibit.
“Utterly unique, She Who Lies Above blends and transmutes erudition and invention, image and eros, allusion and alchemy to unveil marvels on every page; to read it is to be ensorcelled,” writes Peter Dubé, author of The Headless Man.
We’re happy to share an introduction from Beatriz Hausner!
In addition, we’ve selected an excerpt to share with you today. She Who Lies Above will be released on November 7, 2023, and is available for pre-order from our online shop or from your local independent bookstore.
Here is Hypatia’s heart. I found it in the long refectory building on Rue des Ursulines at Trois Rivières. A city not unlike Alexandria, on the shores of flowing waters the colour of sand and summer. Hypatia, she of Synesius, student, lover and master of the voice of the one who lasts; Hypatia, trained to persist unflinchingly on top, hovering while observing, and also underneath, often suppliant while partaking thoughts, receiving pleasure, enduring pain, becoming transformed in the manner of the daughters of Isis and gathering the parts of the world destroyed by those who came before her, only to be broken again by those who will come after. Hypatia exists outside of time’s delight and time’s suffering, the two knotting themselves in her sex ascending to her womb to be gestated according to schedules made, unmade, and made again by the hands of The Invisible One, who ordered that she be found at this New Alexandria of the mind.
These fragments I present here with and in my own words, in order that their mystery be examined by women and men finally become classifiers, making functional their taxonomies in ways that please and disgust, at once and constantly: The Work is made and unmade and made again by the hands of the Terrible-Worker-Within who ordered that Hypatia be found by me, and I be found by Hypatia.
Beatriz Hausner was born in Chile and immigrated to Canada with her family when she was a teenager. She has published many poetry books, including The Wardrobe Mistress (2004), Sew Him Up (2010), Enter the Raccoon (2012), and Beloved Revolutionary Sweetheart (2020). Her prose and poetry have been published in many chapbooks and included in several anthologies, and her books have been published internationally and translated into several languages, including her native Spanish, French, Dutch, and Greek. She is an active participant in the international surrealist movement, and a respected historian and translator of Latin American surrealism. Hausner, who is trilingual, served three terms as President of the Literary Translators’ Association of Canada and was Chair of the Public Lending Right Commission. She was also a founding publisher of Quattro Books. Hausner lives in Toronto where she publishes The Philosophical Egg.