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Leah Umansky

An interview with “speaking of marvels” for STRAIGHT AWAY THE EMPTIED WORLD

Speaking of Marvels

“The speaker is so dissatisfied with life that she looks outside of her own society, even outside of her own planet.”


Straight Away the Emptied World (Kattywompus Press, 2016)

What are some of your favorite chapbooks?

Some of my favorite chapbooks are Susan Bruce’s Body of Water, Sarah Gerard’s BFF, any of Julie Brooks Barbour’s chapbooks, and Anne Carson’s  The Albertine Workout.

What’s your chapbook about?  

My chapbook is about the near-future. It’s steeped in feminism and sci-fi/ fantasy, but also is very much about hope. It’s a collection of poems that are about a female speaker fighting the good fight in a world long lost.

If you have written more than one chapbook, could you describe each of them in chronological order?

This is my third book of poems, and my second chapbook.  My first chapbook is the Mad Men inspiredDon Dreams and I Dreams

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I created a “Book Notes” for Largehearted Boy for my new dystopian poetry chapbook, STRAIGHT AWAY THE EMPTIED WORLD.  Read it and listen to the playlist !


Left inside the mound, I accompanied him.


First it was silver, then sand.

There was a shape of a great melodrama

And clue by clue, I smelled the change in the air


“Grace is set in stages,” he said, “I won’t burden you with the list.”

“But what we love will be forgotten, if we don’t follow discovery.”


This is not the start of love. It is a dream in the long line of a horse,

The wide bow of a ship, or the ribcage of the biggest heart.


The silver chipped away and a thrill rose in a dark-light.

The doubt then was a fat flower blooming


 I said, “More.  More.  MORE!”


Only that deafening smell of the overripe

Could wake me from that blast.  That pomp.



I have been walking around with arms enflamed

My buzzing harks back to days past

Leave everything ragged

No one questions the start

Don’t Tell Them You’re Not the Center of the Universe

I am humble. I am the gold-standard of pleasing. I am monumental and un-sabotaged. My sweet defies the vinegar days and the bleached-out nights. I return to the day and weather whatever is worn.

Of all the magic tricks, of all the annoyances, of all the clutching, the wolf at my neck is obligated, not obliterated. She emerges. She falls in love. She settles on the wish that all lovers are not doomed. That all flickers are not dragging hopes.

Don’t tell them you’re not the center of the universe, because sometimes you are.  And while I am confessing,  all these rights trying not to be wrongs, all these fears holding back loves are just an ever-changing  tone. A vibration too high for our ears.

Maybe I am the center of the universe, ever-orbiting around a heart of gold.  A universe of one. Someday, I will bring you into my spin.

There needs to be a ground

To find. There needs to be a grounds

For finding a way up or out.

If there is a grounding-in

If there is a grounding out

Let it be so elaborate

That my skirt blows up

In a breeze, so still,

That you believe in magic

That you believe in the most elaborate of schemes

That the scheme of this life

Is a grounds for a plea.

So that the ground

We stand on leads to a higher landing

So that the whole of each half of my hand,

Each palm, could be held in the tightest grip

Grounding this in an earth that is still alive

With greens and reds, still alive in our

Footfalls and tears.

How many ask for this?

The Greatest

The greatest harvest has been tucked in, buried. Some would say marooned, gathering toward ambition. Is it a weak purpose, or a somehow lodging of a brief changing world?

The greatest harvest of my life is sun-plucked and drained.  Not great. Not pert. It is still enfolded, still orbit-spun, still defeating its surface. 

We travel at so many speeds. We are harvesting every possible moment.  I am a field of knowings; a possible sky. We compete with sound and heaven.  So much time passes through our points. So much time. It is hard to know where our feet actually land.

The fast-forwards burnish a haunting beat; a deep thrust of heart and breath. The tragic nevers we try to restructure. This startling, that wedge of change, consider it. Consider the flooding over as the most exquisite tremor you feel today. The world outside; this is all the greatest. 


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