Leave It Raw
by Shakira Croce
24 poems ~ 30 pages
Price: $14.99
Publisher: Finishing Line Press
ISBN: 978-1-64662-265-8
To Order: finishinglinepress.com


Finishing Line Press’ critically acclaimed Chapbook Series proudly announces the publi-cation of Lynbrook, New York, writer Shakira Croce’s debut poetry book, Leave It Raw, on September 8, 2020. The poems explore the nuances of sexuality, marriage, motherhood, the arts, and ambition, speaking to relationships’ potential to hurt and heal. Each story offers bits of experience that provide an intimate glimpse of the intricacies of life.


“Shakira Croce’s poems are a celebration of the elemental forces–earth, air, fire, and water–and how they can both hurt and heal, both scrape us raw and scour us clean, in body, mind, and spirit. While these poems are grounded in flesh and blood humans and other creatures, and topographies of land, river, sea, and sky, they brim with imagination, excavate internal spaces to make hidden aspects of our humanity visible and legible to the reader. Leave it Raw reveals the abstract truth in concrete bits of lived experience, the emotional depths hiding within the deceptive exteriors of people, places, and things.”
–Michael Broder, author of This Life Now and Drug Disease and Free

“Shakira Croce gives readers poems that wonder about the hum of music traveling across the city, our first taste of honeysuckle, and what remains after the house fire. She shines searchlights and takes us on bus rides to the end of the line. Croce weaves together contemplations on motherhood with old love notes in the land of second honeymoons, where we find ourselves among poems that rework the elements and remind us how we are all connected. With witty and sharp lines, Leave It Raw, sends us upward past skydivers, hawks, airplanes, and ‘up against moments of eternity.’ Every poem is a wild city encounter, a cry for a witness, and a dance with survival in our hearts.”
–Juan J. Morales, author of The Handyman’s Guide to End Times

Leave it Raw, is “Like a storm waiting to break over a plain, Shakira Croce pulls at tensions and heartstrings in a debut collection filled with longing, wit, and intelligence. Through masterful imagery, Croce floats between the rural and urban with ease, pulling back the veil to see what lies beneath. These poems do not shy away from looking at life in all its beauty, violence, or complexities because within those boundaries we can begin to understand what it means to be human. As she writes in Homecoming, ‘It’s about finding / the space / to bring out what’s already / inside you.’ In Leave It Raw, Croce makes that space and empties out the heart for all to see.”
–Athena Dixon, author of The Incredible Shrinking Woman


After studying writing at Sarah Lawrence College and completing a Master’s at Pace University, Croce currently works as Director of Communications and Public Relations at New York’s largest Medicaid Special Needs Health Plan, Amida Care, in Manhattan. Croce’s poetry has been featured in several literary magazines and journals, including the New Ohio Review, Pilgrimage Press, HIV Here & Now, Transactions, Ducts, pioneertown, Permafrost Magazine, and Shark Reef. She was a featured reader in the Boundless Tales Reading Series in Queens, and she was a finalist in the Linda Flowers Literary Award competition.


by Shakira Croce

Motherhood reaches out
from the periphery, inaudible.
As a rush of feathers
signals the flock
plunging toward the tree line
of pines puncturing the biting sky.
They stand stiff, expectant of ice that will
edge along their needles and curves
of the great lake. She rocks
in my memory, in the corner
of the bar, guiding my fingers
through strands she gave me.
We weave the most incredible plait
and leave it raw,
unsewn straw running across tile.
A desire to want to produce
my own little girl before she’s gone
grows, as the dried palm now
hangs in my closet, coiled around
old boxes of newspapers.
We shove them further back to clear
space for baby things.


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