Jennifer Givhan

 When I Am Boudicca

 

My huge frame shifts terror & mass

devouring bright as my hair not the only fire to my knees

 

It is always the first century the calendar is wrecked

& we are always starting over

 

I unshed for my children

lost to history lost for they are girls or secret or shatter

 

I am an ordinary woman & every woman

of blood of spear

 

They’ve lashed our breasts from history cut & stuffed

into our mouths & pagan-

 

shucked the bodies we worship

They speak of loss I speak the dignity of snakes

 

around their necks

I’ve birthed &

 

we are always fighting the Empire

 


Jennifer Givhan, a National Endowment for the Arts & PEN/Rosenthal Emerging Voices fellow, is a Mexican-American writer & activist from the Southwestern desert. She is the author of three full-length poetry collections: Landscape with Headless Mama (2015 Pleiades Editors’ Prize), Protection Spell (2016 Miller Williams Poetry Prize Series edited by Billy Collins), & Girl with Death Mask (2017 Blue Light Books Prize chosen by Ross Gay & forthcoming from Indiana University Press). Givhan also has three chapbooks available or forthcoming from Glass Poetry Press, dancing girl press, & Yellow Flag Press. Her novella Jubilee is currently a finalist for the Bakwin Award from Carolina Wren Press. Her honors include the Frost Place Latin@ Scholarship, a National Latino Writers’ Conference Scholarship, the Lascaux Review Poetry Prize, Phoebe Journal’s Greg Grummer Poetry Prize chosen by Monica Youn, the Pinch Poetry Prize chosen by Ada Limón, & seven Pushcart nominations. Her work has appeared in Best of the Net, Best New Poets, Poetry Daily, Verse Daily, Ploughshares, POETRY, TriQuarterly, Boston Review, AGNI, Crazyhorse, Witness, Southern Humanities Review, Missouri Review, & The Kenyon Review, among many others. Givhan holds a Master’s degree in English from California State University Fullerton and an MFA from Warren Wilson College, & she can be found discussing feminist motherhood at jennifergivhan.com as well as Facebook & Twitter (@JennGivhan).

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