Wound from the Mouth of a Wound
Author: torrin a. greathouse
Publisher: Milkweed Editons (2020)
“Some girls are not made,” torrin a. greathouse writes, “but spring from the dirt.” Guided by a devastatingly precise hand, Wound from the Mouth of a Wound―selected by Aimee Nezhukumatathil as the winner of the 2020 Ballard Spahr Prize for Poetry―challenges a canon that decides what shades of beauty deserve to live in a poem. greathouse celebrates “buckteeth & ulcer.” She odes the pulp of a bedsore. She argues that the vestigial is not devoid of meaning, and in kinetic and vigorous language, she honors bodies the world too often wants dead.
These poems ache, but they do not surrender. They bleed, but they spit the blood in our eyes. Their imagery pulses on the page, fractal and fluid, blooming in a medley of forms: broken essays, haibun born of erasure, a sonnet meant to be read in the mirror. greathouse’s poetry demands more of language and those who wield it. “I’m still learning not to let a stranger speak / me into a funeral.”
Concrete and evocative, Wound from the Mouth of a Wound is a testament to persistence, even when the body is not allowed to thrive. greathouse―elegant, vicious, “a one-girl armageddon” draped in crushed velvet―teaches us that fragility is not synonymous with flaw.