Waking After the Surgery

Leila Chatti

And just like that, I was whole again,seam like a drawing of an eyelid closed,gauze resting atop it like a bedof snow laid quietly in the nightwhile I was somewhere or somethingelse, not quite dead but nearly, freer,my self unlatched for a while as if it werea dog I had simply released from its leashor a balloon slipped loose from my gripin a room with a low ceiling, my lifebouncing back within reach, my lifebounding toward me when called.

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Leila Chatti is a Tunisian-American poet and author of Deluge (Copper Canyon Press, 2020) and the chapbooks Ebb (Akashic Books, 2018) and Tunsiya/Amrikiya, the 2017 Editors’ Selection from Bull City Press. Her honors include a Pushcart Prize, grants from the Barbara Deming Memorial Fund and the Helene Wurlitzer Foundation, and fellowships from the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, the Wisconsin Institute for Creative Writing, and Cleveland State University, where she was the inaugural Anisfield-Wolf Fellow in Publishing and Writing. She is currently pursuing a PhD in creative writing at the University of Cincinnati, where she is a Provost Fellow. Her poems appear in The New York Times Magazine, Ploughshares, Tin House, American Poetry Review, and elsewhere.  

“To write a series of poems out of extreme illness is a bracing accomplishment indeed. In Deluge...Leila Chatti, born of a Catholic mother and a Muslim father, brilliantly explores the trauma. In a frightening two-year saga of a tumor and the ‘flooding’ it caused, Chatti finds not disassociation but deeper association with her own experience.”
—Naomi Shihab Nye, The New York Times

“Chatti turns fear and shame into empowerment in her unflinching debut… [She] translates a gritty, traumatizing experience into a hypnotic, transcendental topography of the human spirit.”
Publishers Weekly, starred review

“Tunisian American poet Leila Chatti’s powerful collection of poems centers her faith, health, embodiment, shame and womanhood.”
Ms. Magazine

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