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83. You Don't Know What Love Is by Kim Addonizio

- A Friend to Salena Godden

In this episode of The Poetry Exchange, we are thrilled to be joined by the poetry tour-de-force that is Salena Godden, to hear about the poem that has been a friend to her: 'You Don't Know What Love' Is by Kim Addonizio.

00:00 / 25:50

It will not be written off and will not be shushed, and I really love that about her whole body of work actually.

About our guest

Salena Godden FRSL is an award-winning author, poet and broadcaster of Jamaican-mixed heritage. Her debut novel Mrs Death Misses Death won the Indie Book Award for Fiction and the People’s Book Prize, and was shortlisted for the British Book Awards and the Gordon Burn Prize. Film and TV rights for Mrs Death Misses Death have been optioned by Idris Elba’s production company Green Door Pictures.

A hardback edition of Pessimism is for Lightweights - 30 Pieces of Courage and Resistance was published by Rough Trade Books in February 2023. She is currently working on a memoir and a poetry collection which are both due for publication in May 2024, plus an eagerly anticipated second novel set in the Mrs Death Misses Death universe due for publication in spring 2025.

Salena's essay Shade was published in groundbreaking anthology The Good Immigrant (Unbound 2016). Godden has had several volumes of poetry published including Under The Pier (Nasty Little Press 2011) Fishing in the Aftermath: Poems 1994-2014 (Burning Eye Books 2014), plus also a childhood memoir, Springfield Road (Unbound 2014).

You Don't Know What Love Is

by Kim Addonizio

You Don't Know What Love Is
by Kim Addonizio

You don't know what love is
but you know how to raise it in me
like a dead girl winched up from a river. How to
wash off the sludge, the stench of our past.
How to start clean. This love even sits up
and blinks; amazed, she takes a few shaky steps.
Any day now she'll try to eat solid food. She'll want
to get into a fast car, one low to the ground, and drive
to some cinderblock shithole in the desert
where she can drink and get sick and then
dance in nothing but her underwear. You know
where she's headed, you know she'll wake up
with an ache she can't locate and no money
and a terrible thirst. So to hell
with your warm hands sliding inside my shirt
and your tongue down my throat
like an oxygen tube. Cover me
in black plastic. Let the mourners through.

From 'What Is This Thing Called Love' by Kim Addonizio (2005, W.W. Norton & Co.)

Read more

What Is This Thing Called Love by Kim Addonizio (W.W. Norton & Co, 2005)

Image of book cover of 'You Don't Know What Love Is' by Kim Addonizio

Pessimism is for Lightweights by Salena Godden (Rough Trade Books, 2023)

Pessimism is for Lightweights by Salena Godden (Rough Trade Books, 2023)

If you like this...'ll probably love our conversation with Lois P. Jones about 'What Survives' by Rainer Maria Rilke.

Image of Lois P. Jones - acts as weblink to episode
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