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Wound from the Mouth of a Wound

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A versatile missive written from the intersections of gender, disability, trauma, and survival. "Some girls are not made," torrin a. greathouse writes, "but spring from the dirt." Guided by a devastatingly precise hand, Wound from the Mouth of a Wound--selected by Aimee Nezhukumatathil as the winner of the 2020 Ballard Spahr Prize for Poetry--challenges a canon that decide A versatile missive written from the intersections of gender, disability, trauma, and survival. "Some girls are not made," torrin a. greathouse writes, "but spring from the dirt." Guided by a devastatingly precise hand, Wound from the Mouth of a Wound--selected by Aimee Nezhukumatathil as the winner of the 2020 Ballard Spahr Prize for Poetry--challenges a canon that decides what shades of beauty deserve to live in a poem. greathouse celebrates "buckteeth & ulcer." She odes the pulp of a bedsore. She argues that the vestigial is not devoid of meaning, and in kinetic and vigorous language, she honors bodies the world too often wants dead. These poems ache, but they do not surrender. They bleed, but they spit the blood in our eyes. Their imagery pulses on the page, fractal and fluid, blooming in a medley of forms: broken essays, haibun born of erasure, a sonnet meant to be read in the mirror. greathouse's poetry demands more of language and those who wield it. "I'm still learning not to let a stranger speak / me into a funeral." Concrete and evocative, Wound from the Mouth of a Wound is a testament to persistence, even when the body is not allowed to thrive. greathouse--elegant, vicious, "a one-girl armageddon" draped in crushed velvet--teaches us that fragility is not synonymous with flaw.


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A versatile missive written from the intersections of gender, disability, trauma, and survival. "Some girls are not made," torrin a. greathouse writes, "but spring from the dirt." Guided by a devastatingly precise hand, Wound from the Mouth of a Wound--selected by Aimee Nezhukumatathil as the winner of the 2020 Ballard Spahr Prize for Poetry--challenges a canon that decide A versatile missive written from the intersections of gender, disability, trauma, and survival. "Some girls are not made," torrin a. greathouse writes, "but spring from the dirt." Guided by a devastatingly precise hand, Wound from the Mouth of a Wound--selected by Aimee Nezhukumatathil as the winner of the 2020 Ballard Spahr Prize for Poetry--challenges a canon that decides what shades of beauty deserve to live in a poem. greathouse celebrates "buckteeth & ulcer." She odes the pulp of a bedsore. She argues that the vestigial is not devoid of meaning, and in kinetic and vigorous language, she honors bodies the world too often wants dead. These poems ache, but they do not surrender. They bleed, but they spit the blood in our eyes. Their imagery pulses on the page, fractal and fluid, blooming in a medley of forms: broken essays, haibun born of erasure, a sonnet meant to be read in the mirror. greathouse's poetry demands more of language and those who wield it. "I'm still learning not to let a stranger speak / me into a funeral." Concrete and evocative, Wound from the Mouth of a Wound is a testament to persistence, even when the body is not allowed to thrive. greathouse--elegant, vicious, "a one-girl armageddon" draped in crushed velvet--teaches us that fragility is not synonymous with flaw.

30 review for Wound from the Mouth of a Wound

  1. 4 out of 5

    Ken

    This book is, quite simply (and complexly), an in-depth look at what life is like from a Trans point of view. Added to the mix is ever-present violence, not just from society at large but from the family itself due to alcoholism and physical abuse. Though they trend between physiological and psychological, the poems are always lyrical, even if disturbing. Greathouse is honest and unflinching in her writing, employing occasional humor and frequent creativity despite the images of violence. Thus yo This book is, quite simply (and complexly), an in-depth look at what life is like from a Trans point of view. Added to the mix is ever-present violence, not just from society at large but from the family itself due to alcoholism and physical abuse. Though they trend between physiological and psychological, the poems are always lyrical, even if disturbing. Greathouse is honest and unflinching in her writing, employing occasional humor and frequent creativity despite the images of violence. Thus you will find poems with footnotes, word strikes, right lane/left lane stanza divisions, and even a poem written backwards (a gift for your mirror). Sample poem (written in couplets, though GR can't handle long lines in poetry, so...): Heirloom My mother bought the plates because they were supposedly marketed as unbreakable. I sweep shards from the floor while my brother hides in the other room. My teeth cavity with excuses, with I don't know my own strength. But my mother, she knows how easy ceramic can confetti, shrapnel, warning -shot, wound. She takes all the proper precautions. I remember the too-bright paint in the corner of the kitchen wall, the cabinet of unmatched mugs. I'm misdiagnosed--bipolar this time--then, three days later, my grandmother is diagnosed with cirrhosis & isn't this exactly what we mean when we call family by the word blood? I buy two of everything, thick, cheap, & heavy. I don't remember throwing it. I joke that when I am the last child alive, there will be nothing left to inherit. My grandmother breaks a wineglass every visit. Drinks herself to splinters. My mother & I both know the slow ballet a glass hard makes beneath the skin.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Sruthi Narayanan

    Absolutely incredible. Every poem in this collection is razor-precise and, per the review, “demands more of language and those who wield it” in a way that’s utterly electrifying and left me SWEATING.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Melissa Reddish

    Easily my favorite book read in 2020.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Naro

    Painful and powerful — their words echo. They hurt and they haunt. There was so much violence, real and raw, tempered at times with tenderness, but otherwise, uncensored. Reading through each piece, I had to brace myself from the onslaught of imagery and music so near and relevant even in my own safe and unsafe spaces in the Philippines. A familiar discomfort sinks in my chest as I am left to confront my own universe after the words fade, when I am left again to discover the confinements of myse Painful and powerful — their words echo. They hurt and they haunt. There was so much violence, real and raw, tempered at times with tenderness, but otherwise, uncensored. Reading through each piece, I had to brace myself from the onslaught of imagery and music so near and relevant even in my own safe and unsafe spaces in the Philippines. A familiar discomfort sinks in my chest as I am left to confront my own universe after the words fade, when I am left again to discover the confinements of myself. What I appreciated from this collection is its interrogation of the whole alongside the parts, one’s complex identity as tangential to the sociopolitical architectures of the world—from medicine to family, from statistics to bathrooms, from gene to whiteness to psychology to fire, from disability to power to pathology to love. The poems embraced paradoxes of gender and sexuality which provokes me to sink my teeth into questions long set aside, and gave me energy to climb and break through questions which have walled me in. What does this suffering mean for me? The experience of reading this collection can be summed up to faith in my outrage, in my desire to comfort, embrace, and touch with an affection and intimacy beyond binaries the voice pulsing with so much body. And share warmth. Daghang salamat (thank you very much) to the poet for the courage to render oneself vulnerable, your words echo through and will live on in my trans-cendental throat.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Courtney LeBlanc

    torrin a. greathouse's debut collection of poetry doesn't shy away from the hard topics, facing issues of gender, shame, disability, survival, illness and acceptance head-on. Her poems are both brutal and beautiful. from Burning Haibun: "My mother marries an alcoholic & gives / birth to kindling. This is to say, my father calls his child a faggot & watched them burn. / Did I inherit this addiction from my father or the queer of my blood? Once, I swallowed liquor / like guilt & named this family. torrin a. greathouse's debut collection of poetry doesn't shy away from the hard topics, facing issues of gender, shame, disability, survival, illness and acceptance head-on. Her poems are both brutal and beautiful. from Burning Haibun: "My mother marries an alcoholic & gives / birth to kindling. This is to say, my father calls his child a faggot & watched them burn. / Did I inherit this addiction from my father or the queer of my blood? Once, I swallowed liquor / like guilt & named this family." from Family Portrait as Unfinished Meal: "meat must be beaten / brutal into tenderness. // That any body softens / with violence." from Ekphrasis on My Rapist's Wedding Dress: "For any metaphor I can put to it, the dress / is still beautiful. Pale & soft & pure. & isn't this just like my poems? / Dressing a violence into something pretty & telling it to dance?"

  6. 4 out of 5

    Loretta

    In this collection, greathouse describes the corporeality of a “transgender cripple punk” as in pain, in danger, considered dangerous by bigots and transphobic family & strangers. More importantly, these poems express power and beauty. I was, at times gasping as if in pain, only to realize I was gasping in pleasure. greathouse writes in “Ekphrasis on My Rapist’s Wedding Dress: ...& isn’t this just like my poems? Dressing violence in something pretty and telling it to dance?” I have to say, I could In this collection, greathouse describes the corporeality of a “transgender cripple punk” as in pain, in danger, considered dangerous by bigots and transphobic family & strangers. More importantly, these poems express power and beauty. I was, at times gasping as if in pain, only to realize I was gasping in pleasure. greathouse writes in “Ekphrasis on My Rapist’s Wedding Dress: ...& isn’t this just like my poems? Dressing violence in something pretty and telling it to dance?” I have to say, I couldn’t take my eyes from the dance.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Devann

    I received an ARC copy of this book from Edelweiss Am I the serpent-headed girl? Or her endless reflection? Or the winged mare burst forth from her blood? Child of slaughter. Wound from the mouth of a wound. I probably should have waited until a bit closer to publication to read this one but I was in the mood for it and poetry is generally so hit or miss for me that I figured I should go ahead and jump on it and ended up really loving it! It reminded me a lot of The Witch Doesn't Burn in This One exc I received an ARC copy of this book from Edelweiss Am I the serpent-headed girl? Or her endless reflection? Or the winged mare burst forth from her blood? Child of slaughter. Wound from the mouth of a wound. I probably should have waited until a bit closer to publication to read this one but I was in the mood for it and poetry is generally so hit or miss for me that I figured I should go ahead and jump on it and ended up really loving it! It reminded me a lot of The Witch Doesn't Burn in This One except it has a more narrow focus on the experience of trans and disabled women. Would definitely recommend this to people like me who struggle to find poetry they enjoy as it's written in a more modern prose-poetry style that I personally find easier to absorb and relate to.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Amie Whittemore

    Such a heartbreaking and brave collection examining the trauma of growing up transgender, of trying to reconcile one's sexuality and gender with one's family, the many divisions and frictions that arise from such claiming of self, such brave claiming of one's life. Such a heartbreaking and brave collection examining the trauma of growing up transgender, of trying to reconcile one's sexuality and gender with one's family, the many divisions and frictions that arise from such claiming of self, such brave claiming of one's life.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Jessica

    "Do not make me tell this story without a forked tongue." Loved the formal playfulness. So many new favorite poems. Though this may still be my favorite: https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poet... "Do not make me tell this story without a forked tongue." Loved the formal playfulness. So many new favorite poems. Though this may still be my favorite: https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poet...

  10. 5 out of 5

    Julie

    https://www.lambdaliterary.org/2021/0... https://www.lambdaliterary.org/2021/0...

  11. 4 out of 5

    Ciara

    Absolutely stunning collection! The way each of these poems work to reframe & name what language has the power to do is gutting and raw and brilliant. There is so much to learn about the texture of living in every single poem. Thank you for writing this, torrin.

  12. 4 out of 5

    emmy

    This book is featured in a blog post at https://booksbeyondbinaries.blog/2020... This book is featured in a blog post at https://booksbeyondbinaries.blog/2020...

  13. 5 out of 5

    Katie Miller

  14. 5 out of 5

    Melissa

  15. 4 out of 5

    Kay Ulanday

  16. 4 out of 5

    Jude Warsaw

  17. 4 out of 5

    Shaina Clingempeel

  18. 4 out of 5

    Emily Anderson

  19. 5 out of 5

    Laurie

  20. 5 out of 5

    Olivia

  21. 5 out of 5

    Angie Kapphahn

  22. 4 out of 5

    Whitney

  23. 4 out of 5

    Karah

  24. 5 out of 5

    Abby

  25. 5 out of 5

    Madi

  26. 5 out of 5

    Emily

  27. 5 out of 5

    Celina McManus

  28. 5 out of 5

    Angelica

  29. 5 out of 5

    Ben Wenzl

  30. 4 out of 5

    Megan

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