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DAUGHTER ISOTOPE

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Daughter Isotope is a book of “hybrid” poems that speaks to multiple iterations of “daughter” tropes across generations, national borders, and timescales. Central to the question of the Daughter Isotopeis: What is a collective archive?within a global, disparate, migrant cultural space. DI is organized in a series of four “clouds,” calling up the vague, penetrable borders of our digital lives, both searching and searchable.

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Vidhu Aggarwal

Vidhu Aggarwal’s poetry and multimedia practices engage with world-building, video, and graphic media, drawing mythic schemas from popular culture, science, and ancient texts. Her poetry book, The Trouble with Humpadori (2016), imagines a cosmic mythological space for marginalized transnational subjects. Avatara, a chapbook from Portable @Yo-Yo Labs Press, is situated in a post-apocalyptic gaming world where A.I.’s play at being gods. She has published in the Boston Review, Black Warrior Review, Aster(ix) Journal, Poemelon, and Leonardo, among other journals. She is currently engaging in a “cloud poetics,” as a way of thinking about personal, collective, and digital archives as a collaborate process with comic artists, dancers, and video artists. A Djerassi resident and Kundiman fellow, she teaches at Rollins College.

The book completes what, in life, was incomplete: a father-daughter collaboration, the "glowing-seething archive" of energies as yet unconsolidated, yet unleashed. Vidhu Aggarwal's DAUGHTER ISOTOPE is contra-fate, written with "silt and fronds," traveling alongside the ovule-corpse, the otherbody of what in global English might be called a Goddess but here is closer to an act of adoration, a "sumptuary pulse." Hanuman dilates then contracts, boson to supernova, and here in the Kill Room, "subjects" are "seeking their bodies." The Mahabarat: an epic never intended to be read aloud in a consecutive sequence, or time, or by one person. For this reason, Aggarwal's collection, which edges beyond literature into "feverish, makeshift" codes and indices, the "combustive interior" habitat of a massive and multiple online persona, was exhilarating to read."

Bhanu Kapil

Vidhu Aggarwal’s explosive Daughter Isotope radioactivates form, not in the surface threat of animating the formal contingencies, say of Modernisms, but in how it complicates ancient sentience through A.I. subjectivities, where fate and circumstance pulsate—human, machine, body, mine—a “catalogue [of] metabolic functions,” with its “nose against the dank,” as dangerous as the lowest levels of The Matrix, where Aggarwal’s own robotic probes hunt, leaving a memory cloud as familiarly human as “…forever smelling of grease and ketchup,” but also “...rejiggered into a ghost-ship-carnival-cruise[…]giga girdle.” Aggarwal ingeniously composes a complex neo-eco-system of metal, sign, myth, and legend, where poetry divinely serves as interlocutor where its “spine winds into an infinity loop.” Here, deft multi-modal experiments exact mechanisms of decomposition, as much as reconstitution always “on hallucinogenic speed dial,”— “across disparate territories, partitions, climates—.” Daughter Isotope enacts a brilliantly expert visual, sonic and tactile interior fused to our current world, deployed in Aggarwal’s vivid neural-fields of language.

Ronaldo V. Wilson

At once atlas, instruction manual, encyclopedia, elegy and gurgling biodata stream, DAUGHTER ISOTOPE bursts and overwhelms with its lava lamp hallucinations and specters, its otherworldly creatures whose divinities are marred but enriched with gunk, spillage, overflow. Vidhu’s work is drawn from Hindu cosmology and mythos, pop culture, and a sense of unstoppable hurtling into an eternal net of tangled futures but at the same time is tied to a deep specificity, kaleidoscopically recapitulating the galactic at the scale of the diasporic family, collecting and distilling vast essences at the scale of an Indian-American household. The language(s) in DAUGHTER ISOTOPE rush around you with a seemingly inevitable sense of speed and oiliness, of velocity and viscosity. The multiplicity of voices, the choruses that wail like futurist qawwali within this collection, map out a sonic and textual cartography-tapestry of both cosmic and intimate proportions – a multiplicity which erupts within a single piece but also crackles between each of the poems. A volume of delicious excess, a dizzying variety of textures, sounds, wounds and caresses that simultaneously charm and blind, all sparkling like mirrorwork on an infinite, 22nd century celestial kurta.

Bishakh Som, author of graphic novel, SPELLBOUND, and graphic story collection APSARA ENGINE

Vidhu Aggarwal’s DAUGHTER ISOTOPE chants squishy myth vortexes to recode your bodymind. Give yourself to decay and renewal. Play with ‘sacred raging atoms.’ DAUGHTER ISOTOPE is a high-energy mélange of the holy and the profane, visual and visceral. Aggarwal drives a cloud-computing daughter into careening slingshots around gods to launch into digital dis/re/embodiment. Fragments come back as lights of a disco ball that becomes a head, or as a cow that speaks. All translate bio-function into digital data and back again, where the ‘atlas spurts out of my belly and breath.’ Aggarwal’s language soars and sparks, and my gut vibrates in futuristic sympathy when I read of ‘fine-scale filamentous heterogeneities/hosed through the eruptive stoma/of the melt generation’.

Petra Kuppers

Description

Daughter Isotope is a book of “hybrid” poems that speaks to multiple iterations of “daughter” tropes across generations, national borders, and timescales. Central to the question of the Daughter Isotope is: What is a collective archive? within a global, disparate, migrant cultural space. DI is organized in a series of four “clouds,” calling up the vague, penetrable borders of our digital lives, both searching and searchable.

Throughout the manuscript, the poems operate as types of search engines that test the boundaries of often overlapping archives or “clouds” that make up diasporic experience. Starting with a series of poems based on the Mahabharata, an “encyclopedic” Sanskrit epic-cloud about an apocalyptic war composed over centuries, the organization of the manuscript is based off of South Asian polyvocal storytelling traditions. Like Donna Haraway’s cyborg, a “daughter” gender could be seen as any “child” or subject under a rigid paternal order — whether Hindu nationalism or U.S. exceptionalism — whose filiation is in question. Dispersed through the manuscript are multiple versions/clouds of Draupadi, Emily Dickinson, Judy Garland, Krishna, Michael Jackson, and the aspirational figure of @agirl, among others uncertain “daughters.” Poems interrogate the stability of various “daughter” genders through myth, online personas, computer gaming, nuclear physics, and artificial intelligence.

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