Jane Eaton Hamilton recommends “Where the Words End and My Body Begins”


very once in a while, we invite authors to share recommendations for your next great read. Today, Jane Eaton Hamilton recommends one of her favourite books.

What book would you recommend to readers?

Where the Words End and My Body Begins by Amber Dawn, published by Arsenal Pulp Press.

What is the book about?

Amber Dawn excites, tantalizes, and terrifies with a book-length homage to other queer poets using the glosa form. A glosa borrows a quatrain from someone else’s poem and uses it to start the author’s own four-stanza, ten-line poem, which itself re-uses the original poet’s work—a conversation between poets. Amber Dawn makes this form queerily her own.

In Where the Words End and My Body Begins, Amber Dawn talks to such poets as Lucille Clifton, Adrienne Rich, and Gertrude Stein, along with her contemporaries like Jillian Christmas and Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha.

Amber Dawn movingly writes our community, our hiding, our scars, our raw wounds, our addictions, our trauma, our battles, our victories, our healing.

What makes it a “great read”?

There is no one shaping poems the way Amber Dawn can. She’s a fresh and wildly sexy voice in world poetry.

Who might be interested in this book?

If you’re queer and alive, you’ll be even more queer and far more alive after reading this.

What drew you to this book?

Well, I blurbed it (and full disclosure, Amber Dawn glosas one of my poems), so I was lucky to read it before the public, but I was already a huge raving maniacal fan.

How many times have you read this book?

Oh, I don’t know. A hundred? It’s one of the (few) volumes I know I’ll grab when I write poetry myself again—to inspire myself about what perfect poetry can manage.

Can you describe your favourite part or element of the book?

I don’t think it will spoil things to let potential readers see part of what makes this book sail above others:

A Group of Sluts Is Called What?*

a ‘recall’ of memories is what

remains do you remember when we all got bent?

a peep of chickens a clutch of chicks

A what? a ‘fluff’ of aging sluts

A what? a ‘muff’ of ex-lovers

all gathered on the same coast

the same city the same black-lit leather bar

the last homocile standing I’ll hold the ceiling up

with my spare hand my creampie is still grandiose

What I have stumbled upon has pleased me the most

*poem appears with permission from the author, Amber Dawn

Anything else we need-to-know about this book?

If I could write even a line as true and vast and encompassing and enchanting and heart wrenching as the poems in Amber Dawn’s book, I would die a happy writer.

Jane Eaton Hamilton is the author of nine books, including the poetry title Love Will Burst Into a Thousand Shapes out of Caitlin Press (2014). She is a two-time winner of the CBC fiction prize. Her work has recently appeared in the NY Times and The Sun (US).

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