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How Poetry Saved My Life: A Hustler’s Memoir

Amber Dawn (Arsenal Pulp)

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I can say without a doubt that Amber Dawn is the only author I’ve ever read who’s quoted Sylvia Plath while using a Sharpie to colour in the scuff marks on her Value Village stripper pumps. She’s also one of the bravest voices I’ve ever heard. How Poetry Saved My Life is an undeniably intense and important collection of prose and verse in which Dawn, a former sex worker, details her claw from the streets to speech. Her poems have the distinct orality of spoken word---there are profound silences here, unorthodox white spaces, and chilling visuals. But there is also love. As a LGBT rights activist, Dawn refuses to be victimized, and her work speaks for her. Much like her novel Sub Rosa, this book is dripping with as much sexuality as purpose. She gives voice to a mostly invisible population, and that voice will shatter you.

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