Figment by Leila Chatti (hardcover)


by Leila Chatti

48 pages, limited-edition hardcover with embossed dust jacket
ISBN: 978-1-949344-36-3

release date: November 8, 2022

16 in stock

SKU: 978-1-949344-36-3 Categories: , Tags: , , , ,


In grief, language eludes, shifts, breaks down, betrays. Figment is an attempt to articulate the inarticulable, to glean meaning from scraps of language, and to see clearly that which exists just out of view. Through fragments and the abecedarian form, Leila Chatti parses the experience of pregnancy loss and the anguish of failed creation. Figment is a work of accumulation—words exist individually like dots of paint, which, when observed at a distance, reveal the larger subject.

“In Leila Chatti’s moving sequence of brief poems, Figment, she reminds us that it’s a poet’s imperative not just to care for what’s there—what’s seen, what’s sayable—but also to cultivate and suffer relationships with what’s beyond: the nothingness we’ll never know, a notion’s shadow, or ‘fiction with some // truth to it.’ In these abecedarian-inspired elegiac figment-fragments Chatti makes the ‘illegible ill / usion’ legible via the most basic of crisis forms, the alphabet: twenty-six letters with which to advance, an etymological map through an ‘amorphous / blank’ anguish. These vulnerably open invocations resolve themselves to no resolution; instead, they make tribute to the ‘terrible terrible tenderness’ of being in the ‘unbe’ and ‘unwas.’”
—Caryl Pagel, author of Out of Nowhere Into Nothing

“Leila Chatti’s Figment reminded me of Inger Christensen’s alphabet but a much sparser version. The sparseness in these poems mirror the fleeting spareness of a small body which once existed but no longer exists in physical form, but just memory and imagination. The main gesture, then, in Chatti’s apparitions is absence and thus what’s not on the page is equally as important as what’s on the page. In this way, this beautiful sequence is really exploring existentialism as a whole, mortality, and our limited time on this planet, as the poet writes: ‘faint yes brief / yes but here’ with no punctuation and floating on the page.”
—Victoria Chang, author of The Trees Witness Everything

“What comes after the desperate vulnerability of hope? The radiant candor of loss—’one good thing / undone.’ Leila Chatti’s language is a fruit unpeeling—’yesterwas / yondermost’—inviting us to taste it, draw it into our own mouths. Figment is one of our best young poets at the height of her powers.”
—Kaveh Akbar, author of Pilgrim Bell

Leila Chatti was born in 1990 in Oakland, California. A Tunisian-American dual citizen, she has lived in the United States, Tunisia, and Southern France. She is the author of the debut full-length collection Deluge (Copper Canyon Press, 2020), winner of the 2021 Levis Reading Prize, the 2021 Luschei Prize for African Poetry, and longlisted for the 2021 PEN Open Book Award, and the chapbooks Figment (Bull City Press), The Mothers (Slapering Hol Press), Ebb (New-Generation African Poets) and Tunsiya/Amrikiya, the 2017 Editors’ Selection from Bull City Press.

She holds a B.A. from the Residential College in the Arts and Humanities at Michigan State University and an M.F.A. from North Carolina State University, where she was awarded the Academy of American Poets Prize. She is the recipient of grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Barbara Deming Memorial Fund, and the Helene Wurlitzer Foundation of New Mexico, and fellowships and scholarships from the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, the Wisconsin Institute for Creative Writing, the Tin House Writers’ Workshop, the Kenyon Review Writers Workshop, the Sewanee Writers’ Conference, The Frost Place Conference on Poetry, the Key West Literary Seminars, Dickinson House, and Cleveland State University, where she was the inaugural Anisfield-Wolf Fellow in Writing and Publishing.

Her poems have received prizes from Ploughshares’ Emerging Writer’s Contest, Narrative’s 30 Below Contest, the Gregory O’Donoghue International Poetry Prize, and the Pushcart Prize, among others, and appear in The New York Times Magazine, the Academy of American Poets’ Poem-a-Day, POETRY, The Nation, The Atlantic, Ploughshares, Kenyon Review, Tin House, American Poetry Review, Narrative Magazine, and other journals and anthologies. In 2017, she was shortlisted for the Brunel International African Poetry Prize. She currently teaches in the low-residency MFA program at Pacific University and is the Grace Hazard Conkling Writer-in-Residence at Smith College.

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Weight .5 lbs


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