When does a girl learn to make a fist?
————————-from “After Killing Thousands of Angels”
A woman’s strength—the strength to defend herself, to define herself and to accept herself—is explored again and again in Emari DiGiorgio’s poetry. Reflecting on childhood memories, world events and pop culture phenomena, her poetry confronts and challenges ideas about being a woman. To say that DiGiorgio’s poetry is “feminist” is true, but such labeling fails to acknowledge the breadth of her interests and investigations. . Her poems also tell the stories of other marginalized individuals and groups, people who may be in some way unseen: the citizens of Iraq caught in the crossfire of the war; a group of children playing in a Mexican slum. With a little fight and a little sass, these narratives give the reader a way to connect with their own humanity and sense of justice.
“1434 dead” memorializes the loss of life in Gaza by interspersing the names of the dead into a description of a typical U.S. neighborhood:
…how can I live on this quiet block
Sa’ad trash on Tuesdays Mohammed meals-on-wheels
for the woman across the street Sharaf today just past
noon Hakim the truck stops parks the driver ascends
her stairs Ma’moun she’s ninety…
In this poem, and many others, the speaker is surrounded—literally or metaphorically—by the subjects of the poem and is something of a traveler even in her own home or neighborhood. For the reader, the distance between self and subject is diminished, which offers the chance to experience compassion for people who might otherwise be out of reach.
In addition to her ability to open the readers’ heart, DiGiorgio’s poetry brings great delight and satisfaction with its verve and gutsiness. In poems that speak of women’s oppression, and women’s power, she confronts issues with a tough, observant and always confident voice. The following passage from “Origami Woman” illustrates this perfectly:
Turn her over now. Lick your thumb
and smooth her edges. She’s easier
to manage this way. It’s hard to turn a woman
inside out, but it can be done. Hurry—
should the wind pick up and she catch air.
As a Dodge Poet, Emari Di Giorgio has connected with students in our High School Mini Festivals. We look forward to welcoming her to the 2012 Festival.
To see pairings of DiGiorgio’s work with visual arts see: http://www.escapeintolife.com/poetry/emari-digiorgio/
Please use the “Comments” box below to share other resources you may have found for this poet. In this way, we can build together a mini-wiki-encyclopedia on the 2012 Festival Poets.
For more information on the 2012 Dodge Poetry Festival and Program,
visit our website dodgepoetry.org