Love Cake



San Francisco, CA
United States
California US

“I read a lot of poetry in 2011 as I was working on my own collection, looking at other contemporary poets’ books to see how they make the poems work together, how the poems hold together, or fail to cohere, or purposely resist easy cohesion. Despite this analytic approach, of course I fell in love with poems and poets along the way. My favorite and perhaps the bravest book I read was Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha's Love Cake (TSAR, 2011). First of all, it’s such a great title—it’s so evocative and also the name of a dessert from the poet’s father’s ancestral land, Sri Lanka. Samarasinha’s known to San Francisco and Toronto area audiences as a firebrand, a self-described ‘femme shark,’ a performance artist who’s just as likely to be at an Occupy protest as on stage. So the poems have that up-to-the-moment timely feeling, but also go back through the history of colonization and ancient roots—for example, there’s a prayer to Oshun that references earrings from H&M. (Right!?) Sometimes I find that performance poetry doesn't hold up on the page, but Samarasinha's really does. I adore the tight rhymes and deep passions and the way the poems move from grief and trauma to hot sex to a poignant image, so fast and smooth and gorgeous. These poems work across identities and oceans ‘to document, to sing / to remember, insist / to incite, to call: peace, peace.’”

Minal Hajratwala