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Rendered “highly flammable” into a world of overwhelming social constructs, expectations, and historical legacies, Mya Matteo Alexice inhabits many things in A SHAPE WE’VE YET TO NAME. Refusing to be embodied the way others expect, they transgress, shapeshifting into realms of the celestial, the ancient, and beyond in order to find “personhood unmoored from x & y”. They witness the horrors of forced conformity; they find sanctuary in the thresholds of race, gender, and mental illness; they approach each poem with a tender eye. The title emerges from a poem pleading for freedom from binary existence: “they teach us to draw women / with circles and men with squares. / draw me with a shape we’ve yet / to name.”
”Mya Matteo Alexice’s poetics is one of crossroads and intersections between / across / against race, gender, empire, and belonging. Do we belong, wholly or in pieces, to our history, our families, the traumas that shape(d) us—or even ourselves? In lyrically sharp, branching, and instructive poems, Alexice probes and pierces the countless, painful ways social and political taxonomies are inimical to the formation and cultivation of selfhood. In A SHAPE WE’VE YET TO NAME, Matteo asks readers to witness and to be alongside as they become. “Watch close,” they urge. “Did you see me, for just an instant, birthing myself out of nothing[?]” These poems pry apart brackets, bloom and burst across the page, interrogate footnotes, and ultimately name into being a stunning whole from a splintered inheritance. Line after line vibrates with rigor and precision. This is a book to teach and treasure for years to come.” — Sarah Ghazal Ali, author of Theophanies
”In Mya Matteo Alexice's A SHAPE WE’VE YET TO NAME, each poem is incantation and witness. Alexice's poems rupture the page in both content and language. Their poems dive into the fraughtness of race, gender, and belonging inside of society's narrowly defined terms. Yet, their words equally sing the glimmers born from "all the world's blood." Alexice's language is singularly theirs: precise, definitive, and electrifying. Here is a necessary voice in contemporary trans poetics, who dares us to enter the depths of lived truths inside "a watershed body," a "river mouth," who refuses to be named.” — River Dandelion, author of remembering (y)our light
“Mya Matteo Alexice’s poems—graceful, impactful—shatter the borders and binaries that divide racial and gender identities, divisions that have always been disingenuous to our lived experiences and harmful to our future selves. A SHAPE WE’VE YET TO NAME imagines a “personhood unmoored” from monolithic categories, yearning for “a place for people like me. of my kind/ and color and iteration.” What a breathtaking debut.” — Rigoberto González
Mya Matteo Alexice is a non-binary, Black and white graduate of the Rutgers-Newark MFA. Their poems can be found in or are forthcoming in publications such as Pleiades, Black Warrior Review, Copper Nickel, Hayden's Ferry Review, The Bennington Review, Barrelhouse, The Pinch, Cherry Tree, underblong, and elsewhere. They were the runner-up in the 2023 Black Warrior Review Poetry Contest judged by Gary Soto. Their debut poetry collection, A Shape We've Yet to Name (March '24), is published by Game Over Books. They enjoy video games where you can make the characters kiss.