The Chapbook

A Literary Journal of Chapbooks

Side Effects May Include by Leah Nielsen

Side Effects cover

The Chapbook is proud to announce its first publication of a monographic work:

Side Effects May Include by Leah Nielsen

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Praise for Side Effects May Include

The unexpected side effects of Leah Nielsen’s Side Effects May Include’s sometimes long-lined, sometimes fragmented, often graphically depicted stanzas, with their harrowing honesty, poignant declarations, and delicious dark humor, include everything from pleasure to, quite frankly, awe. The undauntable human spirit is poetically at work here. There is simply no other way to explain the courage and lucidity it takes to write about physical pain while enduring it. I love this book. It is gorgeous and fun and heartbreaking, a profound tale of pluck and transformation.

Maureen Seaton, author of Fibonacci Batman: New and Selected (1991-2011).

“You may be in a cave of clouds,” or on your sickbed, “the nebulizer/bombilating on the nightstand.” Leah Nielsen’ s Side Effects May Include is a relentlessly ingenious investigation into the taxonomies of pain, memory, and experience, the language in which we try and fail to dress these things to make them fixed and knowable. This dossier-like chapbook charts  the peace which surpasseth all understanding (and is therefore useless) and the pain which is as present and familiar as one’s own “Dead Father” is irrevocably lost.  So pain is darted to pleasure, loss to love, unbearable presence to irreparable absence. This book’s mental toughness is extreme, and yet its truth-telling clears space for a surprising tenderness to develop, as close as holding one’s husband’s hand, a persistent syndrome: chronic love.

Joyelle McSweeney, author of The Red Bird, The Commandrine and Other Poems, and Percussion Grenade: Poems and Plays. 

Leah Nielsen’s Side Effects May Include takes the idea of appropriated forms about as far as one canQuestionnaires,  tables, charts all find their way in here. Like the Czech poet, Miroslav Holub, her language is also appropriated, using official language to get at emotions and emotive language to undercut the coldness of static forms. The result is a whole new way of looking at the world. At one point, for example, she redefines words such as Sore (in terms of the feel in one’s arms) and Unbearable (about lost love) in short prose poems as part of a questionnaire on pain tolerance. Another poem derives from a bus journey but is also a journey through a range of negative towards more positive feelings. Needless to say, this is a highly original collection that makes us rethink what “side effects” really are– those deep fears and joys buried beneath the ordinary language that seems detached on the surface but boils underneath like a lurking volcano.

Richard Jackson, author of Unauthorized Autobiography: New and Selected Poems, Heartwall, and Richard Jackson: Greatest Hits. 

Side Effects May Include by Leah Nielsen.

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