The Operating System

OS Celebrates Women’s History Month, Pt 1 :: Caits Meissner’s “Homegirl Manifesto”

For Women’s History Month 2017, I wanted to highlight some of the wholly original, challenging, sometimes heartbreaking work published on the OS by Women in the last few years. To further encourage celebration, you are invited during the month of march to purchase any of the *17* books in our catalog by women for a 20% discount (entered at checkout) using the code “THEFUTUREISFEMALE”.

We begin this celebration with Caits Meissner’s poetry comic, “Homegirl Manifesto”, from her hybrid debut volume, Let it Die Hungry, released by the OS in Fall 2016. We’ve just now heard that Caits received honorable mention for Split This Rock’s “Freedom Plow” Award for Poetry & Activism! (Our own JP Howard is a finalist as well! more from JP later this month…

ONWARD! – Lynne DeSilva-Johnson

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Contrary to the book’s title, Let It Die Hungry is a collection of poems bursting with life. Recklessly sensual, provocative and profoundly curious, Meissner’s coming-of-age poems seek to anchor their place in a messy world, blurring the edges of hard borders and disparate identities. Finding joy, connection and determination in desperate spaces, as well as the slippery terrain of a changing self, Meissner’s voice is at once a reckoning, a proclamation, and an open question. Sprinkled with the author’s illustrations, the book’s multidisciplinary approach also includes lesson plans, originally utilized in a women’s prison, that invite the reader to write their own way out of polarizing dichotomies — and into the vast grey space of what it means to be alive.

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“Caits Meissner’s ‘Let it Die Hungry’ is a stunningly potent archive of surviving. In poems, drawings, notes, and workbook-style experiments, Meissner generously shares her tools of becoming while simultaneously reinventing what a book of poems might be. In each of these modes it is clear: Meissner believes in the powers of seeing, testifying, and saying what is most difficult. Running through the blood of this book I hear Audre Lorde’s charge in “The Transformation of SIlence Into Language and Action”: “Your silence will not protect you.” From lyric narratives to achingly lucid prose, this book is ardor-medicine against oblivion. These poems “[spill] past the heart’s armor.” – Aracelis Girmay

“In this collection dedicated to the women poets of Afghanistan that concludes with a poem for the women poets at Bedford Hills Correctional Facility, Caits Meissner writes with great urgency of lives and landscapes scarred by conflict and pain. But even as her rangy, associative poems take us into terrain of turmoil, her compassion for her subjects offers the possibility of reconciliation through the very recognition that poems provide.”
— David Groff, author of Clay

Two poems from the book are here [Learning to Orgasm and What Is Real]: http://www.duendeliterary.org/caits-meissner

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CAITS MEISSNER’s poetry has been awarded first place prizes from the Pan-African Literary Forum, the Ja-Nai Foundation and City College’s The Jerome Lowell DeJur Prize in Creative Writing for a significant manuscript in poetry. Widely published in journals and anthologies including Drunken Boat, The Offing, The Literary Review and The Feminist Wire, Caits’ book, The Letter All Your Friends Have Written You, co-written with poet Tishon Woolcock, arrived in 2012 on Well&Often press. Let It Die Hungry, her first solo full-length collection of poems is forthcoming on The Operating System. Caits experiments with illustrated poems, and has collaborated extensively with musicians— her own poetry/music EP, the wolf & me, was released in 2010. She is currently Writer in Residence at Bronx Academy of Letters, a creative writing instructor in a women’s prison and a part-time lecturer at The New School University.

Part 2 of this series continues, with an excerpt from Stephanie Heit’s The Color She Gave Gravity, as well as a conversation with the poet and dancer about her practice.

2 Comments

  1. […] out Part 1 of this series, an excerpt of Caits Meissner’s poetry comic “Homegirl Manifesto,” from her collection, Let it Die […]

  2. […] out Part 1 of this series, with Caits Meissner, author of  Let it Die Hungry, and Part 2, with Stephanie Heit, author of The Color She Gave […]

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