‘These poems are the making of self, of body, and as such, depend on muscle, blood, curvature, spine, the vast complexities of breath to power them. Wonder then, that they emerge as they do—arched with ribs, floating into the world with tenderness and defiance.’—Tishani Doshi
‘In Kuhu Joshi’s My Body Didn’t Come Before Me, we accompany a young woman as she comes of age in a body that is both intimately known and utterly unfamiliar. Across the doctor’s office, the lover’s bed, the school bus, the neighbourhood park and the family home, these poems transport us into a reckoning with illness, love, lust, and belonging…A stunning debut.’—Aditi Rao
In My Body Didn’t Come Before Me, Kuhu Joshi recalls her struggle with spinal deformity, depression and shame that made it nearly impossible to feel at ease in her body. Her verses travel in time between childhood, when she was diagnosed with severe scoliosis, and her journey into young adulthood. They move between hospitals, schools, gardens and homes in an urgent attempt to reclaim agency. The poet asks: Who is a woman before she becomes just a body? Is there a part of her that isn’t trapped in the limitations of the physical and the conventions the world sets down for womanhood? The longing for safety and pleasure that envelops girls and women bonds them to each other in these poems. Sensual and intense, they explore desires that are sharply individual yet deeply universal. The poetic voice is in turns coolly observant and seething with rage. It brings to focus distinct moments from the past that may seem small but are defining. Parents, lovers, friends and strangers haunt the universe of this moving and exquisitely crafted collection.