Grit and Tender Membrane came out of a cross country trip that bisexual poet Samantha Barrow made on motorcycle to perform performance poetry. Gutsy, right? Or perhaps I should say, more accurately, Grit and Tender Membrane came out of a cross country trip that poet Samantha Barrow made on motorcycle to perform performance poetry at small town bars. Yup, really gutsy. Oh and wait it gets better: she got a prestigious Leeway Art and Change grant to do it.The book is written journal style and swings with Barrow's moods. The black blurb from Harvey Kataz of the Athens Boys Choir describes the book as “smart and sassy, empowering and brave. You can feel soul oozing out of each word.” And that's the straight up truth. Even when the author is technically using prose the prose itself reads like poetry. And then there's the poetry, that reads like, you guessed it poetry.
What is perhaps most interesting in the book is not the straight-forward adventures of Barrow as attempts to perform an erotic poem in a biker bar or fix her bike on a deserted strip of an Alabama highway. Instead, it's the way the overarching theme of loneliness comes through, even in lighter moments. Once, in a conversation with the author, Barrow mentioned that the tenor of American poetry has changed with recent technological advances. “No one's lonely in the bus station anymore” said Barrow, “you can always get in touch with someone.” In the pages of Grit and Tender Membrane, Barrow is not afraid to confront that bit of loneliness of being a a queer on the open road.