Merry Xmas, Headless Mama Returns, & Stranger Things

“O burst O pop O clank
O fuck my swollen bell of  brain. If no candles light
when we scratch the match, has God forsaken?”

(You can read the whole poem here, online at the POETRY Foundation).

Stranger Things Xmas lights Ouija (2)

As a mama poet, I struggle sometimes with feeling less important or relevant or current than if I were writing about other than my experiences raising my children & healing my childhood wounds as I usher my loves through this world, & together we build altars & lay to rest old wounds as we raise the dead into this living & our arms to whatever praise we can find.

I know deep in my heartgut that mama poems are damn important and culturally/socially/emotionally relevant, and I’m so grateful, always, for readers who see/feel the truths my family & I offer in my work. But sometimes when the accolades seem ever evasive & the funds dry up, I forget. In my exhaustion & fear & dailiness, I forget.

This month though, I’ve had the deep joy of publishing my newest work “Headless Mama Returns [Xmas 19 Redux]” in POETRY, my dream magazine, and recording the poem & process for their podcast (you can listen to it at the POETRY Foundation, here). I’m listening to it now, & hearing venerated, respected, wonderfully empathetic poet & editor Don Share talk about the ways in which my poem short-circuits the cultural detritus surrounding our myths about the holiday season & gets to the necessary marrow of mothering — well my mama heart couldn’t be any brighter, even through trauma-induced & seasonal depression, even through difficult suicidal ideations & the deep physical and emotional pain of chronic illness, the Universe/God has reminded me of the importance of my work here, & I couldn’t be more grateful.

Thank you, all, loves, & I hope you’ll take a listen & share. xoJenn

p.s., I discuss STRANGER THINGS in this podcast, as this poem was inspired by my investigation into the Upside Down of this show I adore, which I liken to duende & the underbelly & the hero’s journey — & I’m teaching this, my favorite workshop, online this coming January 2020 through The Poetry Barn. xoxo

Two interviews with Jenn Givhan

“I’m so grateful that my own inner journey connected with the ancients’—and that I’ve been able to glean a different perspective on dystopian fiction from a Latinx/indigenous perspective, centering us in our lands.”

Trinity Sight coverJenn Givhan author photorosa 1

I have two books out this year, & in these two interviews I discuss the processes of writing poetry & fiction & black holes!

Interview with Inklette Magazine for International Women’s Day:

“Alongside these forebears, I strive to weave together a multilayered song of endurance, survival, and, ultimately, celebration sung by the many women of color working together in the resistance.”

Interview with Arizona University Press:

“This collection is a lovesong for all precocious girls wandering the deserts, creating ruckuses and circuses and finding love where before there was only pain— for all the lost daughters of time, reclaiming ourselves, singing ourselves, triumphant. This is our hero’s journey.”

You can buy ROSA’S EINSTEIN from Amazon or any major bookstore, and preorder TRINITY SIGHT now.

All the writerly love & light,

Jenn  ♥

 

Girl With Death Mask now an audio book!

Girl with Death Mask audio book announcement

Dear friends,

My heartbeat has been set. My first ever audio book is alive. & I’m a grateful poeta.

You can sample & find more info here.

All the poetry love & light,

Jenn

Jenn Givhan’s “Tigers for Tamir Rice” Wins 2017 Greg Grummer Poetry Award, Chosen by Monica Youn

street tiger

the book thinks mothers are fools

of Jenn’s poem, Monica Youn says, “The hypnotic rhythms of the poem create a spell in which guilt and fear and love and sorrow cast moving shadows across the imagination. As a tribute to a murdered boy playing in a park, it weaves together rage and tenderness into an artifact that is as gorgeous as it is troubling.”

Read the entire poem at Phoebe Journal.

PROTECTION SPELL in NBCLatino

protection-spell-cover

“The maternal instinct is a complicated emotional experience for a Latina in an interracial marriage and raising an adopted black son. Givhan’s heartfelt poems don’t come across as sentimental because her angst is expressed through the unsettling truths about the racism in today’s America that her partner faces and that her son will undoubtedly encounter. Channeling her inner healer and her inner bruja, the speaker offers words as solace and safety, knowing this doesn’t always guarantee an uneventful homecoming, “the boy on the street, his too-large cowboy boots/ forever walking home toward his mama. His mama/ forever on the porch, searching the skyline for a hat.” This moving and sometimes painful book of poems is nonetheless filled with positive light and hope.” ~Rigoberto González

Read the full list “9 Outstanding Latino Books Recently Published by Independent and University Presses.”

My chapbook LIFELINE now available from Glass Poetry Press!

Check it out at Glass Poetry Press

lifeline

Cover art: “The Heart and Hands of Coatlicue” by Gabrielle Pescador

Image

Landscape with Headless Mama in NBC News Latino!

Amid Uncertain Times, 11 New and Necessary Latino Books to Read

LANDSCAPE WITH HEADLESS MAMA COVER (400x608)Mil gracias al maestro, Rigoberto González for including my debut poetry book LANDSCAPE WITH HEADLESS MAMA on this list from NBC News Latino!!

González writes:

“This list of recently published books features fiction, poetry and nonfiction by writers whose personal journeys as women, men, artists or activists are informed by their immigrant and ethnic histories or by their political and spiritual beliefs — values that need to be upheld as xenophobia, division and even hate crimes intensify.”

&

“This moving collection of poems is Givhan’s literary debut, heralding the arrival
of an edgy and candid voice in Latina letters.”

Landscape with Headless Mama is here!

Jer and Lina with Mama's first book!

My babes are excited to hold Mama’s first book! Proud loves.

Dear Friends!

My book is now available from Pleiades Press and Amazon.

If you’d like a signed copy of LANDSCAPE WITH HEADLESS MAMA (17.95 + 2.50 shipping), you can order it directly from me and I’ll send the book to you!

Thank you for your support! Just click on the following link to pay using PayPal.

paypal button

The Change

My poem THE CHANGE, a finalist for the The Jane Lumley Prize, was published in

H E R M E N E U T I C   C H A O S   J O U R N A L:

“When I was still small I began growing antlers 
as a stag grows antlers, as a girl grows
breasts.”

Read the poem below.

 

(And I love this prompt Tausha Johnson came up with for incorporating magical realism into our writing, using “The Change” as a model!)

 

 

The Change

 

 

When I was still small I began growing antlers

as a stag grows antlers      as a girl grows

breasts      My chest remained flat & the blood

didn’t come      but the velvet skin

sprang spongy behind my temples      No one at school

laughed at the antlers like they did when I’d grown

hair under my arms & razor-scraped my shins

to the blood-bright thrill of the locked bathroom door

Mom said she would’ve given me warm

water & lotion    if I’d let her in    The girls asked could I

pierce my antlers like ears or a nose      & if they

hurt      The boys asked were they strong enough

to break glass      crush tin cans      & how long

would they grow       The doctor

said to stick out my tongue & drink

peach tea from a soda fountain in the nurse’s

lounge so I could pee into a cup & prove

myself       Sometimes a female deer grows

a stub       He asked if there was any chance I could be

growing something else      I told mom

there was a boy but it didn’t mean anything

I couldn’t even use a tampon yet

Soon small red birds gathered & settled

as the velvet turned to bone      matured into branches

They were too heavy & I knew I had a choice

Mom scoured every myth      required

every curandera crack eggs

over my belly      rub sagebrush across

my forehead      chant & pray      One even told me

to sing      I could learn to love my antlers      or I could

wait      see if they fell off on their own        see how long

would they stay gone

 

(appeared in my book Girl with Death Mask, Indiana Review Press/Blue Light Books, 2018)

“Tasseography of Pregnancy After Miscarriage” in Drunken Boat

reading tea leaves“I keep trying to read the tea leaves greening
the lukewarm belly of the mug—”

Read and listen to the rest of the poem at Drunken Boat.

 

Love,

Jenn

My One-Hundredth Journal Publication up at Origins!

virgen de guadalupeI’ve been working like a madwoman sending out my poems into the world nearly as long as my son has been alive (I started submitting when he was one, so I mark my poetry career by his life, because truly, I’m not sure either would have been possible without the other–how the imaginary shaped reality, how I wrote my story into existence, realizing we could adopt after writing poems about being a mother and mourning the children we’d lost to infertility and miscarriage)… Anyway, all of that to say, since he’s been alive, I’ve now published poems in one hundred journals! Today my work went up at Origins Journal, marking this moment for my poems–and I’m so thankful. For the life that brings the poems, and for the poems that keep giving to my life.

“Your body is a knife—

both slicing point

& handle.” –from “Self-Defense”

 

Here are “Leaving Anthony” and “Self-Defense–Or What I Wish Mama Would Have Taught Me” up at Origins!

Thank you for reading!

Love,

Jenn

Sewing Feathers and After the Miscarriage II in Waxwing

woman sprouting flowers

Mark Harless

The mother spreads her arms and waits — hoping

at the top of a hill — for a mend

in the empty break of sky.

–from “Sewing Feathers” (read the full poem in Waxwing).

We lived our first existence as if on an island —

the waving flag of a companionship

always sinking.

–from “After the Miscarriage II” (read the full poem in Waxwing).

Love,

Jenn

“Nocturne” & “Scientific Balloon” up at Four Way Review

Thedress landscapen I remembered: Mama wasn’t gone
but safe, in her bed, turning in sleep. It was I

who went away—from Chopin in the bones,
palms heavy with dates like dark

purple fingers reaching toward sand…

Read (and listen to) both poems at Four Way Review.

Ritual with Fish Water

painting by Vladimir Kush

painting by Vladimir Kush

She opened the door wider, allowed
him in—dragging his fish, his strings of light,
his wounds—from the rain.

–Jenn Givhan

Read the poem in full at The Baltimore Review

Bird Woman and Bloom

sacagaweaSacagawea emerges from the hedgehog cacti
in the lot behind our crumpling house
heavy with cradleboard & mistaken

for a token of peace…

from “Bird Woman

 

 

The boys next door are ignoring my son. burning tree
It’s playground politics, the fragile and shifting
power dynamics of these early friendships…

from “Bloom

Read both poems at The Boiler.

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