cover image Stemmy Things

Stemmy Things

imogen xtian smith. Nightboat, $17.95 trade paper (152p) ISBN 978-1-64362-150-0

In this resplendent debut, selfhood is fluid and ungovernable: “i am an/ unreliable narrator of my body,” they write, “living gender to gender, marked/ at birth yet far flung of phylum.” A lyric meditation on—and reckoning with—the author’s experience as a trans person, this collection delivers a provocative and original study of queer embodiment, and a sensitive exploration of grief. These sprawling and artfully nonlinear poems “skip, laugh, burn away, shake ass shimmy—” as they offer ebullient declarations: “i’m the woman with a whiskery face, chipped nails/ & girl cock dangling. All confusion is mine—my cherry delight.” smith highlights the confusion, uncertainty, and growth that comes with living, “Whatever i know gets (re) learned daily—,” while the realities of personal, ecological, and colonial violence underpin these daily discoveries: “Stolen lineages, stolen land, stolen labor, stolen languages, stolen kids.” smith memorably celebrates queer excess and the capacity to “use language to say who i am,” inviting readers to dwell in that same possibility. (Oct.)