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.
“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
Poetry. Women’s Studies.
Leila Chatti is the author of the 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 Ebb (New-Generation African Poets) and TUNSIYA/AMRIKIYA, the 2017 Editors' Selection from Bull City Press. 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 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. She lives and writes in the Midwest.