Chelene Knight

The First Room Rooftop Reading: A Fortieth Anniversary Anthology Celebration

On Friday August 19, Room celebrated several exciting new ventures including a reading to announce our forthcoming fortieth anniversary anthology (to be published March 2017 and launched at the first ever Growing Room: A Feminist Literary Festival in Vancouver). The rooftop was stellar, the readings were amazing, and the ambiance was one of a kind. As the sun began to set, the warm air carried these beauiful voices across the roof and over the city. This was a spectacular evening.

Shelfie #2: Chelene Knight: Room Editors Show Off Their Reading Spaces

Getting a peek of an avid reader’s bookshelf is one of life’s simple pleasures. If you’ve ever shown up to a house party and gone straight to the host’s bookshelf, you know how satisfying it is to snoop through other readers’ libraries. The editors of Room love reading (obviously), and we’re giving you a glimpse of our shelves and sharing how we get the most out of our sacred reading time.

Bodymap

By 
Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha
Mawenzi House, 97 pages, $18.95
2015
Reviewed by 
Chelene Knight

Bodymap by Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha uses Dawn’s quote as a preface, setting up a bold framework for what’s to come. This book is pure Piepzna-Samarasinha—tough and full of desire; it needs to be flaunted in all its glory.

Her poems—divided into six sections—gain your attention immediately. Her quest for healing includes multiple references to self-pleasure, formed and folded into a self-made medication for daily, unpredictable pain. Her words flow steadily, preaching a blunt, soulful mix of expert line breaks and thoughtful syntax through prose and other forms that work to create a bodily connection, such as in “dirty river girl”: “For my body / for your body / to come back from being swept away?” 

 Raw, like the way it feels in the moment after losing a lover—that same feeling comes through in these poems. They claw at you, pleading. Pipepzna-Samarasinha’s bold personal truths—like, the way a woman looks at her own body and/or tries sharing her beauty with others—forces us to see ourselves in this collection. We all have experienced pain, lost love, self-loathing and fear of failure. Bodymap is the mirror that reflects this right back at us. 

In Bodymap, the shape of each poem tailors to the speaker’s voice, whether that’s simple or complex—even short stanzas do the work they are meant to do. In the poem “a million dollars,” she says, “I want you to love me / after the lipstick wears off.” These words carry so much weight because we all want to be loved and know what it’s like when that love is unreachable. The feeling itself lingers, much like those two lines.

Although many poems tell tales of past pain, there is no victim seeking pity. Instead there are stories embedded between these pages. Pipepzna-Samarasinha weaves race, queer love, and the sensuality of a woman’s body into one tangible entity. Although each can serve a purpose on their own, the braiding of the three is what makes them grip and hold on tight to each other on this trip through our own body’s map.

Pages

Currently on Newsstands

  • Room 41.2, Changing Language
    Edited by Kayi Wong

    In this issue:

    Manahil Bandukwala, Fang Bu, Allison Graves, Kadijah Guillaume, Ava Homa, Ashley Hynd, Amy LeBlanc, Vanessa Lent, Tasslyn Magnusson, Chloe Yelena Miller, Amy Oldfield, Alycia Pirmohamed, Mia Poirier, Victoria Prevot, Michelle Purchase, Jade Riordan, Ellie Sawatzky, Bren Simmers, Dahae Song, Anne Stone, Susie Taylor, Katherena Vermette, Kayi Wong, Hiba Zafran, Shellie Zhang

    .

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