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Where the words end and my body begins

Where the words end and my body begins

By Amber Dawn
Categories: LGBTQ+, Lesbian Literature, Poetry, Women's Literature
Paperback : 9781551525839, 94 pages, 2015
Read Excerpt (PDF)


The first full-length poetry book by the Lambda Literary and Vancouver Book Award Winner.

Finalist, Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize

Award-winning writer Amber Dawn reveals a gutsy lyrical sensibility in her debut poetry collection: a suite of glosa poems written as an homage to and an interaction with queer poets,
such as the legendary Gertrude Stein, Christina Rossetti, and Adrienne Rich, as well as contemporaries like Leah Horlick, Rachel Rose, and Trish Salah. (Glosas, a 15th-century Spanish form, typically open with a quatrain from an existing poem by another writer, followed by four stanzas of ten lines each, and usually end with a line repeated from the opening quatrain. )

By doing so, Amber Dawn delves deeper into the themes of trauma, memory, and unblushing sexuality that define her work.


  • Short-listed, Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize (BC Book Prizes) 2016


A rich, rewarding set of stories about queer identity, surviving abuse, sex positivity and personal identity. -Autostraddle

Fearless, raw, and sassy, Dawn's glosas speak to female survival through all its nasty incarnations -- depression, abuse, subjugation, marginalization. Her poems hit the pavement running and they are loud with truth-telling and raging. -Vancouver Sun

Amber Dawn rebuilds her glosa poems by constructing them on quotations from queer, gender-creative, feminist, and/or survivor writers. Dawn uses repetition as a method of regeneration to revitalize the seemingly strict structures of the glosa form and to transform her poems into something powerful and subversive. -CV2

You'll be sweetened, entranced and scared in equal measure by Amber Dawn's glosas. This is a wordsmith at the height of her powers. You'll have to read these again and again, just to be sure the gorgeous is real. -Jane Eaton Hamilton, author of Love Will Burst into a Thousand Shapes and Hunger

In this collection, Amber Dawn reveals much about how art can help us rise from the ashes of trauma, whether what we know is addiction, abuse or the cost of being unapologetically queer. -Daily Xtra

The natural world may be traditional subject matter and the glosa form may be over six centuries old, but Amber Dawn effectively uses both to enrich the present with the past, reminding us to always remember our roots. -subTerrain

Revel in the way Amber Dawn's hard femme survivor poetics create testimony bridges between queer survivor poets then and now, mapping a cartography you can tuck in your pocket, reminding you of where we've been. -Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha, author of The Revolution Starts At Home: Confronting Intimate Violence In Activist Communities and Love Cake

Highly political yet non-dogmatic, these poems are a reminder of what really matters: community. Amber Dawn positions herself in the context of a long line of artists, poets, and activists who matter to her. -Plenitude

In your face, yet tightly, beautifully crafted . .. A bravura performance -- an insightful reading for poetry lovers and more. -Library Journal