Lambert has shared the luminous cover as well as a sample poem for 'Shame Is an Ocean I Swim Across'

By David Canfield
March 15, 2018 at 10:00 AM EDT
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Credit: Shervin Lainez

Mary Lambert is set to her release her debut collection of poems, EW has learned exclusively.

The acclaimed singer-songwriter and LGBTQ activist has written the brutally honest Shame Is an Ocean I Swim Across, described as “a beacon to anyone who’s ever been knocked down — and picked themselves up again.” In verse that deals with sexual assault, mental illness, and body acceptance, Lambert emerges as an important new voice in poetry with this collection, providing strength and resilience even in the darkest of times.

Perhaps best known for her Grammy-nominated single “Same Love,” which she memorably performed at the 2014 Grammys to a live mass wedding of 33 gay and straight couples, Lambert revealed to EW the inspiration behind her collection. “I found so much catharsis in writing these poems, sometimes I feel like this is more a chronology of my therapy than poetry, but I am proud to share it,” she said in an exclusive statement. “I hope that people who pick up the book feel like an old friend is on the other side. Or even just have a good laugh or a long cry or feel whatever it is they need to feel. I always intend for my art to be an invitation: Whether it’s singing pop songs on the radio or writing sad poems about my family history, my deepest wish is for the storytelling to resonate, for it to be an extension of my heart, even if it’s messy and uncomfortable and specific.

“I think humanity is in a strange, strange place, and I believe radical vulnerability is what will heal the world. That’s what I care most about.”

Lambert has also exclusively shared with EW the cover for Shame Is an Ocean I Swim Across (with artwork by Micaela Lattanzio, photo by Shervin Lainez, and design by Carol Ly), well as a poem from the collection. Read on below.

Credit: Macmillan

“Why I Slept With Makeup on for Five Years,” by Mary Lambert

when i am sleeping,
i want to be a movie girl.
i want my hair to be cascading around my shoulders
lips still bright and eyelashes deep
want my monster to shine with a sephora glow

want you to see the pretty parts of me, even
angle my face to seem thinner in the dark
i am afraid
of my exposed naked, mostly my ugly-:
this is my body
and i am terrified
of the space it takes up

i wonder how many women
are painting themselves into movie girls
while they sleep
angling their faces alien
to themselves, an unnecessary surrender
to things that kill them,
to things that are not real

I tell myself in the mirror,
applying the second coat of mascara:
these things are not real

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