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Sheela Free's voice - totally original and authentic, which is a major accomplishment today - manages anger with energy humor and pathos that avoids the trap of self pity, a funny pathos. The beauty of this new voice is that it deals with disasters by shining small mercies on them. Sheela Free's verse pops and stings, reverberates and soothes. Borrowing from pop culture, politics, and family recipes, so that "the aroma of heaven itself descends / and grabs me by the throat," Free's private struggles with identity and loss are framed and amplified by the struggles of a community fighting natural and man-made disasters, poverty and apathy. Here is a writer with an authentic voice and vision, whose words cross oceans to trace a history that is exotic yet familiar, landing squarely in a barren Southern California landscape that is as welcoming as it is disconcerting, a place we can all call home. Cati Porter, editor of Poemeleon: A Journal of Poetry, and author of Seven Floors Up and small fruit songs In her poem, "And so the Stupid Critic Said," Sheela Free exhorts us to "Write 'till the marrow in your bones /sucks its way into your words."
It is clear that this is how Free herself writes - each poem in this collection buzzes with the stuff of life in all its pain and joy, each word extracted from the very center of her being. These poems are deeply personal and political, honest and visionary, all at once - poems that stand up and say "I STILL AM" even after the most unimaginable loss. Sheela Free reminds us of the courage that's needed if we want to call ourselves truly free. Gayle Brandeis, author of Self Storage, The Book of Dead Birds, and Fruitflesh: Seeds of Inspiration for Women Who Write Powerful. Deep. Incisive. Courageous. Illuminating Shonali Bose, award winning film maker, author of Amu