Girl Torpedo by Emari DiGiorgio
Agape Editions, 2018; 67pp
Reviewed by Sherry Smith
Bravery and passion pervade the poems in Emari DiGiorgio’s, Girl Torpedo, a slim yet powerful volume that confronts the issue of violence against females. Drawing from a variety of sources—private, domestic, and global—these poems expose what is often silenced or ignored while challenging the reader to be as courageous as the voice that speaks to them. The poet acts as a sponge, absorbing what the world brings to her consciousness, then wringing it out in a gush like a powerful river. But she is also an alchemist, turning the sorrows of the world into poetry with the skilled and slow titration of a master.
In her clear and consistent voice, DiGiorgio allows the reader to participate in meaning-making, coaxing out their own experience and imagination. These are poems that raise questions and offer up possibilities for change—whether one has been a recipient, agent, or observer of violence. In poem after poem, the poet uses language that invites the reader in, either addressing them directly with the pronoun “you”:
When you were the husband,
I couldn't be the husband.
When you were the wife,
I wanted to be the wife.
or employing the more inclusive “we":
We want to believe
we can do better, but we too
are wild, fallible beasts.
Drawing from events like Boko Haram’s 2014 kidnapping of 276 schoolgirls and stage magician and escapologist Dorothy Dietrich’s performance of the bullet catch in her mouth, the poet encourages the reader to become a co-witness to these acts while educating them as well. In lesser hands, pulling headlines from current events could run the risk of dating the poems. Yet DiGiorgio wields her needle deftly, abstracting the timeless from the mundane. At the same time, we get a glimpse of author’s moral consciousness and her unwavering sense of social justice.
Ultimately, the poems in Girl Torpedo demonstrate and invite self-reflection and self-awareness, but always with a view toward action and change. Read this volume once and be dazzled. Read it again and you will find it quenches a deeper thirst—a thirst that perhaps you didn’t even know you had.
Sherry Smith is a lifetime lover of words and poetry. She is still trying to find the common denominator between an undergraduate degree in music, an early career in corporate distribution and logistics management, and her current profession as a clinical social worker. Meanwhile, her interests include enjoying ways that poetry can explore and illuminate the human condition and our relationships to ourselves, others, and the world. She is an avid participant in poetry readings and events around the Chicago area.