Review of Elana Dykewomon's Sapphic Classic at Out In Print

What Can I Ask: New and Selected Poems 1975-2014 – Elana Dykewomon (A Midsummer Night’s Press)

This is a terrific collection from a poet whose work spans decade, and it’s a rich body of poetry in which one can see joy, heartbreak, and elegy, but growth most of all–personal as well as artistic, though you’d be hard pressed to separate the two. Dykewomon’s work is all about acceptance and empowerment, looking inside for who you really are and exploring those avenues. Moreover, it’s about belief in yourself, belief in your identity, and belief in your abilities. Even though it’s plainspoken poetry, the lessons are as powerful as any which come with more flowery, ornate language. And Dykewomon is more than willing to pass on the knowledge she’s gained. In “a poem for my unborn niece,” for example, she states: We all know a fat womon is/what she eats./Can we watch you eating?/You must be hiding something/in your flesh,/is it rage or sex?/C’mon, we’re your friends,/we just care about you and we want to see/where the fabric hugs the expanse of your/stomach/the rolls at your waist/the fat that collects in pockets on your upper back. This self-examination is brutally frank, but its honesty resonates with anyone who has been deemed different at some point. Powerful and poignant, this is a collection of life lessons worthy of everyone’s review.

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"Empowerment comes from ideas."

Gloria Anzaldúa

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Audre Lorde

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Andrea Dworkin