Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha

Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha was born in Sri Lanka in 1975, raised in the United States, and now resides in Toronto, Ontario. In addition to writing and teaching and cultural work, she is a spoken-word artist who has performed throughout Canada and the United States. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Mills College. In the fall of 2018, Piepzna-Samarasinha published a collection of essays entitled Care Work: Dreaming Disability Justice.

Bodymap book cover

Poetry

Bodymap: Poems

Toronto: Mawenzi House, 2015.
PS8631.I46 B63 2015

Publisher’s Synopsis

In Bodymap, Lambda Award-winner Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha sings a queer disabled femme-of-colour love song filled with hard femme poetics and disability justice. The first book of the author to examine disability from a queer femme-of-colour lens, Bodymap contains work created and performed with Sins Invalid. Bodymap maps hard and vulnerable terrains of queer desire, survivorhood, transformative love, sick and disabled queer genius and all the homes we claim and deserve.

Awards and Honours

2015 Publishing Triangle Audre Lord Award for Lesbian Poetry (Finalist)

Consensual Genocide book cover

Poetry

Consensual Genocide

Toronto: TSAR Books, 2006.
PS8631 .I46 C65 2006

Publisher’s Synopsis

This long-awaited first collection of poetry by queer Sri Lankan writer and spoken-word artist Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha is full of the stories we’ve been waiting for. Tracing bloodlines from Sri Lanka’s civil wars to Brooklyn and Toronto streets, these fierce poems are full of heart and guts, telling raw truths about brown girl border crossings before and after 9/11, surviving abuse, mixed-race journeys and high femme rebellions. Consensual Genocide celebrates our survival and marks our rebel memories into history.

Poetry

Love Cake: Poems

Toronto: TSAR Books, 2011.
PS8631 .I46 L69 2011

Publisher’s Synopsis

In Love Cake, [the author] explores how queer people of colour resist and transform violence through love and desire. Refusing to forget the traumas of post 9/11 Islamophobia, and Sri Lanka’s civil war, Love Cake documents the persistence of survival and beauty–especially the dangerous beauty found in queer people of colour’s lives. …

Awards and Honours

2012 Lambda Literary Award, Lesbian Poetry (Winner)

Poetry

Tonguebreaker: Poems and Performance Texts

Vancouver: Arsenal Pulp Press, 2019.
PS8631 .I46 T66 2019

Publisher’s Synopsis (From its website)

In their fourth collection of poetry, Lambda Literary Award-winning poet and writer Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha continues her excavation of working-class queer brown femme survivorhood and desire.

Tonguebreaker is about surviving the unsurvivable: living through hate crimes, the suicides of queer kin, and the rise of fascism while falling in love and walking through your beloved’s neighbourhood in Queens. Building on her groundbreaking work in BodymapTonguebreaker is an unmitigated force of disabled queer-of-colour nature, narrating disabled femme-of-colour moments on the pulloff of the 80 in West Oakland, the street, and the bed. Tonguebreaker dreams unafraid femme futures where we live — a ritual for our collective continued survival.

Dirty River book cover

Non-fiction (Memoir/Autobiography)

Dirty River: A Queer Femme of Color Dreaming Her Way Home

Vancouver: Arsenal Pulp Press, 2015.
PS8631 .I46 Z53 2015

Publisher’s Synopsis

In 1996, poet Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha, carrying only two backpacks, caught a Greyhound bus in America and ran away to Canada. She ended up in Toronto, where she was welcomed by a community of queer punks of colour offering promises of love and revolution, yet she remained haunted by the reasons she left home in the first place. This passionate, riveting memoir is a mixtape of dreams and nightmares, of immigration court lineups and queer South Asian dance nights; it is an intensely personal road map and an intersectional, tragicomic tale that reveals how a disabled queer woman of colour and abuse survivor navigates the dirty river of the not-so-distant past and, as the subtitle suggests, “dreams her way home.”

Awards and Honours

2016 Lambda Literary Award–Lesbian Memoir/Biography (Finalist)

Links

Piepzna-Samarasinha personal website

Publisher Arsenal Pulp Press

Publisher Mawenzi House (formerly TSAR)

Interview by Rachna Contractor in Plenitude Magazine (21 March 2017)