Dodie Bellamy

  • slant June 15, 2020


    MONDAY, JUNE 15, is the anniversary of the death of writer Kevin Killian, who was my husband for thirty-three years. The thought of spending it alone during San Francisco’s shelter-in-place both terrifies and numbs me. I have discovered that I have an enormous capacity for numbness, which continues to surprise me. Before Kevin’s death, I couldn’t bear to think about the horrors of widowhood. Joan Didion’s The Year of Magical Thinking seemed like the most dangerous book in the world; I wouldn’t touch it. After he died, I read it compulsively.

    For all other anniversaries this past year, I went to

  • slant May 14, 2019

    Photo Op

    I FLASH my SFMOMA lifetime artist membership card, and the woman at the counter asks me, “What do you have in the collection?” Her question gets me tense. A few months after the museum sent me the card in the mail—a total surprise—some brainiac in acquisitions questioned my eligibility, and they threatened to revoke my membership. See me on the phone, shouting at a museum bureaucrat, “You’ve got to be kidding me! This is beyond tacky.” I do not know if this cheerful woman now is just being chatty or if this is a test. I tell her my husband has a piece in the Kikibox. She looks confused and asks,


    I BECAME INTERESTED in Mary Beth Edelson for self-centered reasons. I read that she was born and raised in East Chicago, Indiana, a mere six miles from Hammond, my hometown. Edelson has described East Chicago as a “booming multi-racial steel mill town of immigrants.” My brother worked in the steel mill she’s referencing. Rust Belt Indiana is a place nobody comes from, and nothing interesting ever happens there. But Mary Beth Edelson came from there, so I have an urge to see her as a spiritual mother. She was born in 1933, two years after my actual mother. My mother was the daughter of an alcoholic

  • slant February 14, 2019

    I Heart You

    I SIT IN THE COFFEE HOUSE AREA of The Market, a giant food court on the ground floor of the building where Twitter Headquarters lives, eating two types of hot bar curry from a paper box that reads “DISCOVERY. COMMUNITY. REAL FOOD.” I’m also sipping a rather caustic canned pinot gris, which I poured into the thermal bottle I carried my tea to work in. They have a nice wine bar in The Market where I could get something much better, in a stemmed glass, but that would destroy the feral essence of the moment, the way I’m wolfing down my food with a compostable plastic fork. Valentine’s Day—my

  • slant January 04, 2019

    The Return of Inanna

    I FIRST ENCOUNTERED the Sumerian myth of Inanna in the 1980s, when I read Sylvia Brinton Perera’s Descent to the Goddess: A Way of Initiation for Women (1981). At the time I was plagued with a neurological disorder in which electrified waves would shoot through my body, distorting my sensory processing in ways that terrified me. I memorized Sylvia Plath’s “The Hanging Man”: By the roots of my hair some god got hold of me./ I sizzled in his blue volts like a desert prophet. What if these blue volts went on forever, I fretted—what if the world as I knew it was over? When Inanna enters the

  • slant December 06, 2018

    Leaky Boundaries

    NOVEMBER 13–25, 2018—I give three readings/talks in London, one in Oxford, one in Berlin; and I deliver a paper at a Kathy Acker symposium in Karlsruhe. Throughout the trip devastating fires rage in Northern California, the Bay Area air quality going from unhealthy—red on the AirNow infographic—to very unhealthy: purple, and then brown, like a blood clot. I call my husband, and urge him to use the air filter; I log onto Amazon and order him an air mask for there are no air masks to be found in San Francisco. As in all disasters, you either prepare ahead of time or you are fucked.

  • Dodie Bellamy

    In The Assassination of Kathy Acker (Guillotine), artist and writer Matias Viegener chronicles and grapples with Kathy Acker’s death as well as with her legacy. Viegener, who was close to Acker but never lived in the same city as she did, attended to her on her deathbed and agreed to become her literary executor. Acker’s dying consumes Viegener. Of sitting beside her in the hospital he writes: “She is so absolute to me. Every pore of me reads every pore of her. I read her with a passion beyond sex. I see everything. We’re merged.” The two enter into a sort of spiritual marriage. Although he’s