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Jennifer Givhan

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Jennifer Givhan

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in The United States
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February 2021


Jennifer Givhan is a Mexican-American and indigenous poet, novelist, and transformational coach from the Southwestern desert and the recipient of poetry fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and PEN/Rosenthal Emerging Voices. She holds a Master’s degree from California State University Fullerton and a Master’s in Fine Arts from Warren Wilson College. She is the author of four full-length poetry collections, most recently Rosa’s Einstein (University of Arizona Press), and the novels Trinity Sight and Jubilee (Blackstone Publishing), all of which were finalists for the Arizona-New Mexico Book Awards. Her newest poetry collection Belly to the Brutal (Wesleyan University Press) and novel River Woman River Demon (Blackstone Publis ...more

Average rating: 3.99 · 1,516 ratings · 363 reviews · 18 distinct worksSimilar authors
River Woman, River Demon

3.90 avg rating — 542 ratings — published 2022 — 9 editions
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Trinity Sight

3.75 avg rating — 409 ratings — published 2019 — 9 editions
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Jubilee

3.97 avg rating — 179 ratings — published 2020 — 9 editions
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Landscape with Headless Mama

4.54 avg rating — 74 ratings — published 2016
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Girl with Death Mask

4.23 avg rating — 77 ratings — published 2018 — 6 editions
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Protection Spell

4.25 avg rating — 60 ratings — published 2017 — 3 editions
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Rosa's Einstein

4.03 avg rating — 39 ratings — published 2019 — 3 editions
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Lifeline

4.67 avg rating — 24 ratings — published 2017
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Belly to the Brutal

4.67 avg rating — 15 ratings4 editions
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The Daughter's Curse

4.33 avg rating — 3 ratings — published 2018
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Published on November 30, 2021 16:06
Jackal
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The God of War
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River Woman, River Demon by Jennifer Givhan
"I absolutely didn't want to put this book down, even though half the time I was yelling "Eva, get your shit together!" at it. A gripping read that will keep you guessing the whole time. The book struggles honestly and openly with regret, trauma, and " Read more of this review »
River Woman, River Demon by Jennifer Givhan
"About the book: “A psychological thriller that weaves together the threads of folk magick with personal and cultural empowerment, River Woman, River Demon is a mysterious incantation of reckoning with the past and claiming one's unique power and voic" Read more of this review »
River Woman, River Demon by Jennifer Givhan
"Real and Raw

When a poet writes a novel the reader gets full meaty sentences to chew on and digest over time. This book has volumes between the covers: family, spiritually, the realness of motherhood! The dynamics between the characters so true, so fu" Read more of this review »
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Quotes by Jennifer Givhan  (?)
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“She hadn’t always been obsessed with babies. There was a time she believed she would change the world, lead a movement, follow Dolores Huerta and Sylvia Mendez, Ellen Ochoa and Sonia Sotomayor. Where her bisabuela had picked pecans and oranges in the orchards, climbing the tallest trees with her small girlbody, dropping the fruit to the baskets below where her tías and tíos and primos stooped to pick those that had fallen on the ground, where her abuela had sewn in the garment district in downtown Los Angeles with her bisabuela, both women taking the bus each morning and evening, making the beautiful dresses to be sold in Beverly Hills and maybe worn by a movie star, and where her mother had cared for the ill, had gone to their crumbling homes, those diabetic elderly dying in the heat in the Valley—Bianca would grow and tend to the broken world, would find where it ached and heal it, would locate its source of ugliness and make it beautiful.
Only, since she’d met Gabe and become La Llorona, she’d been growing the ugliness inside her. She could sense it warping the roots from within. The cactus flower had dropped from her when she should have been having a quinceañera, blooming across the dance floor in a bright, sequined dress, not spending the night at her boyfriend’s nana’s across town so that her mama wouldn’t know what she’d done, not taking a Tylenol for the cramping and eating the caldo de rez they’d made for her. They’d taken such good care of her.
Had they done it for her? Or for their son’s chance at a football scholarship?
She’d never know.
What she did know: She was blessed with a safe procedure. She was blessed with women to check her for bleeding. She was blessed with choice.
Only, she hadn’t chosen for herself.
She hadn’t.
Awareness must come. And it did. Too late.
If she’d chosen for herself, she would have chosen the cactus spines. She would’ve chosen the one night a year the night-blooming cereus uncoils its moon-white skirt, opens its opalescent throat, and allows the bats who’ve flown hundreds of miles with their young clutching to their fur as they swim through the air, half-starved from waiting, to drink their fill and feed their next generation of creatures who can see through the dark. She’d have been a Queen of the Night and taught her daughter to give her body to no Gabe.
She knew that, deep inside.
Where Anzaldúa and Castillo dwelled, where she fed on the nectar of their toughest blossoms.
These truths would moonstone in her palm and she would grasp her hand shut, hold it tight to her heart, and try to carry it with her toward the front door, out onto the walkway, into the world.
Until Gabe would bend her over. And call her gordita or cochina. Chubby girl. Dirty girl.
She’d open her palm, and the stone had turned to dust.
She swept it away on her jeans.
A daughter doesn’t solve anything; she needed her mama to tell her this.
But she makes the world a lot less lonely. A lot less ugly.
 ”
Jennifer Givhan, Jubilee

“The last time I had a dick in my mouth I was dying
alfalfa withered in rows unable to separate desire

from pain There are poets for whom this throbbing
is healing My Frida rail-impaled my
chingona fighting for whole even after gangrene
She loved her body though it betrayed”
Jennifer Givhan, Lifeline

“A shock of light. Unbelievable light. Blood orange swallowing the Albuquerque evening. A pulling in, taking back, reclaiming something stolen. Halfway home from her Saturday-morning lecture, Calliope Santiago drove across the river toward West Mesa and the Sleeping Sisters, ancient cinder-cone volcanoes in the distance marking the stretch of desert where she lived. Only now she could see no farther than two feet ahead of her from the blinding light, the splotches in her eyes bursting like bulbs in an antique camera. She blinked, not sure what she was seeing. She meant to cover her eyes. Meant to shield her sight.”
Jennifer Givhan, Trinity Sight

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“She knew what they thought was happening. She knew what they thought.
But here’s what she saw. Once upon a time, there was a girlchild. A brand new girlchild, smiling. So innocent, so new. Her mama held her tightly, and she was safe. The end.
After all, Jesus rose again, didn’t he? And his mama must have held him. Mother Mary in a teal robe, clinging to her child—Pietà turned beautiful. Restored to babe in arms.
Bianca’s daughter had returned. Her Jubilee. And she wouldn’t let her go.”
Jennifer Givhan, Jubilee

“She hadn’t always been obsessed with babies. There was a time she believed she would change the world, lead a movement, follow Dolores Huerta and Sylvia Mendez, Ellen Ochoa and Sonia Sotomayor. Where her bisabuela had picked pecans and oranges in the orchards, climbing the tallest trees with her small girlbody, dropping the fruit to the baskets below where her tías and tíos and primos stooped to pick those that had fallen on the ground, where her abuela had sewn in the garment district in downtown Los Angeles with her bisabuela, both women taking the bus each morning and evening, making the beautiful dresses to be sold in Beverly Hills and maybe worn by a movie star, and where her mother had cared for the ill, had gone to their crumbling homes, those diabetic elderly dying in the heat in the Valley—Bianca would grow and tend to the broken world, would find where it ached and heal it, would locate its source of ugliness and make it beautiful.
Only, since she’d met Gabe and become La Llorona, she’d been growing the ugliness inside her. She could sense it warping the roots from within. The cactus flower had dropped from her when she should have been having a quinceañera, blooming across the dance floor in a bright, sequined dress, not spending the night at her boyfriend’s nana’s across town so that her mama wouldn’t know what she’d done, not taking a Tylenol for the cramping and eating the caldo de rez they’d made for her. They’d taken such good care of her.
Had they done it for her? Or for their son’s chance at a football scholarship?
She’d never know.
What she did know: She was blessed with a safe procedure. She was blessed with women to check her for bleeding. She was blessed with choice.
Only, she hadn’t chosen for herself.
She hadn’t.
Awareness must come. And it did. Too late.
If she’d chosen for herself, she would have chosen the cactus spines. She would’ve chosen the one night a year the night-blooming cereus uncoils its moon-white skirt, opens its opalescent throat, and allows the bats who’ve flown hundreds of miles with their young clutching to their fur as they swim through the air, half-starved from waiting, to drink their fill and feed their next generation of creatures who can see through the dark. She’d have been a Queen of the Night and taught her daughter to give her body to no Gabe.
She knew that, deep inside.
Where Anzaldúa and Castillo dwelled, where she fed on the nectar of their toughest blossoms.
These truths would moonstone in her palm and she would grasp her hand shut, hold it tight to her heart, and try to carry it with her toward the front door, out onto the walkway, into the world.
Until Gabe would bend her over. And call her gordita or cochina. Chubby girl. Dirty girl.
She’d open her palm, and the stone had turned to dust.
She swept it away on her jeans.
A daughter doesn’t solve anything; she needed her mama to tell her this.
But she makes the world a lot less lonely. A lot less ugly.
 ”
Jennifer Givhan, Jubilee

“In the place Calliope had bled, a trail of corn sprouted behind her. She picked the two tallest corn shoots then sat beside two large, smooth stone metates for grinding. From within her husk rebozo, she pulled a mano, shucked the corn, laid it on the altar, and with the mano in both hands, she began moving with the weight of her whole body, the strength of her shoulders and back pressing down through her arms, back and forth, shearing, until the corn became a fine yellow powder.
The Ancients sang her on as she worked. When the Earth has had enough, she will shake her troubles off. She will shake her troublemakers off. She scooped this and mashed it into the butter of her hands. Rolled it into a ball, flattened it again. Shaped and shaped until the corn grew into a child, who sprang from the stone of her hands, laughing.
For she was finished, and sank into the earth, solid, hardened, at peace. And as her corn-made child ran from the mound to the grass below, the spirits intoned. The Earth has all the power she needs.
When she decides to use her power, you will know.”
Jennifer Givhan, Trinity Sight

“The rocks pummeled her belly. Something rose in her throat and when she tried to speak, from her mouth she dislodged a rock. She was made of rocks. She couldn’t move from the fossilized casing she’d once called her body.
Heat crackled nearby. A conversation wove through the fire. A child’s sweaty body curled at her lap, chest rhythms of breathing, up and down, pressing against her.
'I didn’t want to believe it was happening again.”
Jennifer Givhan, Trinity Sight

“A shock of light. Unbelievable light. Blood orange swallowing the Albuquerque evening. A pulling in, taking back, reclaiming something stolen. Halfway home from her Saturday-morning lecture, Calliope Santiago drove across the river toward West Mesa and the Sleeping Sisters, ancient cinder-cone volcanoes in the distance marking the stretch of desert where she lived. Only now she could see no farther than two feet ahead of her from the blinding light, the splotches in her eyes bursting like bulbs in an antique camera. She blinked, not sure what she was seeing. She meant to cover her eyes. Meant to shield her sight.”
Jennifer Givhan, Trinity Sight

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Richard Dominguez Thank you for the friend


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