Cut Woman by Dena Igusti (2020)
In a post-colonial world shaped by what is and what will be lost, what is there left to celebrate? In Dena Igusti's debut collection Cut Woman, Igusti is overwhelmed by the loss of her people. The loss includes but is not limited to: the deaths of Muslims around the world due to xenophobia and Islamophobia; the deaths of Indonesians as a result of post-colonialism, state violence, environmental racism, and overall media negligence and prioritization of white people over her own; the mortality of friends, lovers, and family facing economic disparity and gentrification in New York City; the loss of her body that could've been her body if she didn't undergo female genital mutilation. She knows that one day, her time will be up too. Rather than stay in mourning, she tries to turn these wakes, both current and future, into the biggest celebrations of her life.
Praise for Cut Woman
“One of the things I love most is when a poetry book forces me to slow down, to linger in every pause between breaths and reckon with the awareness that Reading is, itself, an act of consumption. Cut Woman does just this. From “night // fall” to “day//break,” Igusti’s speaker forces readers to linger in the spaces both within and between words, bodies, and countries, even when those spaces do not yet exist: “altar of my body did i give you // a forever // i could not promise? // …// an altered kind of grief?” These poems slice, piece, project only to gut open. These poems remember despite Memory: “i purposely forget // the prayer for when someone dies // inna-illahi-something // i always remember how to start // grieving // but // never when or how to let it out of my mouth.” Dena Igusti is a poet of undying urgency - this is a bold, heart-shattering chapbook debut.”
—George Abraham, author of Birthright (Button Poetry)
"Speechless. Euphoric. Cathartic. Cut Woman is a vibrant prayer for our living and a loving salve for our ghosts. With a deft, devoted hand, Dena Igusti weaves alienation, grief, desire, and defiance into an indelible tapestry of survival and celebration. They show us that mortality is not a deadline but a continuum. We will die, but we will also cry, and shout, and love, and dance, and live on. Sunset is just the beginning, and Igusti will guide us into the next morning."
—Teta Alim, D.C.-based journalist and founder of Buah Zine
“Igusti's work asks what is the metaphysical conceit of the cut? from whom or what are we cut? what are the rules of being cut & the life after? when they cut they cut the american light with their brown flicker, they incise the language, they puncture a privilege, & they work with inherited blood. This is a play of radical vulnerability around the self, a play of no games.”
—Trace DePass, author of Self Portrait As the Space Between Us