Sex Made Me

Chap­book, Elianna Lev, write@elian­nalev.com, $10

Broken Pencil - - Zine Reviews -

Elianna Lev ex­plores in­ti­macy, in­ad­e­quacy, in­fat­u­a­tion, in­fi­delity, and other ins and out of sexuality in Sex Made Me,a book of po­etry con­sist­ing of two chap­books. The col­lec­tion is di­verse in form, its po­ems rang­ing from two lines to a page, the con­tent span­ning il­lus­tra­tions in pseudo-comic for­mat and an ex­cerpt from an un­pub­lished in­ter­view with sex ther­a­pist Tammy Nel­son on in­fi­delity. That va­ri­ety is the book’s strength as well as its weak­ness.

Some of the best pieces in the col­lec­tion are the short, snappy, and sim­ple works like “Eat­ing Pussy”, “The Sad­dest Postscript of All”, and “Haiku on the English word ‘love’”, all of which pack a punch in three lines or less. The vul­ner­a­ble mo­ments are the most im­pact­ful, like a look about at the brief mo­ments of hope amidst the dark re­cesses of win­ter in “Dark Grey Dark Grey,”, and a

beau­ti­fully writ­ten piece on build­ing up bar­ri­ers to avoid hurt in new re­la­tion­ships in the wake of past trauma in “Lower the Red Flags”. Lev’s sense of hu­mour about het­ero­sex­ual re­la­tion­ships shines in “Ode to Gary Lar­son (Same Planet, Dif­fer­ent Worlds)”, where she be­gins with a speaker’s procla­ma­tions of other-worldly love, only to re­spond with “Oh. I just jerk off to sexy photos you post on In­sta­gram” (19).

Other pieces, like “New Skill”, and “I’ve Come Alive!” seem out of place in the col­lec­tion, bas­ing their struc­ture on puns and hav­ing seem­ingly lit­tle to do with sexuality or re­la­tion­ships. “Wait Less” seems un­nec­es­sary, merely riff­ing on the Yeah Yeah Yeahs song “Maps” and fail­ing to demon­strate the tal­ent that Lev ex­hibits in her other pieces here.

Ul­ti­mately, Sex Made Me is an in­ti­mate jour­ney through one au­thor’s ex­pe­ri­ence of love and sex. It’s bumpy, but worth ex­plor­ing. (Ni­cole Par­tyka)

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