Abigail Child

1994 • 72 pp. • $10
ISBN: 9781882022212

Purchase from Small Press Distribution

The trajectory of Abigail Child’s book Mob is as vast and populated as the Weegee photo on the cover, “Coney Island, 28th of July, 1940, 4’clock in the afternoon,” filled with bathers staring into the sun/camera/East expectantly. Sexy, violent, driving, Mob exists persistently in an exploding landscape. Not afraid of saying so, Child insists upon offering a social and political critique in which she even shows glimpses of herself being duped. In the powerful pivotal piece, “Civilian Liberties,” composed in prose blocks sandwiched between brief sign posts, ways in and ways out, coded trailers and postscripts, Child aphoristic, loud, and crashing asserts: “To think/in the ‘land of the free’ insures displacement” [67]. Throughout Mob’s long serial pieces, Child is forging innovative structures and sites for registering the vast dimensions and shifts of her explorations of diverse objects of reserch, from soft, damp places to gasping crossroads. With a nagging shadow of an absent linchpin, pressing outward, there is an urgency, an immediacy to these observations by Child, the keen, erotic theoritician who relentlessly poses questions: “HOW TO TRANSLATE WHAT CANNOT CLOSE” [77]. Both rhetorically and structurally Child is exploring in a highly taught thread-work the reaches of fiction and poetry, a constant pushing and playing with the so-called givens and expectations of genre. And there is more. An active feminist project is woven deeply into the movements and grounded into the articulations of Mob, most overtly in the simmering piece entitled “Beyond Surplus” where Child is enacting and creating innovative metaphors and idioms for female sexuality, outlining a framework for a feminine aesthetic. “BETWEEN MY THIGHS/YOUR MOUTH IMPROVISING” [76] Child, through the various compositions and range of materials in Mob, demonstrates how the site of writing offers the possibility for social and cultural transformation and subversive thought.
–Jocelyn Saidenberg

With sure grace Abigail Child explores the hurting corners of our vicious world and the tender places on our bodies. Her new book is a fiery J’accuse against a war-fueled, heterosexist Uberhaus that flaunts “the privelege of a window ignoring its cost.” She has always been a provocative poet and thinker, but now she writes her twin obsessions into transparence. Between the words vast flamethrowers aimed by angels singe and give off steam.
–Kevin Killian

Abigail Child’s Mob is sexy and scary. Like her films, these poems use thrilling formal strategies, kinetically tracing, tracking, and dancing the mind of the body to challenge the social distopia with eros. The eros of these poems is gorgeously articulated and deeply feminist in its manner of exploring the boundaries and sometimes lack of boundaries between feminine sexual joy and the violence and power blockages of social decay.
–Carla Harryman

Mob: Let those without skin cast the first rip-up. Sentences ticking, syllable detonators to choke the bully because readers can foam common sense just dispersed as lacandone dwelling. Scatsung subtleties & colossalized jumpstarts…kick back the covers. No shun fun, A-line molecules. The elusive revs up story as loinwards’ exemptive trigger better than staccato. Lips bolt the ballot licking the surplus. Only the impossible is intimate enough. X Y Z book ends between plural.
–Bruce Andrew


Abigail Child is a filmmaker, poet, and writer who has been active in experimental writing and media since the 1970s. She has completed more than thirty film and video works and installations, and six books. An acknowledged pioneer in montage, Child’s early film work addressed the interplay between sound and image through reshaping narrative tropes, prefiguring many concerns of contemporary film and media.


Upset plank fortified ousting
rowdy cock surrenders bludgeon
scarred modest kisses
face limit, fumble
in wracked clog
of jubilant status
Fright chills title
immortalizes habit
arc of the outlaw
A build-up at dawn
encounters no mercy
thumb oppositions
–no radical
–no safety

At this moment the evidence of kisses behind her
assured quietly that stretch of russet in the exhausting flats
was not expectation turned round to gaze at its own light
but a future without hyperbole, without suffix
with hesitations
the sky is drunk with
The center in front of the future
before embarrassment
reads borrowed warmth
no less for that

Even the smokers pause between bites
disdain their gates
beardless in chronic screaming
will swarm your head
Fully automatic
just dropped, in all or some of today’s too
short, who on hype
might seem appointed
A closed-circuit television
during the rally
tries to end the parties’ play by play
unsanctioned on transfer
Brought to you by
the ideologically neutral
which include every man’s
numb hands
To pay nothing
for the co-location in gradient tints
jeopardizing the correction
And plausibility of navigation’s explosion
in piecemeal to perform
protrudes from categories
programmatically excluded
inverts this clich_
of something forever