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

 

Beautiful – Lennix

My body is speaking to me

The tongues of my skin

Speak languages that do not reach my mouth.

Whisper sweet nothings, to which I can not reply, the words caught in

Linguistic purgatory

Trying to translate beautiful

a noun, a possessive word

beautiful,

The word is stuck in the spit of man as he yells at me

“Hey beautiful”

The word dies, becomes synonym with his–with plaything

Becomes notes in the orchestra of catcalls that illuminate every city street I have ever walked in.

And yet the tongues of skin, like sirens calling to Odysseus

Urge me to hear them, to learn their dialect, to find the flowers in words

Men turned have into knives

And yet I remind them,

That language is a weapon

Reared against anything feminine, to invalidate it, to hide it, to pretty it up for consumption

And yet, my skin speaks– vehemently of these reclamations

Of taking words weaponized and weaving wildflowers

Of the glory in survival and how to survive we must teach ourselves to speak–

Because the world, the man, thrives on our on fear

To speak,

And so as I lick my wounds,

My skin, she sings my a lullaby

My mouth finds the hidden curves of her words and mimics them

Moves them around the roof my mouth, down into my diaphragm, and lets them rest in

Between my ribcage, where they safe but soft, but strong, but mine

Beautiful.

About Lennix: Queer. Trans. I believe that art is the only way to recreate myself authentically.
I am a student at Simmons University and I love pastels.

IG: lorionphotography

(photo provided by Lennix)

Poem: “Insomnia” by Briana Joseph|Submission Saturday

Recently, I have been suffering

from a severe case of insomnia.

I lie in bed wondering how many

voices I have escaped in the daytime.

People tell me to count sheep but at night the only sheep I can count are the

black children sewn up

Lying in boxes colder and larger than the ones they store their toys in.

I am forced to acknowledge the things that I have desperately been ignoring

like the skull left dripping golden brain matter

Splattered like a Jackson Pollock painting on the sidewalk.

See that’s the thing about black people, we become a chalk outline on the pavement

Only for our brown skin to become the dirt that cultivates the tulips and daisies they decorate our graves with.

At night, I constantly shift in discomfort and I’d like to think that I twist and

press into the mattress with hopes of somehow leaving my imprint in these sheets as a reminder

A reminder that I am able to leave my mark on this earth with my body’s own power beyond a hashtag.

That I still have a body. That I am matter. That I

Matter.

They tell me to listen to music but the only lullaby my ears are attuned to is the ambient wailing of a police siren.

In ancient mythology, the siren was a creature that led sailors to death with its song.

How befitting of the relationship between the black man and the men in blue. Lured with the promise of

protection only to become shipwrecked with the realization that they were merely chasing a whisper.

How easily the things we had hoped to be our salvation can elude us as the ones causing the ruin…

 

 

– Briana Joseph