3 Questions with Creative/Critical PhD Student Madison McCartha

Madison McCartha Photo

Hi, my name is Madison (he/they), and I have two books of poetry coming out in the next 2 years. 

FREAKOPHONE WORLD (Inside the Castle) is forthcoming in August of 2021. My second book, THE CRYPTODRONE SEQUENCE, is forthcoming with Black Ocean in 2022. As far as the journal world is concerned, Denver Quarterly published one of my poems earlier this year; maybe some luck was involved; of course, the poem itself took months to write. Lastly, I guess I don’t promote this much, but over the summer the poet Asiya Wadud invited me to contribute to a public art project called Echo Exhibit, through the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, which is still on display (more info here). A strange move for me (public poetry), since my work feels so indebted to secrecy.

My debut book, FREAKOPHONE WORLD, for example, speaks as a kind of restless, encrypted “object of interactivity” (to borrow Lisa Nakamura’s language) that aims to problematize the power dynamics between art-object and viewer. The text itself is a pulpy, unstable book-length poem that incorporates painting and diagram, pointedly drawing attention to its surface. As a part of my dissertation work, I've been assembling (slowly) an Augmented Reality App to supplement the book, taking my cue in part from the collaborative, concrete poetry of Amaranth Borsuk & Brad Bouse; an admittedly labor-intensive 'digital coda' which, in some ways, lets me re-encounter myself as a visual artist.

(more on Lisa Nakamura in my ongoing essay series on Virtual Poetics, Blackness, and Assemblage at Action Blog)

Right now, given everything, I’m feeling a mix of gratitude and total exhaustion. It’s a strange time to learn to teach. Lately, however, I’ve been learning a lot (as a Teaching Assistant) from the undergraduate students in Ronaldo Wilson’s course, RAGE: Race and Performance.

Also moved right now by Anais Duplan's Blackspace: On the Poetics of an Afrofuture, Jack Halberstam's Wild Things: the disorder of desire, Jennifer Tamayo's You Da One, Legacy Russell's Glitch Feminism, Hito Steyerl's The Wretched of the Screen, and Wanda Coleman's essay, "Primal Orb Density."



3 Questions:

How would you describe your work in three words or phrases?

‘spookprism’, eyes crossed, ‘freakologic'


What is your favorite line from your work?  

“There’s no bigger world    //    than this sound”


Tell us 1) the most fragrant location (the fragrance can be lovely or putrid, of course) that you’ve ever had the chance to write in, 2) the noisiest site you’ve ever written in, and 3) the softest place you’ve ever written in (can be metaphorical or literal).

1) The bar at the downtown Milwaukee Hilton was almost always deserted when I got off work (as a long-term temp): an old building with a distinct funk.
2) There weren’t too many public places to be alone in Milwaukee, especially in the winter, so I used to write in a bar called Palomino in Bay View, Wisconsin, before meeting a close friend for drinks.
3) The basement lounge in the old student center at the University of Notre Dame, at 7 am, was completely serene.