Review of Khaty Xiong's Poor Anima (Apogee, 2015)

Some Notes & a Cento for Khaty Xiong’s Poor Anima

by José Angel Araguz

Je est un autre (I is another). – Arthur Rimbaud

This quote from one of Arthur Rimbaud’s letters kept coming to mind while reading Khaty Xiong’s collection, Poor Anima (Apogee Press, 2015), at first because of the poet’s borrowing of lines and titles from Rimbaud’s work, but later because of its connection to the book’s running theme of the elusive self. Rimbaud’s quote, “I is another,” which can be interpreted to mean that our concept of self or “I” is separate from our inner selves, seems a natural conclusion within the context of the poetic act. This idea walks the fine line between persona and lyric self, and creates a space for emotional authenticity. These words also carry an added charge when considered within the world of Xiong’s poems, a world of bicultural identity, where the “I” is another in not one but two languages.

With these thoughts in mind, it is telling to look at the opening poem, “Refine,” and note how it reads as if fighting against having a first-person speaker. Without an “I,” the reader feels an added insistence to focus on the opening image:

—two bodies tangled in the night
cutting, pleading
her dark wet form against the darker form

This image is followed by a series of questions:

what does love look like now?

why would anyone want to write this?

what is vulnerable?

Again, without an “I,” these questions feel like they are coming out of a void, their need to be asked more urgent than a need for authorial presence. In dealing with the braided narratives of war, exile, and family, the poems of Poor Anima alternate between this “distanced” type of speaker and an “I” that is right in the mix of meaning-making. Note that by “distanced” I don’t mean abstract or objective; rather, Xiong is able to bring herself under as much lyric scrutiny as any family story or linguistic concept. In this way, Rimbaud’s “I is another” becomes a creative act, one that allows a poet to directly trouble and be troubled by various aspects of the lyric self.

In working on this cento, I specifically sought out lines that had an “I” in them. I thought doing so would unravel a hidden theme or argument in the book. The resulting cento gives examples of the linguistic elasticity that Xiong’s work seeks to engage with. The opening couplet consists of lines from the title poem and from “Bad Blood,” the latter’s title taken from Rimbaud:

When I linger awhile longer and I want my mother
I mean language touched by letters, the ones that teach surrender.

While my means of bringing these lines together was intuitive, I feel these two lines on their own speak to the spirit of the book in their respective ways; when brought together, they create a new depth. In “Poor Anima,” the line “When I linger awhile longer and I want my mother,” is one of a list of “when” statements. Each statement feels unfinished, yet they accumulate into narrative and dialogue grounded in the speculation of the word when, which implies a specific time but also the suddenness of transition via cause and effect.

The line from “Bad Blood” above is the last line of Xiong’s poem, and is preceded by a meditation that starts, “The dead return.” This opening phrase is echoed later in the poem by “Exile opens such possibility, and ghosts remind you to care.” Both of these instances point to the last line’s idea of being taught “surrender.” There is tension implied in this poem between the living and the dead, one that points to the creative space of meaning. The dichotomy of the living and the dead also implies transition. Ultimately, to make peace between the self that is “I” and the self one lives in, one must make peace with the changeable nature of meaning. Which brings us back to the questions of the opening poem:

what does love look like now?

why would anyone want to write this?

what is vulnerable?

The book and statement that is Poor Anima stands as an answer to all three.


Poor An(i)ma: a cento with lines from Khaty Xiong’s Poor Anima

Je est un autre (I is another). – Arthur Rimbaud

When I linger awhile longer and I want my mother
I mean language touched by letters, the ones that teach surrender.

Often, I call to lure myself—
I am American and it means something: My family,

the others I can’t quite trace out
though I harrow,

this time a depression, etc.     I hand over my species,
what a fucking mess. I guess we earned it—

seasons in words. I am your keeper.
I can’t hold this form, can barely remember how

I abuse the season for dialogue.
I mourn the living;

that gives river a new delta. I wait—go on—the same way.
I have been writing other things: other things have been writing me.

José Angel Araguz is a CantoMundo fellow and the author of seven chapbooks as well as the collections Everything We Think We Hear (Floricanto Press) and Small Fires (FutureCycle Press). His poems, prose, and reviews have appeared in Crab Creek Review, Prairie Schooner, The Windward Review, and The Bind. He runs the poetry blog The Friday Influence and teaches English and creative writing at Linfield College in McMinnville, Oregon.

2017 Staff Recommendations

2017 Titles Recommended by Bind Reviewers

To close out 2017, we've put together a short list of books published in 2017 that we read and loved but didn't get to review (yet). Here are our staff picks (alphabetical by author):

Ornament by Anna Lena Phillips Bell (UNT Press)
What Weaponry by Elizabeth J. Colen (Black Lawrence)
Electric Arches by Eve L. Ewing (Haymarket Books)
Sycamore by Kathy Fagan (Milkweed)
There Are More Beautiful Things Than Beyoncé by Morgan Parker (Tin House)
Double Portrait by Brittany Perham (Norton)
Witch Wife by Kiki Petrosino (Sarabande)
Ordinary Beast by Nicole Sealey (Ecco)
Gilt by Raena Shirali (YesYes Books)
Unlikely Designs by Katie Willingham (U of Chicago)

If you'd like to review any of these titles for The Bind, please get in touch!

We also have a few changes to announce: Starting in January 2018, The Bind's reviews will be published every other Friday, rather than every Thursday. We'll also be publishing more interviews and lesson plans, along with our usual reviews, responses, writing prompts, and creative-critical experiments. 

Happy New Year!

Review of Safia Elhillo's The January Children (University of Nebraska, 2017)

Safia Elhillo's The January Children

reviewed by Logan February

The January Children, Safia Elhillo’s electric new poetry collection, is bursting with nostalgia, rebellion, inquiry & declaration. The title is a reference to the colonial & political history of Sudan, as Elhillo’s dedication tells us: “The January Children are the generation born in Sudan under British occupation, where children were assigned birth years by height, all given the birth date January 1.” One thing that makes this book outstanding to me is Elhillo’s presentation of an African immigrant narrative. Her speaker confesses: “i forget the arabic word for economy / i forget the english word for عسل.”

& so she carries on, weaving Arabic & English together, fluidly. Sometimes she offers a translation, & in other cases, she doesn't. A notable element is the telling of her story entirely in lowercase. I interpret this as an unapologetic expression of a dual self—colonized, but not quite, African, but not quite. This duality creates the tension that drives The January Children; she is both Sudanese & “homesick from safe inside [her] blue / american passport;” both blackgirl & “ب بنت   daughter of arabs.” There is a moment where the speaker concedes: “it’s only that i’m west of everything i understand.”

This is how she tells her story: balancing bravado with vulnerability. The book is opened with a most apt line: “verily everything that is lost will be / given a name,” & this is what the speaker is—lost, & trying to find a name. Although hers is “a story older than water,” Elhillo devises a new, nonconformist way of telling it: navigating the Sudan through a cultural icon, Abdelhalim Hafez, “the loverboy prototype,” “the first romantic.”

Across a series of applications & interviews “for the position of aldelhalim hafez’s girl,” the speaker investigates her identity through the lens of Abdelhalim’s lyrics about a brown girl. She inquires: “i heard the lyric about a lost girl      i thought you meant me,” in response to which she is informed: “you know he didn’t mean that brown you know he didn’t mean black.”

The reader then navigates her Sudan & her America through her. We are with her in the midst of her bad-ass declarations:

“maryland / is my / sudan”
“where i’m from is where i’m from & not / where i was put”
“i am looking for a voice with / a wound in it”
“& what is a country but the drawing of a line i draw thick black / lines around my / eyes & they are a country”

We are with her in her moments of curiosity:

“do you even / understand what was lost to bring you / here”
“sure the / sudanese are / honest people but      what about glamour”
“whose daughters are we if we grow old before our mothers or for their sakes”

We are also with her in her more vulnerable moments of confession:

“i grew / & / my rift grew // & / another / sudan / was / missing”
“i am most afraid of having nothing / to bring back so i never come home”
“the slow finish is in my heart / its syrup trickle / & i don’t mean love / i mean my wet crooked / actual heart”

We witness her as she unearths the tragic fact that Abdelhalim was in fact, never singing about a girl like her, because “black is taking /asmar/ / too literally” & she learns to deal with that. In my favorite moment of this book, the speaker invokes ancestry (the book is laced with references to grandmothers) at the end of a “lovers’ quarrel with aldelhalim hafez,” saying: “look       i’m a sad girl from a long line of sad girls / doesn’t mean you can talk to me that way.”

This grit & confidence makes The January Children unforgettable. Elhillo claims she does “not always survive / across boundaries,” but here, she does.

Logan February is a happy-ish Nigerian owl who likes pizza & typewriters. He is Co-Editor-In-Chief of The Ellis Review. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in Tinderbox, Wildness, Glass, Bateau, and more. He is author of How to Cook a Ghost (Glass Poetry Press 2017) & Painted Blue with Saltwater (Indolent Books 2018). Say hello on Instagram & Twitter @loganfebruary.

Interview with Lucy Biederman on The Walmart Book of the Dead (Vine Leaves Press, 2017)

The Walmart Book of the Dead: A Conversation with Lucy Biederman

by Tyler Mills

Lucy Biederman is a lecturer in English at Case Western Reserve University. She holds a Ph.D. in English from the University of Louisiana-Lafayette and an MFA in creative writing from George Mason University. Her first book, The Walmart Book of the Dead, won the 2017 Vine Leaves Press Vignette Award. She has written four chapbooks of poetry, and her short stories, essays, and poems have appeared recently in AGNI, Ploughshares, and Pleiades. Her scholarship, published in The Henry James Review, Women’s Studies, and Studies in the Literary Imagination, focuses on how contemporary American women writers interpret their literary forebears.

Tyler Mills: Your smart and haunting collection, The Walmart Book of the Dead, begins with an epigraph dedicated to the reader:

As for who reads this book
And who follows its spells
I know your name
You will not die after your death
In Walmart
You will not perish forever
For I know your name

Your book merges the Egyptian book of the dead with Walmart, a hub that brings together so many communities who have come there to find that thing which will fulfil a need or want that often—especially in rural places—can only be found there. Sometimes, going to Walmart is about the experience of being there. In rural places I’ve lived, Walmart has been a place to go in the middle of the night, a place where people can sleep in the parking lot, a place where you can get medicine and underwear, eyeglasses and Subway sandwiches, milk and bleach. Can you talk about how Walmart functions in your novel, and how you’ve thought of it as a new kind of liminal space between life and death?

I think “high literary culture”...politely ignores Walmart, even as it says such strong, bold, liberal stuff about the lives of the working class, or the lives of contingently employed faculty, or the lives of students under the poverty line. Where is our literature about Walmart, this central place people go, so deeply entrenched in American life?

Lucy Biederman: I was deeply into the Egyptian book of the dead when I was writing it, and I was thinking about how death was such a part of ancient Egyptians’ lives—it IS a part of life, but it’s not present in our culture in the same way it was for ancient Egyptians. I think “high literary culture” treats Walmart like that. It politely ignores Walmart, even as it says such strong, bold, liberal stuff about the lives of the working class, or the lives of contingently employed faculty, or the lives of students under the poverty line. Where is our literature about Walmart, this CENTRAL place people go, so deeply entrenched in American life? How could I live and look around and not write about it?!?!  

T.M.: Yes, absolutely. What is your experience with Walmart? Did you get the idea for this book while you were shopping in a Walmart? Can you think back to the moment where you thought, “I have to write about this?” Where were you and what were you thinking about? Or, what have your own experiences with Walmart been like? Do you have a Walmart story that inspired this book?

L.B.: The idea for this book coalesced as I listened to two separate episodes of my brother Felix’s podcast Chapo Trap House during the presidential election. The first highlighted Terrence McCoy’s beautifully written Washington Post article, “In Jim Cooley’s open-carry America, a trip to Walmart can require an AR-15.” On a later episode, Matthew Sitman of Commonweal Magazine spoke about poor people in Appalachia, and he said something like, this isn’t really a story for journalism. It should be a novel. I took that as a demand. There are tons of literary books by some native-interpreter-genius who made it out of a conservative rural area by the skin of their teeth: not that. That’s for and about people who don’t go to Walmart.

T.M.: Could you speak to the way that the book introduces the function of the spell? You’ve addressed and constructed various versions of a “you” deeply and sensitively throughout the sections of your novel. The epigraph promises eternal life through a narrator that will account for, record, and remember the names of those who have passed through the box store created by the forces of late-Capitalism. “You will not die after your death / In Walmart / You will not perish forever / For I know your name.”  How are you thinking about the function of the spell in your novel? And what about the Egyptian book of the dead inspired you to embark on this project?

L.B.: The Oriental Institute in Hyde Park, in Chicago where I grew up, has a lot of Egyptian books of the dead, so I knew about it growing up.

I started working on this during the election. I was feeling so sorry for all the terrible people of our country, their ugly, unheard, unHERALDED voices. In ancient Egypt, a book of the dead had spells to guide you through the afterlife—but you couldn’t get one unless you were rich, because papyrus was very expensive. If you died without one, you wouldn’t know how to get to the beautiful, golden parts of the afterworld; you were stuck, like in life, just wandering around.

When Trump won, I was in New York City because my brother was doing an election show. The next day, both my brothers were working so I went to the Met—which also has an excellent Book of the Dead collection. In art exhibits, I always skip over the parts about the old governments that societies had, in Sumur or China or France or whatever. It’s almost head-spinning to think that this Trump stuff will be boring in not very long at all; it’s the art endures.

I have so much to say about this, but in brief, I think my MFA and Ph.D. are like papyrus. I get to say all sorts of stuff and do all sorts of stuff in the literature that *I* make—while getting to complain that I’m not on the tenure track; but I don’t have to do manual labor. I live alongside people who do; who have the fate that the poor in ancient Egyptians had: *they don’t make it into our books*—or, when they do, it’s in a fetishizing kind of way that ends up gratifying people like ME; they don’t show up as HUMAN. Who am I to cast such strong judgment on any other person, just because I can afford papyrus?

T.M.: I keep thinking about how the spells in The Walmart Book of the Dead don’t read as anonymous incantations because of the “illustrations” that appear afterward. In these “illustrations” are voices that emerge from the minds of a whole cast of characters—from a gun owner who lives next to an LSD trailer to a middle-class shoplifter to a pimp with new “recruits” to a listless college dropout—that find themselves in the fluorescent, placeless, sameness of this big box store.

Your book isn’t specifically about the election, but it does bring to life a space where you could imagine seeing a red “MAGA” hat or two. And, one of your illustrated characters does clothes himself in DT garb (I can’t bring myself to write his name). Here is your illustration for “SPELL for Making One Not Have to Work in God’s Domain”:

“He has a t-shirt with an airbrushed image of Donald Trump, looking slim and belligerent, standing on a tank. He’s proud of his lack of education. Anti-education, he calls it.”

This section of the novel gives us this troubling perspective, alludes to a secret about him and a kind of sadness that pervades his life, as unsympathetic a character he might be. Could you talk about how you created these illustrations? They don’t read at all like stock figures, but rather like the reader is able to momentarily access a strand of thought that each person is having through the way you’ve illustrated the spell.

L.B.: Egyptologists often call the illustrations that accompany the spells in the book of the dead “vignettes,” and in our culture, we think of vignettes as written stories. I thought it would be interesting to draw out peoples’ lives in words, the way ancient Egyptian artists literally drew scenes.

In ancient Egypt, you got the entire map for the afterworld if you were wealthy; if you weren’t, you didn’t get any, or you got a very small part of it. In America, the upper classes consign the lower classes to Walmart and then make fun of them for shopping there. It’s a sign of wealth to avoid it, even to just go to Target instead. In illustrating people, I wanted to show their interiorities and humanity—even in Walmart, even in MAGA hats. There are worse things you can do than wear a MAGA hat. But even if the worst thing you can do is wear a MAGA hat, the thing that makes me want to write is the drive to imagine what it’s like to wear one, to be the person wearing one.

I also keep thinking about how wealth disparity operates in America today, and how we can maybe extend this analogy to credit (and debt): how it can seem like you can buy a future—like an afterlife—with all these things at Walmart or Target or Best Buy or wherever that seem to say “this is the version life you can have in the future."

T.M.: Exactly. I’m fascinated by what you said—“In Ancient Egypt, you got the entire map for the afterlife if you were wealthy; if you weren’t, you didn’t get any, or you got a small part of it”—and how this has been the case in so many cultures across time (like buying indulgences in the Catholic church, say, or even investing in funeral plots and headstones and even mausoleums). I also keep thinking about how wealth disparity operates in America today, and how we can maybe extend this analogy to credit (and debt): how it can seem like you can buy a future—like an afterlife—with all these things at Walmart or Target or Best Buy or wherever that seem to say “this is the version life you can have in the future,” and how this can be so illusory. I don’t know if I have a question here; I suppose I’m thinking about debt and the afterlife as one kind of analogy. Maybe I’m thinking about the housing bubble as well—though with credit and debt, the future does arrive and take everything back. In The Walmart Book of the Dead, what do you think the function of the items that your characters’ desire might have? Are they like magical items in this afterlife? Are they symbolic of permanence somehow—even though they can’t be? Could you say something about one of the items a character wants and how you think about their relationship to it?

L.B.: The illustration for the Spell to Light the Path Through Night is about a girl who wants something desperately, but I don’t say what it is. That spell is about the extreme desire for stuff sown in childhood. The poet Susan Wheeler has a wonderful line, “Child in the thick of yearning,” that I was thinking about as I wrote this. “Can I have and the song’s begun.” In this spell, and in the book, I was more interested in the quality of the arrow pointing toward the material thing, than in the thing itself.

That’s fascinating what you say about credit and debt. That’s something I didn’t investigate in this book. Did you see that Gary Cohn, the other day, when he was announcing their never-going-happen plan for tax reform, said that with the $1,000 families save, they can buy a vacation or a car or redo their kitchens? I was talking about it with my mom and I was like, “I don’t even understand—as a money guy, wouldn’t he know how much a car costs?” My mom said, “He’s talking about the down payment. He’s inviting people to take on more debt.” Because then, people like him get richer. The worst thing about being not-rich, from a SOUL perspective, is that NOTHING is about you, not even a sentence that purports to be about you. It’s about Gary Cohn.

T.M. What was a moment of your book that was really challenging for you to write? Could you share an excerpt with us and tell us how you made it through this moment of the project?

L.B.: There are things that frustrate me about the kind of writer I am, like that I always have to bring myself into it, like I can’t just imagine a full world that exists without Lucy Biederman the way novelists I adore, like Julia Alvarez, Joyce Carol Oates, Toni Morrison, Norman Mailer, create whole, full worlds without an “I” in them. But now that I write this, I’m thinking of a BEAUTIFUL thing Philip Roth says about his obsession with the “I” that narrates Madame Bovary—it’s just some guy who went to school with M. Bovary, like an eyehole where Flaubert can peek in, and that’s what Roth’s wonderfully Roth-like Zuckerman is, too. And my favorite, Henry James, inserts an “I” in the most unlikely of places, deep in the middle of a novel where it hasn’t yet appeared. It’s like, oh, you’ve been here this whole time?

I love writing. I don’t think this is an obvious thing to say, because I read a lot of articles about how difficult it is for writers to write. There’s a lot of things, like having a job that you have to go to every day, that I find extremely difficult, but writing is a joy! It’s optional and I choose to do it. In the realm of my writing, I get to make so many choices, unlike in the exterior world, where the choices I make are determined and circumscribed by Gary Cohn.

I try to be light about it. If something isn’t working, or if I get frustrated, I try to stop and just return to it the next day. I am a huge fan and follower of the late, great writing studies psychologist Robert Boice, who recommended that writing be done in “brief, regular bouts.”

T.M.: In addition to writing this award-winning work of experimental fiction, you are also a wonderful and prolific poet. Could you say something about how you approached this project differently, say, than you might a sequence of poems? Perhaps another way into this question is this: why did you choose fiction and not poetry for this subject? What did fiction offer you, as a writer, that poetry didn’t?

I’m often struck by how narrowly we writers and readers define experimental writing and its genealogy.

L.B.: Thank you! And thank you for giving me the opportunity to talk about genre, which is one of my favorite topics. If I’m remembering correctly, I thought of the manuscript as poetry up until the time I was ready to submit it, and then I realized how long the chunks of prose were, and how narrative.

When the book was coming out, someone said to me, “Oh, experimental fiction, huh? Well that’s a very big category. Are you talking Tristram Shandy or Language Poetry?” I was going to say, actually, more like the Egyptian book of the dead, but he wouldn’t stop talking so I actually never got a chance to answer.

I’m often struck by how narrowly we writers and readers define experimental writing and its genealogy—the way I see it, there isn’t much leeway or possibility for ME as a writer, between the metafiction of Tristram Shandy and the metapoetics of Language Poetry, to equip and empower me to say what I want to about Walmart. However, I was inspired by how generically various the Egyptian book of the dead is—poetry and prose mixed together, like in the Bible. In writing, we can do ANYTHING—anything!—but so often, we don’t. I think one of the things that holds us back is the grip of genre.

T.M.: Speaking of bending genres, what would be your playlist for The Walmart Book of the Dead?

L.B.: The music I associate with this book is the country songs I have been playing on repeat for like 20 years, by David Allen Coe, all three Hank Williamses, Dwight Yoakam, and Loretta Lynn. There’s this beautiful book Rednecks, Queers, and Country Music by Nadine Hubbs, where she points out how middle- and upper-middle-class hatred of country music and its perceived bigotry doesn’t square with what these songs actually ARE—how open they are to difference and weirdness. It’s like the bigotry of middle-and upper-middle class white people has been projected onto country music and the people who listen to it, so now those people really have NOTHING, not even their cultural acceptance of “the Other,” now that it’s become cool to accept the Other.

T.M.: Your book launches right around Halloween. If The Walmart Book of the Dead were a Halloween candy, what would it be?

L.B.: An apple with a razor blade in it.

Tyler Mills is the author of Hawk Parable, winner of the 2017 Akron Poetry Prize (forthcoming in 2019) and Tongue Lyre, winner of the Crab Orchard Series in Poetry First Book Award (SIU Press 2013). Her poems have appeared in The New YorkerThe Guardian, and Poetry, and her creative nonfiction in Copper Nickel (Editor’s Prize in Prose), AGNI, and The Rumpus. She is editor-in-chief of The Account and teaches at New Mexico Highlands University. 

Review of Nicole Homer's Pecking Order (Write Bloody, 2017)

8 Things Nicole Homer’s Pecking Order Taught Me About Motherhood

a creative review by Leila Green


In Nicole Homer’s first full-length poetry collection, Pecking Order, she examines motherhood and its impact on women’s bodies. Her poems circle miscarriages, births, and child-rearing, uniquely focusing on their dreary, physical aspects. They subvert the power typically associated with childbirth, exploring the visceral elements that often render it grotesque. In “Motherhood,” she laments:

Motherhood is like
being pecked
to death
by my
favorite birds
made from my
body, torn
by beaks sharpened.

In this way, Homer strays from often romanticized notions of motherhood, offering a more sobering, nuanced account of birthing and raising children. The strange violence depicted here is mirrored in another poem, “How I Became a Mother Contemplating Loss,” in which the act of giving birth is totally stripped of melodrama and instead painted with blood and other unsavory fluids:

My body offered me a new
dream: a woman as round as I, reaching into me; a room, dimly lit and
gray; voices talking to me; tears and sweat and shit and blood, my blood,
my screams. Then, my newest prayer on my chest. Hungry for my body
and suckling at me until we were both milk drunk and near sleep…

This portrayal of mother and child as undergoing intertwined traumas invites an inquiry about the ownership of women’s bodies. Aside from the physical effects, what does giving birth say about mothers and their bodies? How much of ourselves is lost when we give birth? Homer writes of her newborn son: “I held him for hours that way. His hair flaked with my blood. His skin/ sticky with my blood. His blood, my blood” (“How I Became a Mother Contemplating Loss”). This mingling of selves is at odds with the body’s reclaiming after childbirth. Even after they are born, a mother’s child is still an inextricable thing. Through offering more realistic, less saccharine versions of birth and motherhood, Pecking Order forces us to reexamine often glamorized understandings of what it means to birth life, assume the role of a mother, and reclaim the body. Ultimately, Homer makes us wonder: Does motherhood elevate or lower women and their bodies in the proverbial pecking order?

Although Pecking Order begs many questions, it ended up answering several of my own. Homer’s poems taught me that:

1.     Giving birth is not only beautiful, but violent. Even grotesque.

2.     Our bodies barely belong to us. Even our children can pillage them, grow, then go elsewhere.

3.     Motherhood makes women belong even less to themselves.

4.     We have to work to reclaim our bodies, after birth, during life, after death.

5.     Our children can be cruel reminders of what we are not.

6.     Overarching narratives about the power of motherhood ignore the ways in which it often renders us powerless.

7.     Our children’s bodies are inextricably, and eternally, tied to our own.

8.     Motherhood is a double-edged sword.

Leila is a 24 year old writer from Milwaukee. She posts reviews of black poetry and literary fiction on her Instagram: