Review: Slant of Arils by Donia Mounsef

By  | July 6, 2015 | 1 Comment | Filed under: Reviews



Review: Slant of Arils by Donia Mounsef
By Sonya Vatomsky


Slant of Arils, by Donia Mounsef. Damaged Goods Press. 45 pages. $6.00, paper; $3.00, ebook.


Slant of Arils is the first chapbook from Damaged Goods Press, a new micro-press dedicated to queer/trans poetry and flash fiction, and it is an utterly delightful debut. Written by Donia Mounsef, a Canadian-Lebanese poet raised in Beirut until age 19, Slant of Arils deftly and experimentally plays with rhythm and rhyme, with each word delicately balancing on the tongue before dancing into the next stanza. It’s multi-lingual magic, with snippets of Arabic, French, and Spanish peppering the English enough to hint at the complex linguistics of which Mounsef is capable while allowing those with fewer tongues under their belt to absorb the words’ meanings via osmosis.

Recurring themes are those of exploration: cartography, cartophobia, naming and then renaming – the power of describing and the freedom of denouncing description.

Excerpt from “Inside Passage”:


You wanted to explore uncharted territories,

rename ice floes floating softly in the flux.

If I were Prometheus,

I would steal the power of naming and give it to you


Slant of Arils is also a political work, though this usage of “also” is, as always, dubious for those of us whose political is not separable from their personal. As a book of queer poetry, it demonstrates the ultimate meaninglessness of dividing the political and the personal, and the political and the erotic, while recognizing and speaking to the constant struggle we face in our human oscillation between these two societally-erected poles.

And here I do a slight disservice to the manuscript by not fully devoting my attention to the breadth of gorgeous erotic viscera and imagery therein. Rather, my own interests and tendencies drive me to highlight again the incredible use of language, both as an art and as a science, language as a construct and language as creation. I hope another reviewer of this book will further speak to the erotic elements in ways in which I cannot, but do let me assure you that they are there and they are glorious and sweet and real and lustful.

Excerpt from “PULL III: The Plunge”:


grief is meant to be a consciousness

of a past lost

in your absence

it inhabits the future

a memory of tomorrow not yet lived

a mapless road leading to the wreckage

your desire has left

at the bottom of a sea of expectations


If Slant of Arils is any indication, Damaged Goods is a press to watch. They plan to publish 3 chapbooks a year, and I eagerly look forward to the other two. I am also thrilled to continue following the work of Donia Mounsef, whose dexterity with language is delicious and whose social consciousness is contagious. In “Adrienne Rich,” one of my favorite poems from the collection, Mounsef writes “poetry is language deserted by love / words ought to do more.” Yet this book is an optimistic argument for the very fact that, perhaps, in their own way, our words are doing everything they can.

Order Donia Mounsef’s Slant of Arils (Damaged Goods Press) here.


Sonya Vatomsky is a Moscow-born, Seattle-raised feminist poet and essayist. Her first chapbook, MY HEART IN ASPIC, will be published by Porkbelly Press in 2015 and her work has appeared or is forthcoming in No Tokens Journal, VIDA: Women In Literary Arts, Hermeneutic Chaos Literary Journal, Bone Bouquet, Weird Sister, and elsewhere. Find her online at and @coolniceghost.




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