American Library Association Rainbow List 2016
Finalist, Lambda Literary Award 2016
Finalist, Judy Grahn Award , Publishing Triangle 2016
In 1996, poet Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha, carrying only two backpacks, caught a Greyhound bus in America and ran away to Canada. She ended up in Toronto, where she was welcomed by a community of queer punks of colour offering promises of love and revolution, yet she remained haunted by the reasons she left home in the first place. This passionate, riveting memoir is a mixtape of dreams and nightmares, of immigration court lineups and queer South Asian dance nights; it is an intensely personal road map and an intersectional, tragicomic tale that reveals how a disabled queer woman of colour and abuse survivor navigates the dirty river of the not-so-distant past and, as the subtitle suggests, "dreams her way home."
Praise for Dirty River:
Fierce and seductive. Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha is the kind of writer who reminds us with every turn of phrase and every turn of the page that art exorcises trauma, running can be good medicine, and the freedom to be our very own freaks is the happiest ending we might ever hope for. —Ariel Gore, author of The End of Eve and Atlas of the Human Heart
"Dirty River will give you back the life you stole and saved: your own. In the tradition of June Jordan's Soldier, Audre Lorde's Zami, Asha Bandele's Something Like Beautiful, and Staceyann Chin's The Other Side of Paradise, Dirty River is a memoir that will make you itch all over while you read it and emerge having shed another layer of internalized doubt. You are brave enough to face this honest, transformative work, because you are brave enough to be who you are." —Alexis Pauline Gumbs, co-editor of Revolutionary Mothering
"Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha's newest book is the powerful, badass, and important story of a young queer femme of color's coming of age on her own terms. Intersectional and glittering and raw, this book has bite—it's a kind of primal yell for all us survivors of abuse, as we pull together and howl and love and live." —Randa Jarrar, author of A Map of Home
Dirty River is a candid and comic view from the tattooed underbelly of contemporary life. There is no syrup in this survivor's tale, yet the sun does shine through these shadows, making you cheer for the hero(ine) in her odyssey to know her true self. —Jewelle Gomez, author of The Gilda Stories
Finalist, Audre Lorde Award, Publishing Triangle 2016
In Bodymap, Lambda Award-winner Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha sings a queer disabled femme-of-colour love song filled with hard femme poetics and disability justice. In this volume, Leah Lakshmi maps hard and vulnerable terrains of queer desire, survivorhood, transformative love, sick and disabled queer genius and all the homes we claim and deserve.
Praise for Bodymap:
“Leah’s side eye can cut you, but her maps to working class, disabled, queer Asian home girl medicine might also save your life. At the locus of social justice, documenting survival, and the joy of sex, here are love poems to Hondas and cedar plank shacks and fucking in places where we are hated. Leah is working and working it. Hurt is here, but so is survival, and all the joy and mascara running beauty it affords.”- Bao Phi, author, Sông I Sing
"These poems are a gift for your love for self, your love itself and everyone you love. It is rare that a poet priestess offers words that allow us to emerge reborn with dirt, glitter and tenderness... Revere it. Revel in it. Read it again and again!"
—Alexis Pauline Gumbs
"Bodymap uses the alchemy of the voice on the page to transform words into an ache in the pit of me. I want what these poems demand: to be free to love & die, to be resurrected in time, & to be restored by desire. Piepzna-Samarasinha has located where this body houses the smirk learned from the sidewalk, the reason to do the difficult, and the blessings for the best worst thing."
—Meg Day, author of Last Psalm at Sea Level
"Sharp, yet remarkably compassionate, Piepzna-Samarasinha knows that the poem is no place for tidy inquiry and easy answers. She offers her own tenacious guts and veins on each and every page. Only someone who understands rage and reconciliation and blood and bone can write like this."
—Amber Dawn, author of How Poetry Saved My Life: A Hustler’s Memoir and Sub Rosa
"Bodymap paints a portrait of crippled body sovereignty in a world that would rather isolate us until we disappear... The beauty of Bodymap is that it is written for us: crippled queers of color."- Cyree Jarelle Johnson, Deaf Poets Society.
The Revolution Starts At Home: Confronting Intimate Violence In Activist Communities
coedited with Ching-In Chen and Jai Dulani
The Revolution Starts at Home is as urgently needed today as when it was first published. This watershed collection breaks the dangerous silence surrounding the “secret” of intimate violence within social justice circles. Just as importantly, it provides practical strategies for dealing with abuse and creating safety without relying on the coercive power of the state. It offers life-saving alternatives for survivors, while building a movement where no one is left behind.
Praise for The Revolution Starts at Home:
“My joy and gratitude at the original publication of Revolution Starts at Home is now only exceeded by my excitement in the reprinting of this essential text. If we are to build visionary communities rooted not only in resistance but also in love, we need this book, and books like it, for survival. It is as simple as that.” Walidah Imarisha, author of Angels with Dirty Faces: Three Stories of Crime, Prison, and Redemption
“This book has brought me back from the brink of desperation many times. Its creative, real-world stories of interrupting intimate partner violence without using police or social services strengthens our community, builds our collective imagination, celebrates our resiliency, and pushes us to hone our practice. I keep a stockpile of this book on my shelf for gifting—it's required reading for justice seekers. —Shira Hassan, founder and principle consultant for Just Practice.
“The editors of The Revolution Starts at Home have provided a landmark resource: an anthology by and for survivors of sexual assault lead by editors of color, all three of whom are revolutionary leaders seeking to deconstruct the structures that uphold violence in activist communities. For anyone who believes that the personal is deeply political in social justice circles, The Revolution Starts at Home is a must-read.”- Allison McCarthy, Ms Magazine
“The Revolution Starts at Home is a mirror to look into when doing the work of 'transforming ourselves to transform the world', as Grace Lee Boggs taught us. The voices in this collection speak from their own experiences, modeling vulnerability that, for me, was freeing as I turned to face the patterns of personal and organizational abuse in my life. This book is an offer towards wholeness, and can heal you if you let it.” —adrienne maree brown, co-editor of Octavia’s Brood: Science Fiction Stories from Social Justice Movements
“The book isn't just about how social services and state intervention can leave already vulnerable communities more at risk when it comes to addressing interpersonal violence; the personal essays, real-world testaments, and tools provided…are about taking transformative justice to the next level and creating community and self-accountability.” —Kjerstin Johnson, Bitch Magazine