I love the play of the biological, anatomical, and marine references and the mixed references to geography and Christianity with the most subtle eroticism, “writing notes with her other hand: desire.” For the poem is desire, and is sometimes the fulfillment of desire. But also end, loss, death as the body gives itself back to where it was born–perhaps.
—Cheryl Clarke, Fall 2014 Orlando Poetry Finalist Judge
Congratulations to Denise Leto on the selection of her poem, “Lake as Body,” for the Fall 2014 Orlando Poetry Prize! “Lake as Body” will be published in Issue No. 17 of the Los Angeles Review.
We asked Denise to talk about her piece and to tell us what publication means to her. She replied:
“Lake as Body” encompasses language as a landscape of mourning, the transfiguration and dis-location of the female body, female desire, connection and disconnection to the natural world, to culture, and to its manifestation in the internal world where voice is moored and unmoored. For me, it also means a sinuous, changing connection with my experiences of genealogy and geography (of Sicily and California), exile and return, death and loss.
Publication is collaboration with readers, other writers, and artists. Publication can mean visibility for the otherwise invisible. It is a powerful, conscious act of culture creation. This conversation always makes my writing better: it is an interaction with the world outside of my own thinking.
Denise Leto was awarded a Poetry Fellowship in Sicily from the Bread Loaf Writer’s Conference in 2014. Recent work involved a cross-genre collaboration and performance piece with cellist/composer Joan Jeanrenaud and choreographer Cid Pearlman entitled Your Body is Not a Shark. Denise wrote the book of poems/libretto published by North Beach Press.Waveform, her collaborative chapbook with Amber DiPietra, which explored the poetics of disability, was published by Kenning Editions. She was an artist in residence at the University of New Mexico, the University of Michigan, Djerassi, and was the Featured Poet at Kelsey Street Press Blog for August 2014. Denise was co-editor of the journal Sinister Wisdom’s special issue on Italian American Women Writers.