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

 

SHARUM Completes First Show Week

SHARUM wraps up the first week of its NYC debut at The Players Theatre, with two weeks left under its Self Production Residency. 

SHARUM, written by Mohammad Murtaza and Dena Igusti, is a documentary theatre piece that follows a Muslim family based in Queens, New York. The story follows the wedding of the oldest daughter, Mariam. Throughout the events of the wedding, all 4 of the siblings are forced to come face to face with the reality of their identities, battling the stigmas around mental health, arranged marriages, drug addiction, and queerness. In the midst of this ceremony, these secrets get exposed to each other and the community around them. SHARUM recalls true events in these scenarios that capture the responses of their parents, and the ways it permanently affects their family dynamic. 

The Muslim-written production had its first run in late 2018 at Hunter College, and is now having its first Off-Broadway run directed by Ray Jordan Achan and co-produced by UNCOMMON;YOU and Eat At The Table Theater Company at The Players Theatre till July 27th. 

“Sharum is an experience that needed to be staged in order to represent the everyday internal and external struggles that Muslims fight through behind closed doors” says Mohammad Murtaza in SHARUM’s end notes. “This play is my love letter to my community – a story for and by Muslim Americans. It’s also my fight with my community –  a shout at the uncles and aunties, and mulvis, and imaams, and ammis and abus, who don’t recognize their children for who they are; a mix of two cultures.”

“This production is a love letter to every haram auntie, uncle, sibling, cousin, and family friend who stops showing up to the mosque during Eid.” says Dena Igusti. “Shame manifests in ways beyond the jeering eyes of gossiping folks at the mosque. It can be internal, external, presented as protection, concern, and sometimes love. Muslims are constantly forced to navigate life and identity though shame from both Islamophobia as well as community stigma that comes with their other intersecting identities. SHARUM not only addresses various perspectives of what it means to be Muslim, but how there isn’t a ‘right’ way to do right by those around you.”

“So often in our theater cannon do we not see stories of Muslim Americans depicted. This production offers a perspective into the conflicts that arise as generations and cultural values clash. It is a story about love and family and the lessons we learn from them.” writes Ray Jordan Achan at the end of SHARUM’s program. 

SHARUM will continue its run till July 27th at The Players Theatre. For tickets and discounts, click here.