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ON SURVIVING | Cassandra Myers

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“The word Survivor links to a history, links to some of us who have not survived.” 

Violence drove me to madness
in an ambulance, that red
white and blue hearse. 

My abusers took turns at the wheel.
Checked me into the hospital.
Waved from behind the glass. 

The intake bed’s parchment dress –
white like every inescapable sheet.
white like the ones icing a gurney –
the body’s final embrace after the wake. 

Lest Us Forget the wake
that morning came for us once,
and can, someday, again. 

Lest Us Forget that surviving outlives us.
That it walks us to the grave.
That it gives us our own private eulogy. 

Lest Us Forget,
those of us that did not make it,
those of us who took the r/pe to the dirt,
took their life as a way to take their life back. 

Let us Forget 

All the hands
and the names
married to each finger
when we count
the small deaths 

Let Us Forget –
The handwritten notes
And the medicine cabinet, and
the cavalry of knives 

Let Us Forget
the escape taxis.
the phone numbers.
tinder profiles. 

Let Us Forget
all of their faces
but never each others
never our own names. 

Let Us Forget
everything that tried to kill us,
including the times we tried to kill us.
Our violent parades, wading into the lake. 

Let Us Forget the lake
Pack up the stones. Leave the rope.
Turn on the car and drive yourself
anywhere, but here. 

 

Cassandra Myers (they/she), a queer, non-binary, brown, mad, survivor, writes through her threaded intersections with a focus on detangling. The Canadian Festival of Spoken Word Champion 2019 and CUPSI 2018 Best Poet, Cassandra has been performing within spoken word and slam poetry spaces for over six years. A MSW candidate at York University, Cassandra is applying narrative therapeutic practises within their work as a social service provider and an arts activist. 

ALTER//ALTAR: A Playlist of Longing by Dena Igusti

Today is the release of my book, Cut Woman. The book not only touches on what it means to be an Indonesian Muslim survivor of FGM but also my personal documentation of the ongoing list of those I’ve lost.

In Cut Woman alone, there are over 230,483 deaths mentioned directly or indirectly. 15 documented (emphasis on documented) deaths of Muslims in the U.S. since 2001 (again emphasis on documented. I know more have been lost). 230,000 from the 2004 tsunami in Indonesia that was parodied into a song. Over 563 from the earthquake in Lombok in 2018 that was undermined due to western media’s attention towards white tourists. A version of me that could have been. A version of my father that could have been. My grandmother. My friends, family members, and even my first boyfriend.

During the writing of the first draft of Cut Woman, three people I loved died. During the time between the acceptance of my book until its release, four more perished. Cut Woman is my requiem for all of them, including myself. I don’t know how long I’ll sing for them but I’ll do it anyway.

The following songs are of my love and mourning, how my love is always a form of mourning, and in turn, my mourning is a form of love.

 

You can purchase a copy of Dena Igusti’s Cut Woman here.

Dena Igusti Defies Death in ‘Cut Woman’

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Dena Igusti navigates the complexities of being in “an invisible diaspora” in her forthcoming book Cut Woman, published with Game Over Books. 

Cut Woman is a collection of poems that tackle grief, loss, and anticipatory mourning as a result of Igusti’s experiences as a Muslim Indonesian survivor of female genital mutilation. 

“One of the things I love most is when a poetry book forces me to slow down, to linger in every pause between breaths and reckon with the awareness that Reading is, itself, an act of consumption.” George Abraham, author of Birthright (Button Poetry) says in Cut Woman’s blurb. “Dena Igusti is a poet of undying urgency – this is a bold, heart-shattering chapbook debut.” 

Dena Igusti has explored Indonesian, Muslim, and queer identity in separate entities in past works and projects. Her co-written Off-Broadway play SHARUM navigates shame in Muslim communities. She has discussed being Indonesian briefly for Muslim Girl and Buah Zine. She alludes to her queer identity in some of her poems. In Cut Woman, Igusti puts all of her identities at the forefront, and in the face of mortality.

“With a deft, devoted hand, Dena Igusti weaves alienation, grief, desire, and defiance into an indelible tapestry of survival and celebration. They show us that mortality is not a deadline but a continuum. We will die, but we will also cry, and shout, and love, and dance, and live on.” Teta Alim, founder of Buah Zine states.

Dena Igusti also hones in on what it means to be a Muslim survivor of female genital mutilation, and the honest relationship with her body in the midst of Islamophobia and xenophobia. 

“Igusti’s work asks what is the metaphysical conceit of the cut? from whom or what are we cut? what are the rules of being cut & the life after? when they cut they cut the american light with their brown flicker, they incise the language, they puncture a privilege, & they work with inherited blood. This is a play of radical vulnerability around the self, a play of no games.” says Trace DePass, author of Self Portrait As the Space Between Us.

Dena Igusti’s book is now available for pre-order at Game Over Books. You can purchase the book here

 

ODE TO NAS, ODE TO THE COUSIN THE COUSIN OF DEATH | Trace DePass

ode to nas, ode to the cousin the cousin of death

anesthesia & euthanasia, two

cousins in the night of killing, hand you

two wrenches like lilies for all the pain

first  – one buds like a point with no axis

from which the second blooms       Fibonacci

spirals of petals which might cut any

other flower  to the half-life. here, with-

in this act: the exact same corkscrewing

it takes to give a hand to a wrench, now,

euthanasia, like a cassette, rewinds

you to piles of nail, new york’s, no home.

anesthesia is that baby still young

enough to be a want, at home, sporting

a children’s toolbox, laughing,  anything

 

[could be outside  doors  even death. look: here.]

 

 

Trace Howard DePass is the author of Self-portrait as the space between us (PANK Books, 2018), which was a finalist for the 2019 Eric Hoffer Book Prize. He served as the editor of Scholastic’s Best Teen Writing of 2017 & as the 2016 Teen Poet Laureate for the Borough of Queens. His work has been featured on screen and radio—BET Next Level, Billboard, Blavity, Poetry Foundation, Ours Poetica, and NPR’s The Takeaway—and in print— SAND Journal, Entropy Magazine, Platypus Press, Split This Rock, The Poetry Project, & Bettering American Poetry (Volume 3). DePass is a Poetry Incubator, Teaching Artist Project, & Poets House Fellow.

IG: @tracedepass
Twitter: @southsidepoems

NOT BROKEN BUT FRAYED | Trace DePass

Mikal tells me i need forgiveness & here’s the door
back to all love we walk away from how

the dirt teleprompters the rain
fall back to its skies to better our soil here’s

everybody i ever loved
& here’s           me holding onto me

watch: no one at my helms    no one
somersaulting giddy against my pelt

i’m every black body i ever was
tell them something of me could not be loved

& was loved, that’s where i landed
whenever i aimed for honest

i’m on my way, i’m on my way, i’m on my way,
the darkness i helped i folded in my pocket for this

joyed to be gone with her     that new mother
i’ll be torn from   might have been my own blood

mother. all along. bless my ancestral name driving
back to scoop the fam, chosen demigods   we once

too called baby, the only proof we have that love
happens   here too young to have happened.

i’m dexterous this time enough to love again
& here’s better lovers than me   i bare a thing

& will bare something anything else   there will be
mythos    ahistorical hysteria pigmenting patterns

from which i back flip, thick as a black bone: bone’s
blackness: self to be rattling the omnitemporal   self

 

Trace Howard DePass is the author of Self-portrait as the space between us (PANK Books, 2018), which was a finalist for the 2019 Eric Hoffer Book Prize. He served as the editor of Scholastic’s Best Teen Writing of 2017 & as the 2016 Teen Poet Laureate for the Borough of Queens. His work has been featured on screen and radio—BET Next Level, Billboard, Blavity, Poetry Foundation, Ours Poetica, and NPR’s The Takeaway—and in print— SAND Journal, Entropy Magazine, Platypus Press, Split This Rock, The Poetry Project, & Bettering American Poetry (Volume 3). DePass is a Poetry Incubator, Teaching Artist Project, & Poets House Fellow.

IG: @tracedepass
Twitter: @southsidepoems