Chapbook Review: Sex Made Me

Sex Made Me
Chapbook, Elianna Lev, [email protected], $10

Elianna Lev explores intimacy, inadequacy, infatuation, infidelity, and other ins and out of sexuality in Sex Made Me, a book of poetry consisting of two chapbooks. The collection is diverse in form, its poems ranging from two lines to a page, the content spanning illustrations in pseudo-comic format and an excerpt from an unpublished interview with sex therapist Tammy Nelson on infidelity. That variety is the book’s strength as well as its weakness.
Some of the best pieces in the collection are the short, snappy, and simple works like “Eating Pussy”, “The Saddest Postscript of All”, and “Haiku on the English word ‘love’”, all of which pack a punch in three lines or less. The vulnerable moments are the most impactful, like a look about at the brief moments of hope amidst the dark recesses of winter in “Dark Grey Dark Grey,”, and a beautifully written piece on building up barriers to avoid hurt in new relationships in the wake of past trauma in “Lower the Red Flags”. Lev’s sense of humour about heterosexual relationships shines in “Ode to Gary Larson (Same Planet, Different Worlds)”, where she begins with a speaker’s proclamations of other-worldly love, only to respond with “Oh. I just jerk off to sexy photos you post on Instagram” (19).
Other pieces, like “New Skill”, and “I’ve Come Alive!” seem out of place in the collection, basing their structure on puns and having seemingly little to do with sexuality or relationships. “Wait Less” seems unnecessary, merely riffing on the Yeah Yeah Yeahs song “Maps” and failing to demonstrate the talent that Lev exhibits in her other pieces here.
Ultimately, Sex Made Me is an intimate journey through one author’s experience of love and sex. It’s bumpy, but worth exploring. (Nicole Partyka)