I Know the Origin of My Tremor was the winner of the 2020 Editor’s Choice Prize.
“I know what desire looks like for I’ve stood at its door for too long.” Ugochukwu Damian Okpara’s elegiac collection tugs at the nerves of our deepest yearnings. These poems explore the types and shades of loss that humankind can experience and the vibrant sorrow that loss can elicit. They dig through grief, the body, loneliness, longing, and gender dysphoria, making this collection unforgettable in its haunting vulnerability. Here, you will find a father’s ghost hovering, tremors earthquaking the page, and a narrator searching to untangle themselves from the in-between. A striking testament to survival, I Know the Origin of My Tremor reminds us how boldly a body can long for something.
“I Know the Origin of My Tremor tries again and again to be a collection of queer joy, but joy is not often found in a world that wishes you dead. So, you learn to hide the body of desire, to dig a hole and bury it deep. After all, as Damian writes, ‘Fear is the language that saves us.'”
–Lannie Stabile, author of Good Morning to Everyone Except Men Who Name Their Dogs Zeus
“In I Know the Origin of My Tremor, Ugochukwu Damian weaves the personal and universal into a world at once both familiar and strange. Trains of images arrive in Orphic strains that will haunt and elevate the reader. As one poem puts it, “Amnesia fails me yet again.” This collection makes the line come true: You will rejoice at remembering how ‘joy falls like freshwater,’ and that desire really can ‘dance like fire.’ To rephrase this terrifically talented poet, grief and forgetting have nothing on these poems.”
–Jake Sheff, author of Looting Versailles and A Kiss to Betray the Universe
“With his nimble voice and stylistic curiosity, Ugochukwu Damian lingers on the thresholds of mind, memory and physical experience in this volume. Orbiting the often haunted questions of where and what a home should be, these poems map out a true interiority for genderqueer living in the Nigerian public. Still, the palpable dream of joy is to be found both within—this body, this self, this life—and without. Here is a gifted young poet who recognises that ‘sometimes healing can be invasive’; a poet who invites such invasion—even approaches it—with admirable courage and candor.”
–Logan February, author of In The Nude