Where the Words End and My Body Begins is a collection of glosa poems, which means, in part, that each poem incorporates four sequential lines from another poem. What makes this collection especially interesting is Amber Dawn’s selections: each poet glossed “find[s] themselves somewhere along the queer, gender-creative, feminism and/or survivor spectrum.” Although each poet has a different style, which helps shape the glosa created from it, there are some themes that weave the pieces together, including mental illness, sex work, and above all, survivorship.
It’s fascinating to see the different ways that Amber Dawn works with the original poems and creates something new out of them. Some seem to be organic expansions on the original, like she found more words hidden between the lines. Others reinterpret each line and put them in a completely different context. Probably because these are glosas, her writing style varies dramatically throughout the collection. Some worked a lot better for me as a reader–I tend to prefer more grounded, prose-y poetry.
This was an interesting collection that really explores different styles and voices. I think most people will find some poems that speak to them in here, though they may not all hit their mark, depending on the reader. I had to read out the lines “[Sadness] is always here / like a lake forever fed by a cold creek. / Damn right a nature metaphor! / Want more?” to my roommate, because I was cracking up at that interjection.
I never quite know how to review poetry without just quoting it and letting you see for yourself if it’s your style, so here’s part of one of the poems that stuck with me:
I’d sooner howl at a wounded moon, yes, I might
swoon at a questionable light
but at least I still swoon–my scabby kneecaps
may always weep pink, I’m so often floored.
I’ll never be a two-feet-on-the-ground girl.
. . .
Never confuse hold fast with hold still.
There’s so much yet to do. Swoon. I say swoon forever! Apathy
is the world’s worst lover