Girl with Death Mask

Girl with Death Mask

Jennifer Givhan
Distribution: Global
Publication date: 03/17/2018
ISBN: 978-0-253-03280-5
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Love, tequila, sex, first periods, late nights, abuse, and heartache. The journey from girl to womanhood is brimming with transformative magic that heals even as it shatters. These are the memories that haunt the dreams of what was and what could have been in Girl with Death Mask.

In four rich and imaginative movements of poems, Jennifer Givhan profiles the suffering and the love of a Latina girl and then mother coming to terms with sexual trauma. Her daughter is a touchstone of healing as she seeks to unravel her own emotions and protect the next generation of women with a fierceness she must find within. Givhan exploits changing poetic forms to expose what it means to mature in a female body swirling with tenderness, violence, and potential in an uncertain world. Girl with Death Mask is a cathartic and gripping confession of the trials of adolescence and womanhood.

Author Bio

Jennifer Givhan is a Mexican American poet from the southwestern desert. She is author of Landscape with Headless Mama (2015 Pleiades Editors' Prize) and Protection Spell (2016 Miller Williams Poetry Prize Series). Her honors include a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship in Poetry, a PEN/Rosenthal Emerging Voices Fellowship, and The Frost Place Latin@ Scholarship, and her work has appeared or is forthcoming in many publications including Ploughshares, POETRY, Boston Review, Blackbird, and the Kenyon Review. She is Editor-in-Chief at Tinderbox Poetry Journal, and she lives with her family in New Mexico.


Girl with Death Mask shake the bars of our prisons and also those on which we write our music. . . . These poems illuminate how to love the body How hard our bodies work to bring their wisdom to us. How hard it is to love what we How hard it is to learn the ways that love abides despite our best efforts to dislodge, disprove, and doubt it. These poems find their way. They shake up our knowing in the best ways.”
 — Irena Praitis, author of, The Last Stone in the Circle

“Magic, alchemy, transmogrification, and the body's deep obsessions fill these lyrically charged poems with an unearthed power. Givhan is a poet who knows the bones of her own world so well that she can rearrange them into anything she wishes. Both surreal and rooted in truth, the complex and gorgeous poems in Girl with Death Mask continue to shake, stun, and weave their spells long after the book is closed.”
 — Ada Limón, author of, Bright Dead Things

“These poems beautifully, convincingly do what I hope poems might–they disrupt what I know, or what I thought I knew. And in that way they invent for me a world. A world haunted and brutal, yes. But one mended, too, by the love and tenderness and vision and magic by which these poems are made. Again and again I found myself looking into space, sort of shaken, sort of grasping, turning and turning inside a line or phrase, inside an image or metaphor, inside some devastating music.”
 — Ross Gay, author of, Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude

“In the image-rich, circuitous journey of Girl with Death Mask, the girl both defies and weds death and its accomplice, sex, defies and weds collective mythologies. She flies and she falls, floats and drowns. . . In this raw, kinetic masterpiece of survival Givhan assures us, ‘even through death masks,’ Givhan assures us, ‘we can kiss.’”
 — Diane Seuss, author of, Four-Legged Girl

“"Girl With Death Mask is so inspiring, it may just be that rare bird, a poetry bestseller."”
 — Cultural Weekly

“Jennifer Givhan, we're awed by your use of pause and pacing, as you lead us to better understanding a woman's landmine-filled journey out of childhood.”
 — ForeWord Reviews

“Givhan crafts a clear-eyed narrative of Latina womanhood in this lovely collection ripe with longing, hope, and broken faith. . . . Givhan explores the dark sides of adolescence and womanhood with searing imagery and a healthy dose of empathy.”
 — Publishers Weekly

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Table of Contents



The Dying Girl & The Date Palm
The Change
Plan B
Daughter Page Ripped from The Symbol Sourcebook
Miracle of the River Pig
3-Card Spread What Is True What Isn’t True Advice
Daughter Lace Your Fingers to the Sky
1.0 out of 5 stars Not For Teennage [sic] Girls*
Hallucination With Danny
What’s Been Given Me Secondhand
Faithful Woman
Common Carp


Girl with Death Mask
Sin Vergüenza (Como los Pájaros)
Warn the Young Ones
First Response
Sea Level
Failure The Mother of ______
The Rhinoceros Calf
On Contemplating Leaving My Children
Mexican Wedding Cookies
The Girl (Whose Mother Filled Her Belly with Meth & Let Terrible People Mutilate Her
Body Before Killing Her) Runs Away


La Llorona Comes Over for Dinner


When I Am Not Joan of Arc or You Bring Me a Bowl of Green & Purple Olives
Refugio State
Candling The Eggs
Bird Bath (Baño de Pájaros)
Three Wolf Spirits
In the Waiting Room of the Child Psychologist
Reabsorption Elegy
Ghost Girl in the Recovery Room
At the Altar of Staying
This Bridge Called My Back