Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha (she/they) is a queer disabled nonbinary femme writer and cultural worker of Burger/ Tamil Sri Lankan and Irish/ Roma ascent. The author of Dirty River: A Queer Femme of Color Dreaming Her Way Home (Publishing Triangle and Lambda Award 2016 finalist, American Library Association Stonewall Award 2016), Bodymap (Audre Lorde Poetry Award Finalist, Publisher's Triangle), Love Cake (Lambda Award winner 2012) and Consensual Genocide, she is also, with Ching-In Chen and Jai Dulani, co-editor of The Revolution Starts At Home: Confronting Intimate Violence in Activist Communities (AK Press 2016.) Her work has been widely published and anthologized, most recently in The Deaf Poets Society, Glitter and Grit and Octavia's Brood, and including work in the anthologies Dear Sister, Undoing Border Imperialism, Stay Solid, Persistence: Still Butch and Femme, Yes Means Yes, Visible: A Femmethology, Homelands, Colonize This, We Don’t Need Another Wave, Bitchfest, Without a Net, Dangerous Families, Brazen Femme, Femme and A Girl’s Guide to Taking Over The World. A VONA fellow, she holds a MFA from MIlls College. In 2010 she was named one of the Feminist Press' 40 Feminists Under 40 Shaping the Future and she is a 2013 Autostraddle Hot 105 member.
Currently a lead artist with the disability justice performance collective Sins Invalid, she teaches, performs and lectures across North America. Leah co-founded and co-directed Mangos With Chili, North America's longest running queer and trans people of color performance art tour, from 2005-1015, and co founded Toronto' Asian Arts Freedom School. Her new book of essays, Care Work: Dreaming Disability Justice is forthcoming in fall 2018 from Arsenal Pulp Press. Raised in Worcester, MA, she divides her time between T'karonto and South Seattle, rooted in rust belt resilience, diasporic aerial roots and dirty water.
For bookings, interviews or other inquires, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
"Dominant culture dresses survivors in a thin costume of pitiful heroism, often reducing intersectional identities and diversity of healing strategies. But Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha knows the multifarious textures of survivor skins... Her desire penetrates far deeper than reductive “happy endings.” And her memoir will surely become a lasting body of wisdom for anyone who yearns to holistically embrace our own survivor stories."- Amber Dawn
“Piepzna-Samarasinha offers us a collective roadmap for living untamed, uncategorizable lives.”- Bitch
"(Dirty River) serves as a queer, disabled, punk of color manifesto that forces readers to open doors and go to places that have long been shut tight... If you are looking for an incredible book that is unlike anything else you have ever read, pick up Dirty River. You can thank me later." - Manjeet Birk, Herizons
"(Leah's work) paints a portrait of crippled body sovereignty in a world that would rather isolate us until we disappear." - Cyree Jarelle Johnson, Deaf Poets Society
“Leah's poems are rebel songs and love songs that bear witness and fight back - as miraculous, as mean, as stunning as every queer brown girl who survives." -Qwo-Li Driskill, author of Walking with Ghosts: Poems
"With memorable references to Cherrie Moraga, bell hooks and Sonia Sanchez... Piepzna-Samarasinha's writing should be shelved right beside them." - Allison McCarthy, Bitch Magazine.
"Once I picked up Love Cake, I could not put it down until I finished every poem, even though I sometimes had to read through my tears... The gift of this poetry collection is nothing less than a roadmap to what liberation can look like for queer people who survive personal and collective trauma." -Wendy Elisheva Somerson, Tikkun
winter/spring 2018 performances/ keynotes in syracuse, tacoma, socal, flagstaff, portland and philly.
Dirty River included in Room Magazine's 30 Books by 30 Queer Canadian Writers list.
To Exist Is To Resist: Sick and Disabled QTPOC Ancestors and Futures premiers at Gay City Arts, Seattle.
"old-ass femmes who will outlives the apocalypse" in The Body Is Not An Apology's Silence Every Lie
"all the femmes come back" in Femmescapes Volume 3
"crip infinity" in Anomaly: Glitterbrain, a folio of writing by neurodivergent qtpoc writers.
Stacey Milbern and myself in conversation with Alice Wong of Disability Visibility Project on the DVP blog about disabled femmes of color and care/ crip labor.
fall 2017 gigs in seattle, bowdoin, amherst, UC Davis and CSU San Marcos
"femme futures" and "crip fairy godmother" in Hematopoesis issue #2: INFECTION
"dreaming with the ancestor's: toronto's asian arts freedom school 2004-2007marvellousgrounds.com/blog/dreaming-with-our-ancestors-the-asian-arts-freedom-school/" in Marvellous Grounds
new article about community archiving in The Peak's Honouring Legacies Fall 2017 issue
My "A Modest Proposal for a Fair Trade Emotional Labor Economy" article is on Bitch, and the Bitch magazine podcast!
Sounds Like Fire: Femme4Femme performance with Amber Dawn, Kai Cheng Thom and Kama La Mackarel, Verses Festival, Vancouver/ Coast Salish Territories, April 25, 2017
new writing classes online announced for 2017
Adept: A Sick and Disabled Queer Show premiers at Gay City, Calamus Theater, Seattle, WA! Tickets still available for Saturday January 28, 2017.
New fall 2016 tour dates: Portland, Sins Invalid, Oakland, Baltimore, Western MA, San Francisco, Hugo House Seattle.
New reviews of Bodymap and Dirty River in Herizons, Deaf Poets Society, Make/Shift and Room
Leah performing in Sins Invalid's October 2016 show, Birthing, Dying, Becoming Crip Wisdom.
Leah reads work on PBS Newshour
New writing featured in The Deaf Poet's Society
Bodymap included on Autostraddle Crip Lit Syllabus
Bodymap and Dirty River Both Finalists for Publishing Triangle Awards
Dirty River finalist for Lambda Award for Lesbian Memoir
Leah included in The Body Is Not An Apology's 10 Queer and Non-Binary People of Color Using Art and Media to Get Free.
"Messy, Beautiful Queers" A Review of Dirty River and The Argonauts in Bitch Magazine
New Tour Dates: Portland, Tucson, New York, Ottawa, more
"Don't Date Anyone Who Treats You Like Shit, Even A Little" An appreciation by Kai Chang on Autostraddle
Autostraddle reviews Dirty River
Dirty River makes Vancouver Sun Top 20 Books of 2015
Leah makes Colorlines 15 Women of Color Who Rocked 2015
Fuck “The Triumph of the Human Spirit”: On Writing Dirty River, Queer Disabled Femme of Color Memoir and The Joys Of Saying Fuck You to Traditional Abuse Survivor Narratives- blog post on Third Woman Press
Dirty River makes Autostraddle Top 10 Queer and Feminist books of 2015
Dirty River reviewed in Globe and Mail:"a biracial-abuse-survivor-queer-femme-working-class-immigrant-anarchist-punk bomb exploding this myth of LGBT sameness...a kind of oral history and love letter to Toronto as it was in a weedier, less shiny time."
Dirty River reviewed on Lambda Literary Review, November 15 2015
Bodymap reviewed by Hermana Resist Press
Vancouver Sun reviews Dirty River: " In rapid fire, intensely felt and perfectly controlled prose, the activist/poet/survivor evokes the terrors and pleasures of life in the pockets of counter culture, gender rebellion and anti-racist groups she found in Toronto ... The authorial voice is propulsive, eloquent and absolutely persuasive. "
Dirty River October Dates Announced: New York, Toronto, Peterborough, Ottawa, Montreal
Applications Open, Hard Femme Poetics Workshop, September 2015
Feministing Reads: Bodymap by Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha, July 24 2015
Sweet Blossoms Out Of the Crater: A Review of Bodymap, Tikkun, July 20, 2015
Dirty River Makes CBC's Fall 2015 Book Preview, July 10, 2015
All That You Touch, You Change: A Conversation with Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha, Bitch Media Interview, June 24 2015
Autostraddle Read A F*cking Book Review: Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha is Living Her Truths in “Bodymap”May 5, 2015