Before receiving an ARC of this book from Penguin‘s First to Read program, I was unfamiliar with poet and activist Andrea Gibson. This was the perfect little collection of poems to read while I was visiting family (and their related tensions) over the holiday season.
The collection is broken into three main sections (1: On Love, 2: On the World; and 3: On Becoming) and I found that most of the poems that resonated with me were in the second section (On the World), which is likely partially influenced by the fact that I spent the holidays in a house helmed by a conservative patriarch.
A lot of the poems in the first section (On Love) will probably be enjoyed by those that adore the Instagram poems about love — some were a little too gooey for me personally, but will probably also be the ones that are recreated with pretty lettering on Tumblr and Instagram. The third section (On Becoming) discusses coming out experiences in different ways (coming out of certain religious ideologies, not strongly identifying with the strict confines of gender, and who Gibson becomes romantically entangled with) and I can imagine they will be beautiful, reassuring messages to read when navigating similar experiences.
Some of the poems struck me more as mantras and calls to action than poems, but because this collection is written by an activist, they didn’t feel too out of place when included here.
The poems are all untitled so it’s hard for me list which poems I enjoyed the most, but I’ve included my two favorites below.
“They want you thinking you’re
bad at being a girl instead of
thinking you’re good at being
yourself. They want you to buy
your blush from a store instead
of letting it bloom from your
butterflies. They’re telling you
to blend in, like you’ve never
seen how a blender works. like
they think you’ve
never seen the mess
from the blade.” (p. 96)
“Promise that who we
weep and fight and
tear down the sun
for will not only
be our own faces in
the mirror.” (p. 87)
Disclaimer: I was provided with a digital copy of this book for free from Penguin via First to Read. All opinions expressed in the review are my own and have not been influenced by Penguin or First to Read.
Publication Date: 23 January 2018 by Plume Books. Format: E-book ARC.