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Jennifer Givhan

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Jennifer Givhan

Jennifer Givhan grew up in Southern California’s Imperial Valley. She received an MFA from Warren Wilson College and an MA in English literature from California State University–Fullerton. She is the author of Protection Spell (University of Arkansas Press, 2017), selected by Billy Collins for inclusion in the Miller Williams Series, and Landscape with Headless Mama (Louisiana State University Press, 2016), winner of the 2015 Pleiades Editors’ Prize. Givhan has received a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship and a PEN/Rosenthal Emerging Voices fellowship. She currently serves as the poetry editor of Tinderbox Poetry Journal and lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

by this poet


“It’s time you learn to scrub a chicken.”
    Mama rarely cooked after working all day—her heart wasn’t in it.
But a daughter should know how to sterilize

that pink, ominous cavern before she flew
    away to salt her own kitchens: pry its legs apart


First war       She polishes the spine of her own
flesh       Tethered nerve      strangling cord       She

burial mounds       She rituals       She
corn stalks in rustling fields       Nothing tribe

nothing sex       Rock for riverbed       Notched
with flint       Second war       She


*To gradually steal all the possessions out of a neighbour’s house by borrowing & not returning —Anjana Iyer

Your mother slaps a frenzy of honey on her plain soft bread
asking where the toaster’s gone & where’s her thieving