A series in which Isabella is excited about everything that is happening at Growing Room 2019, so she sat down with some festival authors to hear about their work, and what events they are most excited to take part in.
Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha
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.
Currently on Newsstands
Room 43.1, Hair
Edited by Chelene Knight
In this issue:
Sonja Boon, Kat Cameron, Jhilam Chattaraj, Chelsea Comeau, Nikka Cornelio-Baker, Unnati Desai, Kimberly Edgar, Sherine Elbanhawy, Kim Fahner, Chantal Gibson, Ali Jo, Tamara Jong, Samantha Jones, Angélique Lalonde, Shelby Lisk, Asli Mahdi, Hannah McGregor, Téa Mutonji, stephanie roberts, Zoe Imani Sharpe, Mallory Tater, Délani Valin, Cara Waterfall, Adrianne Williams, Susan Wismer.