BOOK CORNER: Poet explores artistic identity, love, desire in new collection

By Marissa Wells

Contributing Writer

“A Throat Full of Forest-Dirt,” by Bri Stokes, is a poignant work of poetry that delves into the author’s connection with desire, exploring it through the lenses of womanhood, artistic identity and citizenship in a troubled America. This exploration is carried out by reflecting on a doomed romance with a childhood friend.

“‘Forest-Dirt’ was inspired by the feeling of desire itself, and all of the different ways in which it was showing up in my life and in the environments I found myself in,” Stokes said. “Desires for peace, for recognition, for self-love, for lost love, for liberation and for creative inspiration.”

The book is made up of a series of poems inspired by different events and experiences Stokes faced over the course of the past two years. It was written at a time the author was experiencing a spiritual awakening after reconnecting and falling in love with someone she grew up with.

“It was like opening Pandora’s Box, and all these long-lost feelings of love and desire and terror and self-awareness and mysticism kind of spilled out of me, in a way I was finally old enough to identify and work through,” Stokes said. “It was, essentially, the process of becoming an adult. This book came to fruition in the midst of that process.”

Within the book, Stokes explores themes of love, identity, anxiety, mysticism and more through her poetry. Her favorite poem in the book is “Afterbirth,” which testifies to the power of self-love.

“It was a very difficult poem to complete, partly because it’s so vulnerable, partly because I set out to make it longer than the pieces I usually write, which felt like tackling a brand-new beast,” Stokes said. 

“A Throat Full of Forest-Dirt” will move readers as they accompany Stokes on her journey. 

“I hope ‘Forest-Dirt’ opens readers up to new ways of seeing the world we live in, that it gives them the freedom and safety to explore and express the depths of their feelings, and that it helps them believe in love, magic, and in themselves,” Stokes said.

In addition to being an author and poet, Stokes is a curator, editor and producer. She is based in South Los Angeles. For more information about the author and her work, visit 

“A Throat Full of Forest-Dirt” is available for $10 via It will be available soon at North Figueroa Bookshop in Los Angeles.