R E D excavates from Bram Stoker’s Dracula, through the process of erasure, an original narrative of violence, sexual abuse, power dynamics, vengeance, and feminist rage, and wrestles with the complexities of gender, transition, and monsterhood.
Chase Berggrun’s R E D is deathy goddy girly queer erasure supreme. They turn the “I,” that bossy mercurial pronoun, into a transcendent blade beyond confession. They take the broken thing of identity and endow it with the kind of agency that can only arise in the survivor, one who has seen madness only in what madness has already been done to them. Chase’s brilliant debut demands to be re[a]d with an exasperated, murderous clarity.
“I violate limitation” says the speaker in Chase Berggrun’s R E D and how can I help it, I love her to no end. This is a book that celebrates, no, reifies the power of erasure to usher in (re)creation. The gifts of transition. The gift of a body becoming “a determined echo hammering away.” How my own body needed these “hands full of sound.”
Erasing Bram Stoker’s Dracula all the way down to its psychoanalytic minimalia, Chase Berggrun unearths a narrative not only of gender transition, but of the uncanny political and metaphysical transitions entailed by the metamorphosis of individual into chorus as well. By the end of this adventure in appropriation as self-disclosure, we learn that the “mystery” was self all along: “A detail in a pool of blood / the body gathered in an awkward kink / I dress myself in easy anything.”
Chase Berggrun is a trans poet. They are the author of R E D, forthcoming from Birds, LLC. Their work has appeared or is forthcoming in the Lambda Literary Spotlight, Pinwheel, PEN Poetry Series, Sixth Finch, Diagram, The Offing, Beloit Poetry Journal, and elsewhere. They received their MFA from New York University. They are poetry editor at Big Lucks.