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C.N.P Poetry 

  • Writer's pictureCathexis Northwest Press

Tritina in the Time of the Machine

By: Diane Thiel

In nearly every pocket, a small, methodical machine,

but the world still unprepared for the systematic replicating

deep inside cells. The reckoning strand trying to come alive

using the hosts, chosen to copy, repeat, bring them alive

on the most basic scale. A sharp spike of the stealthy machine,

just waiting for another opening, ready to be replicating

everything it needs. At first, we barely notice the replicating,

from exo-brain to endo-coding. Some neurons only half-alive

in any given decision anyway, and over time mostly machine,

the machine grinding on, replicating its meaning of alive.


Diane Thiel is the author of ten books of poetry and nonfiction, including Echolocations and Resistance Fantasies. Her new book of poetry, Questions from Outer Space is forthcoming from Red Hen Press in Spring 2022. Thiel's work has appeared in many journals, including Poetry, The Hudson Review, The Hopkins Review, Rattle, Notre Dame Review, and the Sewanee Review and is re-printed in numerous anthologies. Her awards include a PEN award, the Robinson Jeffers Award, the Robert Frost Award, the Nicholas Roerich Award, an NEA Award, and she was a Fulbright Scholar. Thiel received her undergraduate and graduate degrees from Brown University and is Professor of English and Associate Chair at the University of New Mexico. Thiel has traveled and lived in Europe, South America, Asia, and Australia, working on literary and environmental projects. For more information, please visit

“Tritina in the Time of the Machine,” written in 2020, incorporates imagery of the virus itself as well as its impact on worrisome trends in our society, such as accelerating an attachment to technology and social media. The tritina emerged as an apt form for the subject matter, given the form’s use of repetition. The poem is in my new book, Questions from Outer Space, forthcoming from Red Hen Press in Spring 2022. In an advance review of the book, the writer Fred D’Aguiar comments that the book “offers subtle critiques of the machine and digital age for their impersonality and for mounting assaults on nature.” In another review, poet and critic David Mason discusses the poems in terms of “the objectivity of science mixed with a human concern for how we find our way” and adds, “These are field notes from ‘the edge of reason,’ poems of intelligence and concern…a book tuned to deep experience of life on earth.”


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