Anthony Thornton reviews Emji Spero’s almost any shit will do

In their latest collection, Emji Spero resuscitates the philosophical rhizome from its trendy and torpid academic state and Occupies it, capital O intended. Spero’s source texts include not only those of Deleuze and Guattari, but Judith Butler’s Violence, Mourning, Politics and articles on swarm behavior and mushroom culture. In the wrong hands this could result in jumbled inaccessibility, but Spero liberates theory through civil resistance, inclusive second-person narrative and a personal meditation on chronic pain inflicted through police brutality. (Spero was injured by a police officer in 2009.)


almost any shit will do is a network of varying definitions of the “individual (n.)” and “the movement (v.),” interconnected with transitional phrases that describe how protest operates: uncannily similar to the underground flourishing of fungi. The protester is the shit, meaning that a body, the microcosm of the rioting whole, is crucial in fertilizing resistance. As in a rhizome, there is no hierarchy, beginning or end to protest; it flares continuously and unpredictably from the underground. Spero’s circled and interlinked words demonstrate Deleuze and Guattari’s “semiotic chains”, which goad the eye to enter or exit the text at will to create meaning. The reader can construe these links as a purposeful whole or break them apart by reading them chronologically. Either way the reader inhabits the text, joining the network as Spero intended. The author and protester’s injuries are “shoved under for the sake of continuing to resist in other contexts,” Spero writes, inciting the reader to progress forward through the text, through constant injustice. almost any shit will do is especially prescient, given that America is under siege by rampant, systematic police brutality. What is left unscathed are the extensive, massive underground roots of resistance.

 — Anthony Thornton


Emji Spero is an Oakland-based artist and co-founder of Timeless, Infinite Light press. Spero’s previous work has appeared in Dusie, Tripwire, Jupiter88 and The Vulgate and elsewhere. almost any shit will do, reviewed here, is one of six winners of CA Conrad’s inaugural Sexiest Poetry Award.