About Leila Chatti
Leila Chatti is a Tunisian-American poet and author of the chapbooks Ebb (Akashic Books, 2018) and Tunsiya/Amrikiya, the 2017 Editors’ Selection from Bull City Press. She is the recipient of scholarships from the Tin House Writers’ Workshop, The Frost Place, and the Key West Literary Seminar, a grant from the Barbara Deming Memorial Fund, and fellowships from the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, the Wisconsin Institute for Creative Writing, and Cleveland State University, where she is the inaugural Anisfield-Wolf Fellow in Publishing and Writing. Her poems have received awards from Ploughshares’ Emerging Writer’s Contest, Narrative’s 30 Below Contest, and the Academy of American Poets, and appear in Ploughshares, Tin House, American Poetry Review, Virginia Quarterly Review, The Georgia Review, Kenyon Review Online, and elsewhere.
Social media: @laypay on Twitter and Instagram
A Profile of the Author
Notes on “Myomectomy”
I was in a poetry workshop with Blas Falconer last summer at The Frost Place, and he gave us a prompt each day to bring to the next day’s class. One of those was based on Stanley Plumly’s poem “Infidelity,” which we were to imitate in the following ways: the poem is 26 lines long, and the first 13 lines are more or less observation only, and then the second 13 lines allow for commentary, with an “I” that is a little more present—also, the title is something not explicitly stated in the poem, but gives the poem context. I was intimidated by the idea of having to describe something for 13 lines before I was allowed to enter the poem with all my thoughts and opinions, and spent the evening completely stumped. Though I didn’t know how to start, I did know what I wanted to write about—I had come to the workshop to generate poems for my full-length manuscript, which was (is!) nearing completion, a manuscript focusing on a health scare seen through the lens of faith. I had already written many poems about the illness, and a handful about recovery, and was trying to determine what I had yet to address. I woke early the next morning to again attempt the prompt, and perhaps my half-dream state made it easier, because it came quickly; I wrote about the surgery, the most visually striking “scene” of my experience, yet the one I did not get to see. I had only one glimpse of it; the doctor showed me after the surgery a photograph of my uterus in his hands, with my body open beneath it, and the tumor protruding from the incision. It was an image I will never forget.
Music, Food, Booze, Tattoos, Kittens, etc.
I’m currently in Ireland, so I’ve been eating a lot of scones! As for animals, there are gigantic pigeons here, and magpies, which I find wonderful. I have yet to encounter a sheep, but I anticipate that will happen shortly. Listening—I’ve been turning to classical music lately, as I’ve been running around a lot and my nerves are shot, and Enya (don’t laugh!), which now feels appropriate. Tea is my perennial beverage of choice; as for specifics, this month I’ve been drinking jasmine green, kava, and turmeric.