June has been a particularly busy month. If you haven’t heard, I just celebrated the release of my first chapbook, Ocotillo Worship, from Apep Publications and held my first solo art show here in Austin. So, I haven’t had the most time to read for fun this month. As such, I am keeping my list of recommendations relatively short, but meaningful. The books on my list this month are important to me for their honesty. They each face trauma and its fall out head on and, rather than folding, choose to scream in its face instead. Each book celebrates the possibilities present in the practice of radical vulnerability and take important space, even as they offer slices of the author(s) to the audience. I hope you enjoy!
Undone, Still Whole by Tianna G. Hansen
Apep Publications, $10
“The bones are always left behind. Gather them as you’d gather kindling in your skirt/ and smuggle them up the stairs two at a time, creaking under the weight.”– “Polish the Bones”
I have to admit, I am more than a little biased when it comes to anything that Apep puts out. The books are always beautifully rendered and illustrated. You truly feel like you are holding something special when you have it in your hands. Hansen’s debut collection of poetry is no exception. The chapbook begins with a haunting invocation, a spell, a curse, an intonation that this book will be a ceremony of stripping and redressing. After, Hansen delivers just that. Undone, Still Whole creeps along like a moon flower vine, opening in the evening, delicate, but hearty and generous. It celebrates the divine feminine at every turn, proving that even goddesses can have scars. It is easily one of my favorite collections thus far and I would recommend it to anyone who needs a ceremony for their wounds today.
Reclaim Anthology Edited by Elizabeth Ruth Deyro
Paperback , $15; Ebook, Free
“I can’t help it. I’m just so good/ at feeling unsafe.”– “Self Diagnosis as Yellow Peril” by Christina Im
This poignant and important collection is the first of a two-part anthology series titled Reclaim/Resist edited by Elizabeth Ruth Deyro. In her editor’s note, Deyro claims, “This anthology is but an attempt, a wish. A conversation among some of today’s brilliant women poets, featuring work crafted out of aching necessity to wear their anger where it will be noticed, acknowledged for what it is.” In my opinion, the collection does just that. Deyro has amassed a troupe of incredible women poets who seek to reclaim not simply their bodies from the ever-present stick of social and cultural pressures, but also to reclaim their space, their voices, and their identities. The collection does not simply scream through fears and anger, but behaves as a celebration of power, even in the face of forced repression. I really enjoyed the collection for each poet’s commitment to their authentic voice. Each piece of the anthology is intimate, ringing with an individuated sense of truth that, together, becomes a well-harmonized chorus. I suggest that any female identifying person who feels as though they have been screaming endlessly into the void read this collection. You will certainly feel that you are not alone.