Belly to the Brutal

Belly to the Brutal

by Jennifer Givhan
Belly to the Brutal

Belly to the Brutal

by Jennifer Givhan


    Qualifies for Free Shipping
    Choose Expedited Shipping at checkout for delivery by Thursday, October 5
    Check Availability at Nearby Stores

Related collections and offers


Poetry for all the mothers and daughters healing the bloodlines

Belly to the Brutal sings a corrido of the love between mothers and daughters, confronting the learned complicity with patriarchal violence passed down from generation to generation. This poetry edges into the borderlands, touching the realm of chora—humming, screaming, rhythm—transporting the words outside of patriarchal and racist constructs. Drawing from curanderisma and a revived wave of feminist brujería, Jennifer Givhan creates a healing space for Brown women and mothers. Each poem finds its own form, interweaving beauty and devastation to create a pathway out of the systems that have for too long oppressed women. The poems dwell in the thick language of "motherfear," "where love grows too / in the shining center of the wound." This poetry of invocation moves toward a transformation of violence that is ultimately redemptive.

Today I Learned the Word Mondegreen

Which means to misinterpret from mishearing
the lyrics in a way that gives new meaning
as I have long misheard the homophony of my heart.

I take it to mean the first flush of life after winter, that deep
need to keep growing after all your once-bright
blossoms have seeded or wilted away.

Have you ever needed to lie
flat as if dead against the rockmarked earth
& listen to the voices licking against the sky

your past shuffling through the leaves like a remix
till you finally realize what your life has meant—
& it aches?

When the truth comes, let it come like jewelweed
wilding beside the poison ivy. The antidote
within our reach.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780819580979
Publisher: Wesleyan University Press
Publication date: 08/02/2022
Series: Wesleyan Poetry Series
Pages: 128
Sales rank: 1,122,017
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x (d)

About the Author

JENNIFER GIVHAN (Chula Vista, CA ) is an award-winning Mexican-American poet and novelist whose family has ancestral ties to the Indigenous peoples of New Mexico and Texas. Her books of poetry include Landscape with Headless Mama (2016, Winner of the Pleiades Press Editors Prize for Poetry), Protection Spell (2017, Finalist, Miller Williams poetry prize), Girl With Death Mask (2018, Winner of the Blue Lights Book Prize), and Rosa's Einstein (2019, Camino del Sol series).

Table of Contents

The Nopal 1

I Afterbirth, Motherhouse 3

I am dark I am forest 5

Creation Story :: Motherhouse 6

Girlchild Prophetess 7

The Birds 8

Of Color of Landscape of Tenuous Rope 10

The Flash 11

Tigers for Tamir Rice 13

Jer Bear & the Magical Thinking that Keeps Us 15

The Baby Monitor 16

Domestic 18

The Excavation 21

I Awoke Considering What Labor Would Feed My Children 24

Endtimes Meditation on Mothering Self-Care 26

Detention Center 28

II Blood Birth, Rot Birth 29

Genealogy with Something Sweet for the Voyage 31

Rubble Girl 32

Bloom 33

Girlwound :: Motherbound 35

Headless Mama Returns [Xmas 18 Refrain] 36

Sonnet as Corrido for this Busted Mami, y Yo 38

After Hearing of Maria Izquierdo for the First Time 39

Fish in the Air Girl 41

Mother! 43

La Llorona Sings Below Sea Level 46

La Casa Embrujada 48

III Belly to the Brutal 55

I Am Fat & When You Read This Poem, You Will Be Too 57

Nightfishing 60

San Jacinto River, Texas 61

When I'd Moved a Thousand Miles to Follow a Man 62

The Cattle Dog 64

Burn Down the Barn 65

The Bruise 66

Bruised Fruit Makes the Sweetest Pie 73

La Bruja Learns to Sing Her Name 75

Family Violence 76

Daughter Investment 78

Human Results 80

[Even the Trees] 84

Belly to the Brutal 85

IV Rebirth, Birthright 91

Apocalypse Déjà vu 93

Today I Learned the Word Mondegreen 94

After Texas 95

Shooting Fish in a Barrel 96

Dearhearts, we feel good when we do what we've evolved to do 98

My Brother Eats Menudo 99

Retablos & Other Miracles 100

Aubade for a Year [Without] 102

I Bride, I Mother, I Pierce Through the Casket 103

[I Am Raising] 104

Praise for Lukewarm Tortilla Soup & Dog Hair on the Upholstery 107

Creation Story 108

Bright City 111

The Decision 112

Acknowledgments 113

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

"In Belly to the Brutal, Jennifer Givhan explores the questions of gender, language, and motherhood. These are precarious and gorgeous poems, stylistically varied and image-drenched—a speaker who's an adjunct teacher living in her car, a mother who discovers an unexplained bruise on her daughter's arm and seeks its source, the little-known Mexican woman painter who inspired Frida Kahlo. With the dark humor of a good witch, Givhan offers the 'hallelujah hellflowering' we've been needing."—Beth Ann Fennelly, author of Heating & Cooling: 52 Micro-Memoirs

"Belly to the Brutal is a collection of raw and mystical materialism in its exploration of motherhood's continuum: from creation to destruction. The frankness is profound and inspiring, the lyric voice lucid. Givhan gets at the eros and terror of being mother through a harrowing excavation into her body's history. Her poems remind me of Frida Kahlo's flayed and ecstatic self-portraits. I love this book with my salt."—Carmen Giménez Smith, author of Be Recorder

From the B&N Reads Blog

Customer Reviews