Simone Person’s poetry is not for everyone; it is not for the cowardly or the two faced. Her poetry will look you in the eye and exhale thick truth that will either warm you or choke you.
— Rachel Wiley, author of Nothing Is Okay and Fat Girl Finishing School
Smoke Girl introduces us to a narrator who remembers the after-effects of rape: the “wondering if it was rape at all…” and the questions in hindsight: “Didn’t you notice he was a dog”? Simone Person offers us a narrative that vacillates between shame and anger, doubt and certainty, self-blame and empathy. These poems reveal the trauma that rape directly causes to the body and the emotional, psychological, historical, and spiritual trauma it unearths. They do not hide the point of origin for Smoke Girl's pain, desire, and hope of being loved by someone: the rejection of her own body by everyone, including herself. Yet, this story is one that makes visible the internal and external struggle of “survivors” as they push themselves out of what often times feels like being buried alive. Smoke Girl, however, is also a warning and reclamation; its words a ritual of unsilencing and protection: “…I scrub your fingertips from my skin. / Set fire to the / things you touched. / Salt my doorways so you can’t enter. / Fill in what you dug from me… I forget / the burn of your name, walk through you in the street, and you are gauzy and thin like cotton.” And, true to the nature of smoke, these poems will rise from invisibility, settle into places you want to keep hidden, and burn themselves into your consciousness until you cannot forget them.
— Maria Hamilton Abegunde, PhD, author of What Is Now Unanswerable; Still Breathing; Wishful Thinking; and Learning to Eat the Dead: Juba, USA (forthcoming)
In Smoke Girl, Simone Person documents the anguish and loss of sexual violence; these poems weave a narrative of wound and scar, the ritual of a fist clenched and released. Speaking from and to several voices, Smoke Girl potently illustrates the wraith of trauma, how it disrupts and disturbs memory and time. These words render devastation, through its avenues and histories, as tangible on the page; Person is an observant and empathetic writer, one whose gorgeous work I am honored to know.
— Yasmin Belkhyr, author of Bone Light
About the Author
Simone Person grew up in small Michigan towns and Toledo, Ohio. She is a Pink Door Women’s Writing Retreat 2018 Fellow and author of Dislocate, the prose winner of Honeysuckle Press’s 2017 Chapbook Contest. She is currently an MFA/MA in Fiction and African American and African Diaspora Studies at Indiana University. Her work has appeared in Puerto del Sol, Yemassee, Gigantic Sequins, and others. Find out more at simoneperson.com and follow her on Twitter and Instagram at @princxporkchop.
About the Collection
Smoke Girl is a study in loss: of body, safety, and identity. It interrogates the simultaneous invisibility and hypervisibility of fat, Black, femme bodies. Instead of forgetting, Simone Person breaks the silences and shame embedded in the murky aftermath of sexual assault, employing the voices of victim, perpetrator, and spectator throughout.
- "Prayers to St. Christina Mirabilis." The Sundress Blog: The Wardrobe's Best Dressed. ed. Jessica Rae Bergamino. 31 May 2019.
- "The Smoke Girl Speaks (in American Sentences)." The Sundress Blog: The Wardrobe's Best Dressed. ed. Jessica Rae Bergamino. 30 May 2019.
- "Accretion." The Sundress Blog: The Wardrobe's Best Dressed. ed. Jessica Rae Bergamino. 29 May 2019.
- "Pill Cosby." The Sundress Blog: The Wardrobe's Best Dressed. ed. Jessica Rae Bergamino. 28 May 2019.
- "Questions for the Smoke Girl." The Sundress Blog: The Wardrobe's Best Dressed. ed. Jessica Rae Bergamino. 27 May 2019.
- "2019 FORTHCOMING POETRY BOOKS BY QUEER PEOPLE OF COLOR." Luther Hughes. lutherxhughes.com. 30 December 2018.
Awards & Honors
- 2020 Eric Hoffer Chapbook Category Award Winner
- 2020 Eric Hoffer Grand Prize Shortlist Finalist