How Poetry Saved My Life: A Hustler's Memoir

( 2 )

Overview

City of Vancouver Book Award winner

As raw and fiery as its author, How Poetry Saved My Life is a powerful account of survival and the transformative power of literature.

Amber Dawn's acclaimed first novel Sub Rosa, a darkly intoxicating fantasy about a group of magical prostitutes who band together to fend off bad johns in a fantastical underworld, won a Lambda Literary Award in 2011. While the plot of the book was wildly imaginative, it was ...

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How Poetry Saved My Life: A Hustler's Memoir

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Overview

City of Vancouver Book Award winner

As raw and fiery as its author, How Poetry Saved My Life is a powerful account of survival and the transformative power of literature.

Amber Dawn's acclaimed first novel Sub Rosa, a darkly intoxicating fantasy about a group of magical prostitutes who band together to fend off bad johns in a fantastical underworld, won a Lambda Literary Award in 2011. While the plot of the book was wildly imaginative, it was also based on the author's own experience as a sex worker in the 1990s and early 2000s, and on her coming out as lesbian.

How Poetry Saved My Life, Amber Dawn's sophomore book, reveals an even more poignant and personal landscape—the terrain of sex work, queer identity, and survivor pride. This memoir, told in prose and poetry, offers a frank, multifaceted portrait of the author's experiences hustling the streets of Vancouver, and the how those years took away her self-esteem and nearly destroyed her; at the crux of this autobiographical narrative is the tender celebration of poetry and literature, that—as the title suggests—acted as a lifeline during her most pivotal moments.

Amber Dawn is the author of Sub Rosa, editor of Fist of the Spider Woman: Tales of Fear and Queer Desire (Arsenal Pulp Press, 2009), and co-editor of With a Rough Tongue: Femmes Write Porn (Arsenal Pulp Press, 2005). She won the Writers' Trust of Canada Dayne Ogilivie Prize for emerging LGBT writers in 2012. She lives in Vancouver, British Columbia.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Amber Dawn’s voice is heartbreakingly sensitive, yet unabashed. The empowerment and solace she found in the poetry that saved her life is contagious." —GO Magazine

"An emotionally difficult but revealing read about the sex industry and the lifestyle of sex workers in which the author encourages more frankness and discussion in the future." —Library Journal

"Defiant and proud, Amber Dawn's memoir categorically refuses silence, daring to imagine a better world while offering hopeful testimony for those subsisting in abject spaces its author has since vacated." —Vancouver Sun

"Powerful and necessary ... The book's very structure rails against convention and expectation, linking together poems, prose poems, and narrative storytelling to build a cohesive portrait of Dawn's queer identity, her life as a sex worker, an assault survivor, an activist, a writer and an artist. It is tender and biting, gorgeous and courageous, even heroic and, above all, it is hers." —National Post

"How Poetry Saved My Life is every bit as forthright as Amber Dawn's novel Sub Rosa, with the bonus of being a subtly pitched call to arms." —The Globe and Mail

Library Journal
A Vancouver-based novelist who won the 2012 Dayne Ogilvie Prize for emerging LGBT writers, Dawn (Sub Rosa) tells the story of her life as a sex worker, which took her from the street to a massage parlor to an inward-looking life. She's moved away from the sex industry but continues to struggle with issues of self-esteem and identity. In the end she advocates for more discussion and openness about the hardships sex workers face. Through writing both poetry and prose (collected here), Dawn makes sense of her daunting situation, but her graphic descriptions of sexual activities are at times overwhelming. Her mastery of style in some of her poems is admirable. The final section reads especially well, communicating thoughts and feelings that have universal relevance and are not solely about the life of a sex worker. VERDICT An emotionally difficult but revealing read about the sex industry and the lifestyle of sex workers in which Dawn encourages more frankness and discussion in the future.—Gina Kaiser, J.W. England Lib., Univ. of the Sciences in Philadelphia
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781551525006
  • Publisher: Arsenal Pulp Press, Limited
  • Publication date: 4/2/2013
  • Pages: 176
  • Sales rank: 822,185
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 7.90 (h) x 0.20 (d)

Meet the Author


Amber Dawn: Amber Dawn is a writer, filmmaker, and performance artist. She is the author of the Lambda Literary Award-winning novel Sub Rosa, editor of Fist of the Spider Woman, and co-editor of With a Rough Tongue. She has an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of British Columbia. She is also winner of the Dayne Ogilvie Prize from the Writers' Trust of Canada.
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Customer Reviews

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 4, 2014

    To Amberdawn

    I am a clan leader who asks for you to join my clan at "revenge for blood" res 1 please reply back there

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 4, 2014

    Amberdawn

    Keeps Birdkit and Poppykit huddled close to her.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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