With Portrait of My Body as a Crime I’m Still Committing opening for preorders a few weeks ago, I’ve been thinking about night & breath & the syntax of the body, the painful & glorious route it took to come to this place. Portrait is my first book release in two years, since poems for the sound of the sky before thunder in 2017. The hours, the weeks before release move sometimes gluttonous as honey & other times ephemeral as sunlight; I go between peace & wildness, between hopeful terror & barefaced want.
& oh—I want so much for this book. I want it to grasp tight to its readers & tighter to its dreams. I want it to honour always the ones who came before it. I want it to hurt, which feels paradoxical, but I’m beginning to realise sometimes the best poetry holds that swerving sting. I want it to be better than any of my past releases, & I want it to pale in comparison to the things that come next. I want it to feel both like a harrowing & a homecoming. I want it to bleed. I want it to sell, of course, but even that feels peripheral. I want to ask it what are you seeing, how does it make you feel. I want it to make you afraid but I want more for it to make you strong. I want it to read like an unfinished love letter, like frantic & peaceful & golden & longing. As much as I want this book to be about breakage, I want it even more to be about healing.
I worried a lot about Portrait feeling too different from my previous work, too barren, marred with too many teeth. It’s a sharper book, certainly, than anything I have put out previously. It explores my own illnesses, my fears, my insecurities in ways the rest of the creations I’ve released have merely scratched the surface of. It’s so astoundingly intimate & I think it digs into many of the struggles I’ve faced that I haven’t necessarily had the courage to explore in great detail here on the blog, or truly in any public forum. These poems made me question myself a thousand times over & yet they also felt like a revelation, a cardinal truth, an act of trust. They cut open my veins. They stood without breath. They healed.
I’m proud of this book, prouder than maybe anything else I’ve ever put into the world. I hope I’ve made something good for you, something you need or at least want to hear.
In recent years as my audience has grown, I think it’s become hard for me to articulate in public the feelings that don’t fit into a greater story. It’s become hard for me to share a poem that says I’m sad, & maybe I will always be sad—without somehow infusing some artificial message of happiness or hope into that. In this book I tried to be as unflinchingly honest with myself, with my feelings, as I possibly could. For the longest time I was sure the manuscript would never be published, & that truth was hot as a brand & somehow freeing. When you read Portrait you are reading my darkest hours, & at the same time you are reading sunlight, & the way it constantly proves those hours wrong. Because the truth remains: this is a story about mourning yet it is also, inevitably, indelibly, incandescently, a story about survival.
Portrait of My Body as a Crime I’m Still Committing comes out on May 27th & is open for preorder now. It would mean worlds upon worlds to me if you purchased the book. Thank you so much for your support—I am in awe of how much love you’ve showered already on this tiny creation of mine, this stark-bright ode to starvation & horror & joy.