BY JOANNA C. VALENTE
What's a good book if your body isn't writhing around on the inside? Seriously. Think about that for a second. These four books cut me to the core.
1. Jay Besemer - Chelate (Brooklyn Arts Press)
These poems explore the world of hormone therapy and gender transition. Besemer masterfully gives the reader a portrait into what embodiment looks like, what it means--and what it means to inhabit a body you don't identify with, or feel is yours. It's breathtaking and heartbreaking all in one.
2. Precious Okoyomon - Ajebota (Bottlecap Press)
As a woman, I felt my body bleed from this. I felt like I could have written it. It's also delightfully absurd and bizarre and chaotic. From her poem, "Look at this picture of a dolphin penis on my iphone":
"Our hamster will stop trying to commit suicide by rolling down the steps.
Our hamster will stop ripping up the carpet searching for something that can’t be found.
Our hamster will stop being depressed. I want our hamster to be stable and secure and okay."
3. Anaïs Duplan - Take This Stallion (Brooklyn Arts Press)
She writes in such a way where she uses the present moment so effectively, she's like a prophet, in that she can dissect the true and cutting meanings in the here and now. And that's damn hard. Duplan talks faith, identity, sex, pop culture, money, and self so candidly and intelligently that it calls for many reads.
Joanna C. Valente is a human who lives in Brooklyn, New York. She is the author of Sirs & Madams (Aldrich Press, 2014), The Gods Are Dead (Deadly Chaps Press, 2015), Marys of the Sea (forthcoming 2016, ELJ Publications) & Xenos (forthcoming 2017, Agape Editions). She received her MFA in writing at Sarah Lawrence College. She is also the founder of Yes, Poetry, as well as the managing editor for Luna Luna Magazine. Some of her writing has appeared in Prelude, The Atlas Review, The Huffington Post, Columbia Journal, and elsewhere. She has lead workshops at Brooklyn Poets.