Through The New Body by Isabella DeSendi

Edition: 500 copies of the winning books were printed by the Prolific Group and designed by Gabriele Wilson, with covers by Dan Funderburgh.


DeSendi’s poetry is generous. It tells you where you are, even when that where is a space of limbo....We are in limbo, because we are in the world in the body of a girl-becoming-woman, an American with Cuban matrilineage, a sufferer who causes suffering. Autobiographical or not, these poems give us a figure who seeks to understand her own distress in relation to that experienced by women of different ages and backgrounds.

—Evie Shockley

Isabella DeSendi

Isabella DeSendi is a Cuban-Italian poet and educator whose work has been published in Narrative, Leveler, Small Orange, Two Peach, The Ekphrastic Review, and The Grief Diaries. She was recently selected as a finalist for The 2019 Frontier Digital Poetry Chapbook contest judged by Jericho Brown, and has also been named a finalist for the June Jordan Fellowship and Narrative Magazine’s Annual Poetry Prize. Isabella is the recipient of a New York State Summer Writers Institute Fellowship and holds an MFA in Poetry from Columbia University in New York City where she currently resides and works in finance.

America’s First Female Muslim Judge Found Floating In A River

for Sheila Abdus-Salaam

In April we will find her body.
It is March. New York is gray, in-between
seasons like a heart undecided
between new love and loss.
No one knows why we will have found her
here, the dark truth of her body rising
up from underwater. Last night, while I was walking
down Broadway, some man across the street
called me a nappy-haired spic. Near the river
cherry blossoms ripen pink as wounds
against the sky. I can’t believe
what we do to each other. Snow turns to fog
turns to dust over the branches. In ten, fifty, two hundred years
who will believe us when we say
the Earth was a hopeless chant, any man
was our captor. If I’m alive then I’m ashamed
of my mouth, silent as a thief. The man on my street corner
who begs for change, whom I choose
not to see. No one’s life is the problem. The problem is a poet
can’t always lay down in words a feeling
they know they’ll never forget. When they say
I shouldn’t feel powerless I agree, but many times
I’ve stood at the lip of this river
and wanted to crawl in.
The M60 rolling past me, kicking up muck. Maybe
the problem with the living isn’t their sorrow,
it’s that they’re still capable
of violence. The feeling I can’t forget is similar to flowers
falling quiet as knives
on the spring-punched street when they pull out
my body by the hair, and she lives.

More chapbooks

Here I am O My God

Dujie Tahat

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Other Small Histories

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You Should Feel Bad

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Through The New Body

Isabella DeSendi

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