The body is the territory, and the territory is vast. These poems are raw, fierce, angry, hungry, sexy, driven by waves of love and necessity. Piepzna-Samarasinha claims space in this world for herself and her community, especially the kids who get the benefit of her years of survival and experience. Section three, “crip world,” is the strongest of a very strong book, a no-punches-pulled view of how people navigate work, sex, love, and other daily needs while coping with illnesses that are often invisible (and, therefore, not taken seriously by some). Erotic contact is as vital to the poet as oxygen, and it is celebrated wholeheartedly and graphically throughout.
Piepzna-Samarasinha’s intersectional concerns create a map of criss-crossing identities, worries, and histories, written on her body and the bodies of her chosen family; her family of origin is unavoidably tied to this, and what appears to have been a challenging relationship with both parents is remembered with honesty and a mature, compassionate hindsight. Standout poems include, but are not limited to, “dirty river girl,” “this is what i know about crazy,” “maestra teacher: a rebel teacher manifesta song in many parts,” “what kind of ancestor do you want to be?” and “you know i’m gonna.”