Ugly Music By Diannely Antigua

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Beautiful, aching collection of family, memory, faith, desire wrought with violence, sadness, sweet honesty. Antigua’s approach is stereophonic, strung with little lights of hope and love. Her voice is clear, singular, versed and chorused. Her poems are a gift, honey-golden and wishing to be tasted. Diannely Antigua An absolute must read in contemporary poetry. Here is an example of a form known as a Golden Shovel:

Golden Shovel with Solstice
by Diannely Antigua

after Gwendolyn Brooks and Terrance Hayes

When we found her sex positions book, we
didn't think it was real.

My mother wasn't cool
enough for sex. We

flipped through the pages, turning left,
studying where each body fit in this school,

the detailed figures of the man and woman, the parts we
hid under cotton, kept from the lurk-

ing skin, a hand, a finger, the late-
night moon with its borrowed light. We

lay our bodies on the bed, to strike
the pose, mimic the face down, the ass out straight.

We laughed and snorted, we
looked like pigs, sing-

ing oinks, our faces in the trough, this sin.
I don't want to say what we did next, that we

touched our own bodies, thin
arms reaching to what bits of hair we'd grown, the begin-

ing of a secret thing, or that we
reached for each other, a fumbled jazz

of grips, on this solstice in June.
If today, I could replay our hands' song, we

would deny its music, when we each die-
d a little on that bed, notes ending too soon. Diannely Antigua Antigua's collection tugs at your gut, asking you to re-evaluate the way you think about language, sex, and prayer. A powerful reading experience.

you’re just another
locust in a swarm of
other locusts you’re Pharoah or Moses
in one bed dreaming of basket
babies praying to God
you weren’t the firstborn Diannely Antigua In Ugly Music, Diannely Antigua strips away the ugly parts of what it means to be human, examining each with a precise eye and uncanny lyricism. Girlhood and womanhood are reduced to their beautiful and vulgar particulars. Faith meets heresy as erotic, romantic, and familial love thread through the book. Antigua takes the aspects of femininity women and girls are often punished for and polishes them until they sing. Diannely Antigua I was getting more stressed with every poem I read because I knew I was getting closer to the end, and that’s not where I ever wanted to be. Diannely Antigua

Certainly visceral and gripping, with special attention paid to the more grotesque aspects of femininity, this collection of poetry follows the narrator along an increasingly troubled life full of faith, family, depression, and sex. That being said, the format was at times confusing and difficult to piece together — the lack of chronology made the narrator’s motives and emotions hard to string together. However, it was in all a fascinating study both of what it means to be a woman in the modern world and what it means to feel without control over one’s own life. Diannely Antigua A collection of poems about survival, sexuality, identity, loss, desire, and the body.

from Re-Education: There is a truth in this magic— / the tie I took Plan B, then / the other time I took Plan B. I bled / for two months. There could've been / a mother in me.

from Post-Concussion: But I cried anyway / and wondered who'd saved us, / if we'd been saved at all, / if somewhere we were burning blue and orange, the peaks / of fire like crayon leaf rubbings, the paper, / the veins, or some celestial child / discovering flame, magnifying glass held high above, / smoke rising from our hearts.

from When I Try to Explain: you / sat in a hospital bed throwing up charcoal // because you took too much of something / with your name on it. Sometimes you grow // allergic to the morning and how it greets you / with painful welcome, a smile from // a lover who'd found someone new. Diannely Antigua These poems are beautiful, rebellious pieces of art. There is a wildness to this collection—a woman negotiating memories of abuse, miscarriage, sex, religion and identity with honesty and grace. Ugly Music is written in seven parts—verse, chorus, verse, chorus, bridge, chorus, outro. The sequencing is perfect and I was struck by the careful arrangement of stanza breaks and spacing, especially in “Some Notes on Love.” I cannot recommend this collection enough. I read it, I cried, then I read it again. Out loud. Diannely Antigua I love this book! See my review of it at Muzzle Magazine:
Diannely Antigua This book is erotic and comedic, brimming with so much (love, hate, potential, all the et ceteras). I didn’t anticipate the feelings this book would stir within me. Each poem starts you off so strong, with an end that is just as potent and lingering. You are a force, Antigua. Diannely Antigua

Diannely Antigua’s debut collection Ugly Music is a cacophonous symphony of reality, dream, trauma, and obsession. It reaches into the corners of love and loss where survival and surrender are blurred. The poems span a traumatic early childhood, a religious adolescence, and later a womanhood that grapples with learning how to create an identity informed by, yet in spite of, those challenges. What follows is an exquisitely vulgar voice, unafraid to draw attention to the distasteful, to speak a truth created by a collage of song and confession, diary and praise. It is an account of observation and dissociation, the danger of simultaneously being inside and outside the experiences that mold a life. Ugly Music emerges as a story of witness, a realization that even the strangest things exist on earth and deserve to live. Ugly Music