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Diannely Antigua’s debut collection Ugly Music is a cacophonous symphony of reality, dream, trauma, and obsession. It reaches into the corners of love and loss where survival and surrender are blurred. The poems span a traumatic early childhood, a religious adolescence, and later a womanhood that grapples with learning how to create an identity informed by, yet in spite of Diannely Antigua’s debut collection Ugly Music is a cacophonous symphony of reality, dream, trauma, and obsession. It reaches into the corners of love and loss where survival and surrender are blurred. The poems span a traumatic early childhood, a religious adolescence, and later a womanhood that grapples with learning how to create an identity informed by, yet in spite of, those challenges. What follows is an exquisitely vulgar voice, unafraid to draw attention to the distasteful, to speak a truth created by a collage of song and confession, diary and praise. It is an account of observation and dissociation, the danger of simultaneously being inside and outside the experiences that mold a life. Ugly Music emerges as a story of witness, a realization that even the strangest things exist on earth and deserve to live.


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Diannely Antigua’s debut collection Ugly Music is a cacophonous symphony of reality, dream, trauma, and obsession. It reaches into the corners of love and loss where survival and surrender are blurred. The poems span a traumatic early childhood, a religious adolescence, and later a womanhood that grapples with learning how to create an identity informed by, yet in spite of Diannely Antigua’s debut collection Ugly Music is a cacophonous symphony of reality, dream, trauma, and obsession. It reaches into the corners of love and loss where survival and surrender are blurred. The poems span a traumatic early childhood, a religious adolescence, and later a womanhood that grapples with learning how to create an identity informed by, yet in spite of, those challenges. What follows is an exquisitely vulgar voice, unafraid to draw attention to the distasteful, to speak a truth created by a collage of song and confession, diary and praise. It is an account of observation and dissociation, the danger of simultaneously being inside and outside the experiences that mold a life. Ugly Music emerges as a story of witness, a realization that even the strangest things exist on earth and deserve to live.

30 review for Ugly Music

  1. 4 out of 5

    Kate Gaskin

    In Ugly Music, Diannely Antigua strips away the ugly parts of what it means to be human, examining each with a precise eye and uncanny lyricism. Girlhood and womanhood are reduced to their beautiful and vulgar particulars. Faith meets heresy as erotic, romantic, and familial love thread through the book. Antigua takes the aspects of femininity women and girls are often punished for and polishes them until they sing.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Hannah Warren

    Antigua's collection tugs at your gut, asking you to re-evaluate the way you think about language, sex, and prayer. A powerful reading experience. "you’re just another locust in a swarm of other locusts you’re Pharoah or Moses in one bed dreaming of basket babies praying to God you weren’t the firstborn" Antigua's collection tugs at your gut, asking you to re-evaluate the way you think about language, sex, and prayer. A powerful reading experience. "you’re just another locust in a swarm of other locusts you’re Pharoah or Moses in one bed dreaming of basket babies praying to God you weren’t the firstborn"

  3. 5 out of 5

    Mehrnoosh Torbatnejad

    I was getting more stressed with every poem I read because I knew I was getting closer to the end, and that’s not where I ever wanted to be.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Will Schmit

    I am a 67 year old Caucasian Midwestern male. My perspective on this book of poems is that of a guest unsure of an invitation. Ugly Music is poetry of a high order. Craft, inventiveness, discipline, daring, specificity, umbrage, lyricism abound from an underground that by rights ought to rule our attention. “I peel the corners lapkin after lapkin, and dear God, it’s the holiest thought I’ve had today.”

  5. 5 out of 5

    Karin

    Beautiful, aching collection of family, memory, faith, desire wrought with violence, sadness, sweet honesty. Antigua’s approach is stereophonic, strung with little lights of hope and love. Her voice is clear, singular, versed and chorused. Her poems are a gift, honey-golden and wishing to be tasted.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Alissa Hattman

    These poems are beautiful, rebellious pieces of art. There is a wildness to this collection—a woman negotiating memories of abuse, miscarriage, sex, religion and identity with honesty and grace. Ugly Music is written in seven parts—verse, chorus, verse, chorus, bridge, chorus, outro. The sequencing is perfect and I was struck by the careful arrangement of stanza breaks and spacing, especially in “Some Notes on Love.” I cannot recommend this collection enough. I read it, I cried, then I read it a These poems are beautiful, rebellious pieces of art. There is a wildness to this collection—a woman negotiating memories of abuse, miscarriage, sex, religion and identity with honesty and grace. Ugly Music is written in seven parts—verse, chorus, verse, chorus, bridge, chorus, outro. The sequencing is perfect and I was struck by the careful arrangement of stanza breaks and spacing, especially in “Some Notes on Love.” I cannot recommend this collection enough. I read it, I cried, then I read it again. Out loud.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Ellie Kissell

    Certainly visceral and gripping, with special attention paid to the more grotesque aspects of femininity, this collection of poetry follows the narrator along an increasingly troubled life full of faith, family, depression, and sex. That being said, the format was at times confusing and difficult to piece together — the lack of chronology made the narrator’s motives and emotions hard to string together. However, it was in all a fascinating study both of what it means to be a woman in the modern Certainly visceral and gripping, with special attention paid to the more grotesque aspects of femininity, this collection of poetry follows the narrator along an increasingly troubled life full of faith, family, depression, and sex. That being said, the format was at times confusing and difficult to piece together — the lack of chronology made the narrator’s motives and emotions hard to string together. However, it was in all a fascinating study both of what it means to be a woman in the modern world and what it means to feel without control over one’s own life.

  8. 4 out of 5

    h

    4.5

  9. 4 out of 5

    Robin

    Absolutely stunning and, at times, painful-- the title Ugly Music is an appropriate one. These poems are beautiful music about the ugly facets of humanity.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Claudia Cortese

    I love this book! See my review of it at Muzzle Magazine: https://www.muzzlemagazine.com/review... I love this book! See my review of it at Muzzle Magazine: https://www.muzzlemagazine.com/review...

  11. 5 out of 5

    Emily Pérez

    Religion, sex, abuse, mental illness, suicide attempts, praise for the impure, and a fierce drive to make it all sing drive Diannely Antigua’s crackling debut, Ugly Music. In her insight-filled interview with Adroit, Antigua says “My book really should have a disclaimer or a trigger warning” (and perhaps it should), but more jolting than the subject matter is the liminal space in which she holds the reader, somewhere between wanting and not, between desire and devastation. Sex, in its sugar and s Religion, sex, abuse, mental illness, suicide attempts, praise for the impure, and a fierce drive to make it all sing drive Diannely Antigua’s crackling debut, Ugly Music. In her insight-filled interview with Adroit, Antigua says “My book really should have a disclaimer or a trigger warning” (and perhaps it should), but more jolting than the subject matter is the liminal space in which she holds the reader, somewhere between wanting and not, between desire and devastation. Sex, in its sugar and spoil, is at the heart of Ugly Music. “Suggested Sad Songs for Broken Hearts” opens with the speaker’s central conflict: “I need to teach myself / that not everything is about sex. / But I am at this desk to make money / so I can pay my rent, so I can afford / a room to have sex in.” The poem wryly pokes fun at the speaker, but even her focused desire cannot remain uncomplicated, and by the end she is “pushing sex / headfirst out a tiny window.” Though sex is largely sought after and celebrated in this collection—deliciously so in poems like “When Booty Call Turns into Love”—reasons for wanting its defenestration also emerge. In “Picked,” sex is stained by childhood abuse—“Maybe he touched me to reruns // of The Brady Bunch, how I never trusted the father / in a room with them, girls, especially.” In “Diary Entry #4: Atonement,” Jesus becomes a groomer—sitting at the “computer chair,” about to “graduate this year” and the young speaker notes “He’s not / a virgin.” complete review here: https://rhinopoetry.org/reviews/ugly-...

  12. 5 out of 5

    Tina

  13. 4 out of 5

    Aysha

  14. 5 out of 5

    Kali Cole

  15. 5 out of 5

    John Madera

  16. 5 out of 5

    Rita

  17. 4 out of 5

    Alexandria

  18. 5 out of 5

    Caryl

  19. 5 out of 5

    Stacy

  20. 5 out of 5

    George Abraham

  21. 4 out of 5

    Anna

  22. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

  23. 4 out of 5

    Amanda Picardi

  24. 4 out of 5

    Havelock

  25. 4 out of 5

    Shari

  26. 5 out of 5

    Rogan Kelly

  27. 5 out of 5

    Amy Boh

  28. 5 out of 5

    Lisa

  29. 5 out of 5

    Lauren Campbell

  30. 5 out of 5

    Dylan

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