Like Wine or Like Pain, by Francesca Leader-Print Books-Bottlecap Press

Like Wine or Like Pain, by Francesca Leader

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Francesca Leader
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Poetry, chapbook, 40 pages, from Bottlecap Features.

How does it feel to fall in love while broken? To stumble into an experience both beautiful and painful, exhilarating and terrifying? Do we retreat in order to protect unhealed wounds, or surrender to a transformative–and potentially destructive–emotional force?

The poems in this sequence are verbal ink sketches, written in moments of intense feeling, that map the psychological journey of falling in love again for the first time in two decades. They reveal a person struggling to savor and grow a new love while still processing the trauma of a failed relationship, roiled with sexual desire and wracked with anxiety. The sequence begins with intense infatuation, passes through the morass of doubt and renegotiation of boundaries, and finally arrives at a mature passion that accepts sorrow while allowing joy to dominate.

Like Wine or Like Pain is a story of reconciliation with the emotional complexity of love in a time of healing.

Francesca Leader is a writer and artist originally from Western Montana. In another life, she earned her Master's degree in Modern Japanese Literature from the Ohio State University in 2006. Her fiction, poetry, and essays have appeared or are forthcoming in Five South, J Journal, Barren, Funicular, Wigleaf, Milk Candy Review, Literary Mama, Hooligan, and elsewhere. Her artwork has been featured on the covers of Cobra Milk, the Adanna Literary Review, the Harpy Hybrid Review, and Cream Scene Carnival, and she regularly contributes commissioned illustrations to Flash Frog. She was named the winner of the Southeast Review’s 2023 World’s Best Short-Short Story Contest, and has been nominated for various other awards. Learn more about her work at