Course:Feeld by Jos Charles

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CRWR 501P 003
Advanced Writing of Poetry
  • Instructor:Dr. Bronwen Tate
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  • Office: Buchanan E #456
Important Course Pages

Feeld -- Poetry by Jos Charles

Feeld is a collection of poetry by trans poet, Jos Charles, that centres around themes of sexuality, identity, and gender. The book features poetry written in a combination of stylistic Middle English-like language and text-speech, as shown below. The words, though they appear nonsensical at first glance, form English sentences when read aloud. For example:


tonite i wuld luv to rite the mothe inn the guarden / 2  greev   it   /   &   as   a   mater   off  forme  /   did   u   kno  not a monthe goes bye  /  a tran i kno doesnt dye  /  just  shye   off   27   /   its   such   a   plesure   to   b   alive   /  inn  this  trembled  soot  /  u  lent  /  shock  is  a  struktured  responce  /  a  whord  lost  inn  the  mouthe  off keepers  /  &  u thum at the mothe  /  a dozen bes  / i  tetherred  thees  nites  /  i  gathred  so  manie  treees

Charles’s work explores our modern sense of gender and expression within the form of medieval literature, using the medieval disruption of modern norms around sex and other taboo subjects to examine the meaning of “gender” and the trans identity.

I worked with Feeld during my undergraduate degree in 2021, where in Billy Ray Belcourt’s poetry class we had a project centered around researching a poet and experimenting with their work. As a part of this project, I made some attempts to write in the Charles's style, and also worked with the themes of sexuality.

I’m not entirely sure where I found this take, but while researching Charles’s work, somebody wrote about how queerness -- the state of being something other than heterosexual and cis -- was like how medieval scholars viewed poetry: that a poem can take on the same meaning as prose, but that the words are “all mixed up”, and the places where the words are mixed up are where we find meaning. Now, I feel like I should clarify what that source didn't: queer people aren't "all mixed up". Rather, there are parts where parts might not usually be, or a combination that is unexpected. The result of this information is the following poem, by me:


2 womyn holding each othir / r we dif’rent? / can

we not be / strangers to the / whorld

for wunce

she red sum where / that / 2 womyn is lyk poetry / hold me

and wisp’r it in my eer / we r in corectlie / asembl’d /

mayks us meeningful / we r a sentense / al mix’d up

thay wil asembl / them selvs in corectlie /

soket to soket / with owt a plug / we dew not need to wory abowt


This was the first time I had tried to write something in not-English. There was something so freeing about using “incorrect” spellings, and going out of my way to make the piece as anomalous as possible. Looking back at this poem now, I find meaning in the anomalies. I find myself, now, asking myself as I write: how can I make this more weird? How can we switch it up a bit?

  1. Charles, Jos (2018). Feeld. USA: Milkweed. ISBN 9781571315052.