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

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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 by Jennifer Givhan

LANDSCAPE WITH HEADLESS MAMA COVER (400x608)Available from Pleiades Press.

Also available from Amazon.

Contact Jenn for a signed copy.

Landscape with Headless Mama is a poetry collection by Jennifer Givhan that explores the experiences of becoming and being a mother through the lens of dark fairy tales. Givhan describes the book as “a surreal survival guide.” A poet with strong roots in the desert southwest, Givhan incorporates fine art and folkloric influences from Latin American culture into her poetry. Drawing inspiration from Gloria Anzaldúa, Frieda Kahlo, Leonora Carrington, tattoo artists, and comic book heroes, among other sources, this is a book of intelligence, humor, deep feeling, and, above all, duende.

“Pardon me, but I’m shivering a bit at my core.  These are restless, storm-hued stanzas, revelations of our dark cravings and hapless, woefully imperfect attempts at  perfect love. Here are the dreams even our dreams won’t reveal, flaunting wild edges and endings that nudge the soul, each fusing of  lyric and lesson as potent as a backhand slap. And Mama watches everything. Mama sees it all.” – Patricia Smith

“The landscape of poet Jennifer Givhan’s searing first book may be that of the desert southwest, but is lush with language, thick with a personal symbology and unsparingly true. If Frida Kahlo and Remedios Varo wrote poems together, that book just might be Landscape with Headless Mama. The women in Givhan’s poetry are a fierce crew. They fight, are flayed and are teenagers at the fair. They catastrophize, hallucinate, hula and struggle with this damnable world. These are true border poems, restlessly crossing between the real and the surreal, the loved and the used up, the fertile and the infertile, and the hungry and the sated. Jennifer Givhan is a dangerous poet in all the necessary ways.” – Connie Voisine

“What’s living without fear of getting lost?” That’s only one of many empowering moments in Jennifer Givhan’s auspicious debut. Her “blood magic” ink delivers the hard truths that kick-start the healing of the “splintered cactus” that hurdles the path of a woman’s journey. Landscape with Headless Mama blossoms with the “strange alloys of sadness” that devastate motherhood and femininity, and then nurture their wounds back to vibrant life. – Rigoberto González

In Jennifer Givhan’s Landscape with Headless Mama, the vivid truth of these poems evokes both the wince of pain and the head-rush of joy, the familial and the romantic disconnections we endure and those connections found in the same terrain that we, still, manage to cherish. If there’s a line in these poems that doesn’t surprise, I couldn’t find it; one never knows where the poem will take us. I found myself tracing “maps of the borderland into my body/ cliff dwelling, the taste of red brick on the tongue….” Each figure rendered, each voice conjured comes to life with their distinct journey, and Givhan continues to remind us of yet another truth: “There are other ways for the story to end.” Indeed, the possibilities seem limitless in this world she builds. If a collection of poems can be called a page-turner, this is what it feels like. – A. Van Jordan

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Mother Writer Interview with Michelle Otero

Performing “Mother Lode” as part of Hembras de Pluma 2015, photo credit: Alan Mitchell

Performing “Mother Lode” as part of Hembras de Pluma 2015, photo credit: Alan Mitchell

I’m so excited to share this conversation with fierce Latina poet/playwright/actor/activist extraordinaire Michelle Otero, who discusses her experiences as a writer and stepmother of two.

But I wish someone would have handed me The House on Mango Street or Bless Me, Última and said, “Your people write books too.” … We hold mothers to very high standards. My mom taught elementary school, raised five of us, cooked, and kept the house spotless. I hate cleaning the bathroom. I enjoy cooking, but the pressure of generating a new meal for kids who don’t like vegetables has sucked any pleasure I might derive from that experience. –Otero

Read the full interview here.

Thank you!

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

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