At 7:30pm EST, on Thursday, October 13th, poet Leila Chatti will read her work in Prout Chapel as part of the 2022 Prout Chapel Reading Series, hosted by Bowling Green State University. 

Through her collection Deluge, Leila Chatti chronicles her experience with illness, uncontrollable bleeding referred to as “flooding,” surgery, and remission through explorations of narratives of religious punishment, womanhood, shame, and oscillations of doubt and faith. Fittingly, Chatti’s poems are preoccupied with the grand scope of existence, as we are suspended by our pain and grief between the infinities before birth and after death. “Indeed, one day I will return to God, as it is to Him that I belong.” she writes in her poem “Testimony,” continuing “Indeed, this was part of the Message and the Message was received. / I do not speak for God and He does not speak to me. / This an (arrangement/estrangement). / When asked my religion I answer surrender.” Despite their scope, Chatti roots these poems squarely in the body, allowing worldly pain to evidence the divine; in “Mary in the Waiting Room at the Gynecologist’s office,” she writes “In my hand, an empty cup. / Mary crosses / her legs, fingers the slender / chain around her neck. / She rubs her thumb against / the pendant’s tiny face, his miniature / arms permanently splayed.” Leila Chatti’s poems are as candid as they are intense, and as excruciating in their origins as they are compassionate at their hearts. You absolutely must pick up her work.

—Samuel Burt, MAR

Leila Chatti was born in 1990 in Oakland, California. Among her many achievements, she was selected as winner of the 2021 Levis Reading Prize, the 2021 Luschei Prize for African Poetry, and longlisted for the 2021 PEN Open Book Award. Chatti has been awarded grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Barbara Deming Memorial Fund, and the Helene Wurlitzer Foundation of New Mexico, and fellowships and scholarships from the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, the Wisconsin Institute for Creative Writing, the Tin House Writers’ Workshop, and more. Her debut full-length collection Deluge was published by Copper Canyon in 2020, and you can find her work in The New York Times Magazine, POETRY, The Nation, The Atlantic, Ploughshares, and elsewhere. She currently serves as the Consulting Poetry Editor at the Raleigh Review and lives and teaches in the Midwest.

(Biographical info and poems courtesy of leilachatti dot com)