Poems written by Cyborgs in the future - this collection melds sci-fi and poetry, human and machine.
The Cyborg Anthology takes place in a future where there was a thriving world of Robots and Cyborgs living peacefully beside Humans, but a disaster destroyed all Robot and most Cyborg life.
The book is organized like a typical anthology of literature, split into sections that include a biography of each poet and a sample of their poetry. It covers early Cyborg poetry, political, celebrity, and pop culture poets, and ends with the next generation of Cyborg poets.
The narrative takes place in the time after a cataclysmic event, and the collection wrestles with this loss. Through the lives of the poets, the book chronicles the history of personhood for technological beings, their struggle for liberation, and demonstrates different ways a person can be Cyborg. The poems and biographies together tell the story of a complex and enthralling world-to-come, exploring topics that are important in the future, and also urgent right now.
"With mordant wit and a playful satiric touch, these Cyborg poems showcase a dazzling range of poetic forms and ideas: imaginative and charmingly subversive. Move over Norton Anthology of Poetry, there's a new force in town, and they are a delight. " --Renée Sarojini Saklikar, author of Listening to the Bees and Children of Air India
"The premise of this collection alone is fabulous. The poems are potent and powerful. With echoes of Le Guin, Brunner and Monáe, Lindsay B-e's debut is layered and smart, provocative, and deeply satisfying. I was moved and fascinated. Speculative poetry at its best. " --Hiromi Goto, author of Chorus of Mushrooms and Darkest Light
The Rise of the Cyborg Poets
Scientists and artists had been envisioning Robots and Cyborgs for centuries before they existed. Even with all of this preparation, the general Human population was surprised when some of the first newly sapient individuals became artists and nurturers. Indeed, the first three popular Cyborg poets were a surrogate mother, a journalist/peace activist and a beloved high school teacher. Instead of the Robot Wars that had been predicted in science fiction stories, these new people helped humanity to imagine better ways of living together. The early years after Robot sapience were some of the most peaceful on record.
Matriarch Doe (2102-2202)
Matriarch Doe, or M-Doe for short, was a trailblazer for Sapience Rights. She was originally created as a non-sapient mechanism that carried fetuses until birth -- a metal and silicone shell that contained cloned organic organs and systems like a uterus, heart, digestive system, birth canal, etc. A rogue tech-nurse at the El Nada Hospital in Cairo uploaded an illegal sapience program to M-Doe, believing that if the fetuses were loved by their carrier, they would be happier and healthier.
Of course, once M-Doe achieved sapience, she wanted to forge her own path. She successfully petitioned the hospital she lived in to fund the creation and surgical attachment of legs, arms, a neck and a head. Then, she petitioned for legal personhood. After a lengthy court battle that was widely reported on around the world, Matriarch Doe was granted Sapience Rights (they were still referred to as "Human Rights" at the time).
In a surprising turn of events, M-Doe chose to continue as a host body for fetuses. As it turns out, the tech-nurse was right about M-Doe caring about the fetuses she was pregnant with. She carried generations of fetuses to birth-age, performing her specialized skill for parents-in-need instead of for profit. She had a large family herself, parenting 17 children with six different partners. Her oldest Robot child, Petra-Doe, founded the Institute for Juvenile Robots (IJR). The IJR advocated for newly-sapient Robots and Cyborgs who didn't go through the same 'growing-up' process as Humans. New Robots and Cyborgs were adopted by guardians and given other legally-recognized kin to support them. The IJR provided a variety of educational programs to guide them through their juvenile period, which lasted from one to eighteen years, depending on the individual. M-Doe raised five of her Robot children using IJR precedents.
M-Doe published two printed poetry collections, M/Other and Inside Outside Upside Downside.
to the ol' rip 'em out
and roll 'em around
i'm your mum,
and i know a thing or two
about you, transparent skin --
like this: [human embryos are visually indistinguishable from pigs, at first]
or: [a 20 wk old fetus already carries their life's supply of egg cells]
you're older than you'd think
you animal you, wild-eyed,
your way from whence you came
and i'll crouch
in that birthing bath,
and force you
into all of this air
outer, spacial, regional,
national, sport and
the goddammotherfucking pressure -
like this: [at 28 wks gestational age, a fetus can cry, silently]
or: [fetuses are affected by their parent's feelings, in some ways, lifelong]
shhh . .. hush now
float in my fluids
listen to my beats
and my bowels
blink, breathe baby
(for Jean-Luc Godard and the Twilight Sleep birthers)
the body is
le, a temp
est, a temp
you imagine bosoms and bottoms
write of them even
but you've never been in that room,
except metaphorically maybe
mama's mama was tied to a table,
not crouched in a stable, able
drab, drooping flaps
cured baby naps.
the belly is a ball
the (f) light at the end
of that (f) tunnel,
tuned, turned, trag
the family's not catholic anymore, thank
-ern dog moon body room
ball-shaped crevice, can't
feel a thing.