The poems in The Things a Body Might Become explore body as weapon, sacrifice/offering, sex symbol, commerce, cartoon, flawed idol, victim, perpetrator, wreckage, and bridge/vessel. However, as much as this collection is about the body, it is also about the conflict of living in relative safety while the world is aflame and the speaker’s quest for belief–be it religious, spiritual, superstitious, political–and the making/creation of self. There is a hope for reclamation of the self and body, a taking back of power through force, surrender, and birth/rebirth.
THE THINGS A BODY MIGHT BECOME
Advance praise for The Things a Body Might Become:
To read these poems is to know without doubt that it’s no cliché: vulnerability is indeed strength – and strength, when given language, becomes a call to action. Fearless and unflinching, The Things a Body Might Become is both an ardent call to action and an action in and of itself. This collection leads the reader to do what is perhaps the most important work a person can do: to think – and think, and think again – about their actions and ideas, their betrayals and beliefs. In harrowingly gorgeous language, DiGiorgio examines the best and worst of what we make, do, and experience in our human bodies – love and lust, bullets and babies, harm and healing – with the valiant persistence and merciful patience necessary to lead us to understand and to see ourselves and our neighbors as human.
"Your manager / warns you: Please wear your uniform tomorrow. This is the last time I’m going to ask.” These lines from the title poem of Emari DiGiorgio’s bold debut collection The Things the Body Might Become are emblematic of the work as a whole. DiGiorgio tries on selves, the way one tries on clothes, and there is nothing more human than her discomfort with how they fit. As it turns out, the things a body might become include “An anvil, a bottle of bleach, a basketball,” or a container full of matchbooks. But what it becomes will not be contained or controlled — it is egregiously out of uniform — and I cheer on this poet, this voice, this body, as I make my way through this stellar book of poems.
Emari DiGiorgio asks “when does a girl learn to make a fist?”—a question that is echoed throughout the entirety of The Things a Body Might Become. This is a question that is still being answered in new ways across the globe. The Things a Body Might Become is a voyage around the world, which is another way to say it is a trip through the turmoil of inhabiting the feminine. These poems actively reject the notions of silence and shame that surround gendered violence, while at the same time becoming a tug-of-war that consistently reminds readers how living as anything other than the cis-male default offers little to no protection in the world “[because] a smile is provocation.” DiGiorgio masterfully centers what it is to live in a world hinged on gendered violence while providing lyrical, narrative arcs that carry readers across space and time.