I want to say it was 2010 the first time I experienced Olivia Gatwood. In 2010 I was 39 and I think she was still in high school or newly graduated. I only mention that because ageism is real and make perceptions and expectations skewed. I believe in the ageless nature of art, but life experience does affect what one writes/speaks.
But, on with my story.
I was in Albuquerque because at the time I was doing feature performances regularly. I happened to be in town the weekend of the ABQ Grand Slam to decide which poets would represent the enchanting city at the National Poetry Slam that year.
All of the poets brought their A game that night. The stage was filled with prowess and clever wordplay the whole evening.
Then there was this high school girl that touched the mic (as we all seem to do) before cracking the air in the room open like a sudden lightning strike. She spoke with as much authority and conviction and skill as anyone twice her age or more. She had a gift.
It’s been years but I think she won that night. As I was reading this collection of poems from a woman seven years away from the incredible force of nature that I met briefly in 2010, I couldn’t help but think of back then and how much she deserves every bit of success and accolades she has gotten since then.
She has a natural level of skill that her academic experience has only made even more apparent. She is truly one of the masters of the prose poem in the way she portrays narratives in what I am guessing are autobiographical vignettes.
Reading the series of stories her poems portray (autobiographical or not) took me to the other side of the world to places I have not seen nor experienced. I was intertwined into some of her portrayals of girlhood and connected by similarity and relatability to the themes and descriptions.
BOTTOM LINE… This book is well worth the read. If you like poetry at all, you will love this book. Even if you don’t normally like poetry, I suggest this book because of its predominant narrative quality of so many of the pieces. Seriously, get this book.
Another non-poetry related post, but since The Nasty Women Project: Voices from the Resistance is giving the proceeds to Planned Parenthood, I figured it would be worth posting here.
Most of the negative reviews I’ve read about this are critiquing the political stance of this book. I am going to first review this as a writer. I am going to comment on the technical merit and surprising clarity and skill that each woman presented her story in the aftermath of the crushing Hilary defeat. It is hard in this instant gratification age to find things to hold my attention and this collection of stories did just that. For this, I am glad.
The women who presented their stories resonated with me. I may not have the same situation as they do or even have the same ideology in some things, but our shared femininity bonded me to these stories. As a member of several marginalized groups, I could relate to their stories of frustration and fear in the wake of Tiny Hands Twittler’s entrance into the presidential office. I could also relate to their insistence on maintaining hope in the face of this fear.
This book is definitely for anyone who is feeling these things during this time of extreme global upheaval at the hands of a man that the narrow majority of our country felt to be the best choice. If you are hanging on by a thin thread right now and want to do SOME kind of small act to show the power you feel is slipping away nearly daily, then purchase this book to show your support and help keep Planned Parenthood around for the people who need it for birth control and reproductive healthcare.
This book is available on Amazon.com in eBook, paperback, and hard cover.
Please consider buying a copy of this book to be a part of the resistance. Thank you.
“What does it mean to be a Poet?”
Of course, this question can be answered differently by any poet to whom it is asked. It is a very personal and subjective topic. So… what does it mean to ME? Poetry for me is something that I have done almost my whole life mostly in a diary/journal way. Just my thoughts in words arranged in decorative ways.
When I started doing poetry on stage, being a poet took on more facets of meaning. Being a poet had some responsibility to it whether I liked it or not. Even in the tiny fishbowl that I inhabited, the four or five people that witnessed me do my thing are affected in some way by my words.
Now in 2017, I am branching out to submitting my poems to literary journals in an attempt to build my poetic credibility for scholarships and grants. The nature of submission (think about the meanings of that word for a second) is that I have to find the parts of me that fit into a particular line of thought expressed by a particular publication. Being a poet has become a constant state of learning to revise but not losing my voice in my writing, editing parts without losing my narrative and my story.
Being a poet is, was, and probably always will be a multi-faceted and varied thing even within one poet’s mind and life.
So, I’m curious… what does being a poet mean to YOU?