Moon Woman and don’t get your hopes up is a double chapbook set to be released this year from Thoughtcrime Press. This innovative volume offers readers the opportunity to delight in each individual collection and invites them to consider the interplay between the two very different, very powerful voices of Fatima-Ayan Malika Hirsi and courtney marie. The poems in this dual collection share particular concerns: the body, desire, relationships, identity. Both voices take risks, make confessions, and raise big questions.
Moon Woman / don’t get your hopes up
by Fatima-Ayan Malika Hirsi / courtney marie
Thoughtcrime Press (2018)
The speaker in Moon Woman establishes the ethereal, ambivalent mood in the opening poem, telling us, “I travel between worlds and forget / I am beholden to a body” (Moon Music I). The speaker grapples desires that are at once earthly and transcendent: sex, spiritual gratification, motherhood. The collection contains so many surprises, including a particular favorite of mine, impolite mythology, a concrete poem I highly recommend you read in its entirety over at Spiderweb Salon. As a teacher, I am always telling students that a poem doesn’t have to be “pretty” (read: flowers and sunshine) to be beautiful. Hirsi’s poem Disrepair illustrates this idea perfectly. The speaker’s body is “a used refrigerator” taken by “boys / who never learned to clean” to sit in a “filthy / kitchen where [her] underbelly / becomes home to families // of roaches… [that] crawl up / [her] deepest parts and lay eggs // that never hatch.” These gritty, visceral moments are balanced by truly gorgeous language in other pieces: “how when my body blooms / the air in the room holds no secrets / I breathe in / I think of you” (nature with you).
The speaker don’t get your hopes up is similarly ambivalent. courtney marie’s poems are searching, vivid, and aching. In the opening poem, the speaker says “i can tell you the correct way to fix something / is not to bend it slowly / back and forth in opposite directions / until it snaps,” and later, “when i think of love / i think of a marble / i keep losing and finding again in odd places” (how to not). This poem sets the tone for our speaker: self-aware, attempting connection, battling against self-destruction. You should totally read it in its entirety over at Storm Cellar. I find the address to the you throughout the collection particularly powerful, like in dead dog creek, when the speaker says, “i told you i felt like a stranger here, everywhere.” I am also drawn to the dark humor of lines like “this is fun // it is excellent / to be terrified // to realize // i am the monster” (haunted). The poems in this collection ask us so many questions: what does it mean to reckon with the self? how do you live in a haunted place? how does anyone love anyone else?
As a member of the same local poetry community as these two writers, I can say that the experience of reading this book is much like attending a reading where they feature together, and I am damn glad there’s a book in the world that evokes that feeling.
Logen Cure is a queer poet and professor. She curates Inner Moonlight, the monthly podcast reading series for The Wild Detectives in Dallas. She's an editor for Voicemail Poems. She earned her MFA in Creative Writing from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Her debut full-length poetry collection, Welcome to Midland (Deep Vellum Publishing, 2021) was shortlisted for the Reading the West Book Awards. She lives in Dallas-Fort Worth. Learn more at www.logencure.com.