cover image Deluge


Leila Chatti. Copper Canyon, $17 trade paper (74p) ISBN 978-1-55659-589-9

Chatti turns fear and shame into empowerment in her unflinching debut as she relays her tumultuous journey as a young Tunisian American battling an illness that resulted in continuous uterine bleeding. Chatti explores the cognitive dissonance of maintaining faith despite inherent religious misogyny. These poems are confessional, proverbial, and fatalistic, yet still maintain humility and agency over her story and pain. An example of her stylistic finesse and metaphorical mastery can be seen in her poem “Tumor,” in which she laments her illness by wrapping her words into a spiral “nimbus,” the text waning as it curls to the centerfold: “it requires... to speak on its behalf, to determine its name... it resembles too, I think, a fruit if fruit were buried, a chthonic pomegranate, a Pompeian fig cocooned, or else the dark concentrate of the moon, one of its seas, or the orphan planet of the dead, motherless stone, God of No and Never.” Chatti translates a gritty, traumatizing experience into a hypnotic, transcendental topography of the human spirit. (Apr.)