The poems in Words for What Those Men Have Done continue the exploration I began in The Silence of Men, my first book, of how surviving childhood sexual violence has shaped my life. In The Silence of Men, I focused on ending the silence into which the men who violated me pushed me—a silence that encompassed much more than the facts of what they did to me—forcing me to live without the words I needed to give meaning to my life. Word for What Those Men Have Done, on the other hand, is animated by this question: What has it meant for me to commit myself never to standing on the same side of anything as those men? The book, in other words, is not a “survivor’s memoir” in poetic form; it’s goal is not to arrive at a moment of transcendent healing, though there are moments of healing throughout. Rather, Words for What Those Men Have Done explores what the not-always-comfortable process of holding myself accountable as a survivor—personally, politically, culturally, and socially—feels like. This excerpt from the poem “Gender Politics” captures some of that feeling:
Learning to write poems
has been easier than loving people
and harder than counting syllables
but words grow
and sentences shape
time into meaning
and learning to let that happen
has been learning to shape my body
and I am my body
into somewhere I can live.
If you can come to the launch, it would be lovely to see you. If you can’t, and you’d like to get a copy of the book, you can buy it on Amazon or directly from the publisher. If you can, I hope you’ll consider doing the latter, even though you may have to pay a little more for shipping. It’s more important than ever to support independent book publishers and Guernica does important work, publishing both American and Canadian authors.