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One of the most recognizable young poets in America, Olivia Gatwood dazzles with her tribute to contemporary American womanhood in her debut book, New American Best Friend. Gatwood's poems deftly deconstruct traditional stereotypes. The focus shifts from childhood to adulthood, gender to sexuality, violence to joy. And always and inexorably, the book moves toward celebrati One of the most recognizable young poets in America, Olivia Gatwood dazzles with her tribute to contemporary American womanhood in her debut book, New American Best Friend. Gatwood's poems deftly deconstruct traditional stereotypes. The focus shifts from childhood to adulthood, gender to sexuality, violence to joy. And always and inexorably, the book moves toward celebration, culminating in a series of odes: odes to the body, to tough women, to embracing your own journey in all its failures and triumphs.


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One of the most recognizable young poets in America, Olivia Gatwood dazzles with her tribute to contemporary American womanhood in her debut book, New American Best Friend. Gatwood's poems deftly deconstruct traditional stereotypes. The focus shifts from childhood to adulthood, gender to sexuality, violence to joy. And always and inexorably, the book moves toward celebrati One of the most recognizable young poets in America, Olivia Gatwood dazzles with her tribute to contemporary American womanhood in her debut book, New American Best Friend. Gatwood's poems deftly deconstruct traditional stereotypes. The focus shifts from childhood to adulthood, gender to sexuality, violence to joy. And always and inexorably, the book moves toward celebration, culminating in a series of odes: odes to the body, to tough women, to embracing your own journey in all its failures and triumphs.

30 review for New American Best Friend

  1. 4 out of 5

    Bree Hill

    "Life comes fast. One minute you're taking typing classes for your new secretary job in the World Trade Center and the next it's all almost over, life I mean, but I kicked and screamed my way through it, and so will you." This is small piece from the very last poem in New American Best Friend called "Ode To The Women On Long Island." This small quote from the poem in my opinion summarizes up this entire collection of poetry. Olivia Gatwood paints such a descriptive and vivid portrait of adolescen "Life comes fast. One minute you're taking typing classes for your new secretary job in the World Trade Center and the next it's all almost over, life I mean, but I kicked and screamed my way through it, and so will you." This is small piece from the very last poem in New American Best Friend called "Ode To The Women On Long Island." This small quote from the poem in my opinion summarizes up this entire collection of poetry. Olivia Gatwood paints such a descriptive and vivid portrait of adolescence. It almost makes you nostalgic, but only after briefly making you cringe a little at some of the things you wasted your time completely obsessing over like changing things about yourself, pretending not to like certain things you absolutely love just to fit in with the popular girl. This collection took me back to those long hot summer days of being young and reckless with friends in poems like Dry Season, 2003. The poem Alternate Universe In Which I Am Unfazed By The Men Who Do Not Love Me makes me seriously wish it was written back when I was 18 and leaving the house to experience the world on my own. It could've saved me so much unnecessary time and heartbreak. This collection is short and I could've totally read 50 more pages of whatever Olivia Gatwood wanted to share with us. But even though it is a a short collection it is sprinkled all throughout of a young woman who through it all kept kicking and screaming. Definitely a must read for anyone who is a poetry fan.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Amelia's Fantastical Bookends

    I picked up this book because I saw one of Gatwood's readings of her poem "Ode to the Women on Long Island," and I thoroughly enjoyed it. So, being me, I decided to actually pick up her other works, realizing that maybe, just maybe, I had found a contemporary poet that I liked. And I was very wrong. This.... this is not poetry, or at least it doesn't seem like that to me. The same issues that other people had with Rupi Kaur's "Milk in Honey" in how it seemed to "try to hard" and was just a couple I picked up this book because I saw one of Gatwood's readings of her poem "Ode to the Women on Long Island," and I thoroughly enjoyed it. So, being me, I decided to actually pick up her other works, realizing that maybe, just maybe, I had found a contemporary poet that I liked. And I was very wrong. This.... this is not poetry, or at least it doesn't seem like that to me. The same issues that other people had with Rupi Kaur's "Milk in Honey" in how it seemed to "try to hard" and was just a couple of sentences in lower case all mashed together to make "poetry," that was how I felt about this collection. It felt whiny and immature and honestly, I understand that as women, it's important to talk about plights and problems with the world around us, but this book did a horrible job and further exemplified why there are some people in the world who like to dub feminists as "feminazis." Also, what is it with modern day poets and talking complaining their period? Like holy shit we GET it you have a PERIOD wow how INCONVENIENT for you to EXPERIENCE that phenomena that literally HALF OF THE ENTIRE HUMAN RACE EXPERIENCES WITHOUT COMPLAINT. Like as someone who gets a period, I thought this was a really shallow attempt to seek pity from people around ya. And honestly Gatwood, I don't feel a lick of sorrow for you for experiencing the same thing every other woman experiences. And also if everyone could collectively just stop writing period poetry the world would be a better place. This book was full of what were I suppose to be sad stories about growing up in the face of poverty, sexism, lost loves, change, personal growth and bullies but I just couldn't connect to the narrator. It felt so shallow and narcissistic and just excruciatingly boring that I couldn't get into it. And when I wasn't bored, I was pissed off and thinking to myself "so this is what passes for poetry today? Fuuucccckkkkkkkkkk." I ended up skimming the poems near the end because my headache was growing by the second every time I read another word in this book of "poems." So yeah. I know a lot of people liked this so maybe, at the end of the day, poetry just isn't for me. Specifically modern poetry. Or possibly any poetry besides the work of Mr. Edgar Allan Poe. Maybe I just ask for too much when it comes to my poetry, but if I have to hear another word about sad cigarettes and lipsticks and boys I'm gonna bite somebody's head off. An extra star for the "Ode to the Women on Long Island," because it's the only one I liked, but other than this I found it overwhelmingly dull and pointless.

  3. 5 out of 5

    A. Blumer

    I saw this one in the GR Awards for a Poetry nomination, and a good friend happened to have given me this book a while ago. It was still on my Unread pile so I was like "what the heck?" It was just a little book. It was more than just a little book. It was growing up with blood seeping through your teeth. It was falling in love while watching them die horribly. It was looking at trash trampled by the everyday commute and finding a way to dine on it by candle light. I wish I could've voted for this I saw this one in the GR Awards for a Poetry nomination, and a good friend happened to have given me this book a while ago. It was still on my Unread pile so I was like "what the heck?" It was just a little book. It was more than just a little book. It was growing up with blood seeping through your teeth. It was falling in love while watching them die horribly. It was looking at trash trampled by the everyday commute and finding a way to dine on it by candle light. I wish I could've voted for this one. The only reason I'm not giving this five stars may seem a little petty to some, but this author stays very true to a traditional(?) form of poetry--does it very well! But. I'm board with it. I'm sorry. I just am. The four-line free standing stanzas, the run-on blocks of prose -poetry. Sigh... I get it, it's a challenge. Or I don't get it, and I'm going to regret this review. Either way, I still recommend this one. ".... One more thing, when they call you a bitch, say thank you, say thank you, very much."

  4. 4 out of 5

    João Calafate

    Amazing poetry. Some of it I read, some of it my girlfriend read to me, and another bit I listened to Olivia Gatwood's performances in Button Poetry. It was perfect in every way. Every person, female or male or in between, should read this. Amazing poetry. Some of it I read, some of it my girlfriend read to me, and another bit I listened to Olivia Gatwood's performances in Button Poetry. It was perfect in every way. Every person, female or male or in between, should read this.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Sasha Gabrielle Brooks

    this is one of the best poetry books i've read in a while. one of the few i've read where i'm actually invested in what the poet is saying instead of feeling like i'm staring and turning the pages. this is one of the best poetry books i've read in a while. one of the few i've read where i'm actually invested in what the poet is saying instead of feeling like i'm staring and turning the pages.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Norah Una Sumner

    Definitely a poetry book full of powerful messages and important themes but it just wasn't for me. Like her mother, I believe, said in one of the poems, this doesn't seem "unfazed" but rather "very fazed" to me. Definitely a poetry book full of powerful messages and important themes but it just wasn't for me. Like her mother, I believe, said in one of the poems, this doesn't seem "unfazed" but rather "very fazed" to me.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Leah Harter

    Hello everyone, today I am writing about a book that is a little bit different. Normally, I only talk about fiction on here, but there will probably be more poetry in the near future. I will admit that going into this I was already a little bit biased. I have watched Olivia Gatwood’s slam poems countless times. I was ecstatic when I learned of her book and I am extremely biased. With that being said, I highly recommend reading this book. My Rating: A Poems: This book includes some of my favorites Hello everyone, today I am writing about a book that is a little bit different. Normally, I only talk about fiction on here, but there will probably be more poetry in the near future. I will admit that going into this I was already a little bit biased. I have watched Olivia Gatwood’s slam poems countless times. I was ecstatic when I learned of her book and I am extremely biased. With that being said, I highly recommend reading this book. My Rating: A Poems: This book includes some of my favorites including, Alternative Universe,Ode to My Bitch Face, Ode to the Woman on Long Island, and Manic Pixie Dream Girl. These all address women’s issues and sexism. Quite honestly, they are very moving pieces. Accompanying these, there are also many new poems, most of these documenting the female experience. The words have a point and an edge. They cut at you until all you are left with is something raw and real. This unforgiving method of detailing experiences that women share is extremely effective. It makes rampant sexism and misogyny hard to ignore. In fact, I have felt as though I cannot be complacent since I’ve read it. Composition: New American Best Friend is arranged to tell the story of growing up female. The series of poems is carefully arranged, meant to lead you through the stages of Olivia Gatwood’s life. However, many of her stories are ones that I have seen played out with a slightly different flavor in my own life. It captures this gritty and honest tone of being female that is often glossed over and made pretty. The things that we never talk about are not kept secret and hidden here. There is something about reading these poems that makes you painfully aware that being a woman has its blatant truths, ones that we knew of but never openly acknowledge. These include, period underwear, hair in the drain of the shower, unfulfilling sex, and being jealous of the conventionally attractive women. Overall, it was a fantastic read. Ending Rating: 9.5/10, I wish it was longer. I wish that there was more. Would I recommend it? Yes, read it. It’s so good. Is this book on your to-read list? Thoughts on Slam Poetry? Do you prefer reading or listening to poetry?

  8. 4 out of 5

    Gabe

    Olivia Gatwood is everything I like about poetry. I have been a huge fan of her poetry from YouTube videos. Her delivery and performance is absolutely amazing. I was worried that a reading her poetry on paper wouldn't be as good as seeing it performed. I wonder if I would have enjoyed her poetry as much without seeing her perform. But either way I really enjoyed New American Best Friend. Olivia Gatwood has one of the best voices I have ever read in poetry. Olivia Gatwood is super intelligent, fu Olivia Gatwood is everything I like about poetry. I have been a huge fan of her poetry from YouTube videos. Her delivery and performance is absolutely amazing. I was worried that a reading her poetry on paper wouldn't be as good as seeing it performed. I wonder if I would have enjoyed her poetry as much without seeing her perform. But either way I really enjoyed New American Best Friend. Olivia Gatwood has one of the best voices I have ever read in poetry. Olivia Gatwood is super intelligent, full of sass, and very strong. Maybe I am not the target audience for her poetry but I think that is what makes it more impressive to me. Sure, I've never had a lot of experiences expressed in this book but she uses strong language to make me understand her and why she feels this way. I just loved all of these poems. I wish there were more. I would recommend this to just about anyone. It is very in your face and doesn't beat around the bush or shy around topics. I would also suggest watching any and all videos of Olivia Gatwood. She is definitely one of my favorite poets.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Alyssia Cooke

    I heard one of her poems and was impressed. I bought the book. I was less impressed. This didn't strike me as clever or witty. There were a few moments that caught me, but overall my impression was one of bored disappointment. Much of it isn't poetry as much as it is random short sentences stuck together with little rhythm or effort. The tone of the poems left me cold; I find little interest in periods, panties, lipstick and tampons in honesty. I don't find my own interesting to write about and I I heard one of her poems and was impressed. I bought the book. I was less impressed. This didn't strike me as clever or witty. There were a few moments that caught me, but overall my impression was one of bored disappointment. Much of it isn't poetry as much as it is random short sentences stuck together with little rhythm or effort. The tone of the poems left me cold; I find little interest in periods, panties, lipstick and tampons in honesty. I don't find my own interesting to write about and I would be equally bored by a male poet waxing bloody lyrical about wet dreams, hair gel and raging hormones. Much of it felt immature and two dimensional, with perhaps two poems having actual poignant moments at the end. I need to read some Felix Dennis now. He is a superbly clever and dryly witty poet who cam capture humanity at it's best and worst... and with barely a breath between lines.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Brandon Forsyth

    I can't think of a better review of this than Carrie Fountain's, which is blurbed on the back of the book: "these poems are the future." The last time a book hit me this hard was Melissa Broder's SO SAD TODAY, and I think the two of those books are truly exciting in the way they carve out space for women to speak about their experiences with sexuality. I really wish this had been called something more evocative though, like "Ode To My Bitch Face", which speaks better to the raw, visceral quality I can't think of a better review of this than Carrie Fountain's, which is blurbed on the back of the book: "these poems are the future." The last time a book hit me this hard was Melissa Broder's SO SAD TODAY, and I think the two of those books are truly exciting in the way they carve out space for women to speak about their experiences with sexuality. I really wish this had been called something more evocative though, like "Ode To My Bitch Face", which speaks better to the raw, visceral quality of the poems here.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Katherine

    Gatwood is real and raw and unafraid to address the uncomfortable. Her introspection into coming of age has something in it for everyone. She has a voice that is all her own, even when that voice doesn't quite know who it is. You may just find yourself coming to appreciate the world around you and things you hadn't before in a new light after having briefly glimpsed the world through her lens. Gatwood is real and raw and unafraid to address the uncomfortable. Her introspection into coming of age has something in it for everyone. She has a voice that is all her own, even when that voice doesn't quite know who it is. You may just find yourself coming to appreciate the world around you and things you hadn't before in a new light after having briefly glimpsed the world through her lens.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Amanda Van Parys

    Okay, I'm not a fan of poetry, like, at all but Olivia Gatwood's poetry is fundamentally badass and please read it. You'll see why when you do. Read for the 2018 Book Riot Read Harder Challenge: A one-sitting book Okay, I'm not a fan of poetry, like, at all but Olivia Gatwood's poetry is fundamentally badass and please read it. You'll see why when you do. Read for the 2018 Book Riot Read Harder Challenge: A one-sitting book

  13. 4 out of 5

    Rowan Bradley

    I'm consistently amazed by Olivia Gatwood I'm consistently amazed by Olivia Gatwood

  14. 4 out of 5

    Sonia

    I love all Olivia’s performances on Button Poetry so I picked this up. Not mind blowing but not bad either. A 3,5 stars read.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Hazel

    I want to be Olivia Gatwood when I grow up.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Alicia Billingsley

    Amazing loved every piece of it! If you love poetry this is a must read. Just bought it and read it. Going to buy the non kindle version to hold in my hand. I need more. A few favorite lines "Like maybe he is the kind of man who only screams when he is underwater or lets me feel how strong his fingers are without actually touching me.".... "left over from the other universe are hours and hours of waiting for him to kiss me and here, they are just hours."..... "head spun three-sixty exorcist bitc Amazing loved every piece of it! If you love poetry this is a must read. Just bought it and read it. Going to buy the non kindle version to hold in my hand. I need more. A few favorite lines "Like maybe he is the kind of man who only screams when he is underwater or lets me feel how strong his fingers are without actually touching me.".... "left over from the other universe are hours and hours of waiting for him to kiss me and here, they are just hours."..... "head spun three-sixty exorcist bitch just trying to buy a soda just trying to do the laundry just trying to dance at the party then someone asks you to smile."

  17. 5 out of 5

    Alicia

    Absolutely astounding.

  18. 5 out of 5

    sahar

    best work of poetry i've ever read. i love you olivia gatwood. ➵ 5 stars. best work of poetry i've ever read. i love you olivia gatwood. ➵ 5 stars.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Rachel Small

    I admittedly do not read as much poetry as I would like to, but I've been a huge fan of Gatwood ever since I stumbled across her spoken pieces. This collection really captured her voice, and I look forward for the next piece that she publishes. I admittedly do not read as much poetry as I would like to, but I've been a huge fan of Gatwood ever since I stumbled across her spoken pieces. This collection really captured her voice, and I look forward for the next piece that she publishes.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Nicole Johnson

    Another fantastic poetry collection from Olivia Gatwood. I can't wait to see what she publishes in the future! Another fantastic poetry collection from Olivia Gatwood. I can't wait to see what she publishes in the future!

  21. 5 out of 5

    Cody Lakin

    Wow. I work in a bookstore, and I discovered this small collection by accident. When books of poetry come in, I like to open them up to a random page and see how I feel about just one of the poems. In this way I sift through a lot of bad poetry—mostly the “internet poets,” who are so popular lately, and rarely deserving of it. But I opened “New American Best Friend” to a random page, read a poem called “What Sex Becomes,” and actually said “Oh, wow” involuntarily aloud, had to take a moment to ab Wow. I work in a bookstore, and I discovered this small collection by accident. When books of poetry come in, I like to open them up to a random page and see how I feel about just one of the poems. In this way I sift through a lot of bad poetry—mostly the “internet poets,” who are so popular lately, and rarely deserving of it. But I opened “New American Best Friend” to a random page, read a poem called “What Sex Becomes,” and actually said “Oh, wow” involuntarily aloud, had to take a moment to absorb it, and couldn’t get it out of my mind or my heart for the rest of the day. So a few days later I bought the book. It is a painfully short collection, but it is collectively a masterwork. So much so, I would call Olivia Gatwood one of the best contemporary poets. She’s amazing. Her poems are vivid and colored by attitude and personality, and evoke so much with so little. And unlike the annoying internet poetry floating around which is primarily meaningful words arranged to look like a poem even though so often there’s very little that’s “poetic” about them, Gatwood, on the other hand, paints pictures with her words, and finds rhythm and power in the arrangements and placements of words. It’s poetic and evocative, even reminding me at times of the power of Raymond Carver’s poetry. These aren’t just emotions in a vacuum, they’re scenes, images, feelings, through the adolescence and growing up and life of an individual with a clear and vivid poetic eye. “New American Best Friend” is stunning, breathtaking. Already I plan to carry it around and read and reread it often, as I do with my favorite collections of poetry.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Bryan

    I can appreciate the writing style. She is obviously a very talented poet. She has a sharp wit, a direct, dry writing style that doesn't bother with polishing up the rough spots. If it's difficult, it's difficult... that's how she will write about it. However, it just wasn't the book for me. I suppose it's because I'm a guy, as cliche as that sounds. But honestly, I don't know how I'm supposed to react to poems about period panties. Some of the poems were pure gold (Ode to Women of Long Island, Dr I can appreciate the writing style. She is obviously a very talented poet. She has a sharp wit, a direct, dry writing style that doesn't bother with polishing up the rough spots. If it's difficult, it's difficult... that's how she will write about it. However, it just wasn't the book for me. I suppose it's because I'm a guy, as cliche as that sounds. But honestly, I don't know how I'm supposed to react to poems about period panties. Some of the poems were pure gold (Ode to Women of Long Island, Dry Season 2003), but overall it was a collection that just wasn't for me. I can definitely see where it would be perfect for others.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Klarisa ☾✵

    Update as of 11/24/18 Three months later. Reads two poetry collections and completely changes personal rules. 4/5 stars. 8/25/18 I've decided to make some attempts at reading poetry, something I've never really had an interest in and that I've also been intimidated by. As I'm still getting a feel for the genre, I won't be rating the poetry collections I read, at least not for a while. Unless, of course, I really love or hate something. This was pretty fantastic though, as far as I'm concerned, with s Update as of 11/24/18 Three months later. Reads two poetry collections and completely changes personal rules. 4/5 stars. 8/25/18 I've decided to make some attempts at reading poetry, something I've never really had an interest in and that I've also been intimidated by. As I'm still getting a feel for the genre, I won't be rating the poetry collections I read, at least not for a while. Unless, of course, I really love or hate something. This was pretty fantastic though, as far as I'm concerned, with standouts being "Ode to My Bitch Face," "Ode to the Women on Long Island," "Bubblegum or Bruise," "Manic Pixie Dream Girl Says," and "the anthem i have sung."

  24. 4 out of 5

    Ylena Radford

    I wanted to like this so bad but the lack of structure and purpose in terms of format bothered me to no end. Not to mention I didn't find any of the topics enlightening or new and the imagery was the same old stuff I've read before. I liked maybe 2 poems from the collection. And even then, I didn't like those 2 poems enough to bookmark them or write down pieces to remember later. Overall, found this book forgettable. I wanted to like this so bad but the lack of structure and purpose in terms of format bothered me to no end. Not to mention I didn't find any of the topics enlightening or new and the imagery was the same old stuff I've read before. I liked maybe 2 poems from the collection. And even then, I didn't like those 2 poems enough to bookmark them or write down pieces to remember later. Overall, found this book forgettable.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Elena ( The Queen Reads )

    curly-sue, nail polish, pastel coiled phone cord, strawberry milk shake designed by her mother to ensure she would grow up the kind of girl who cries when the boy does not love her- in an instant

  26. 4 out of 5

    Amanda

    “Alternate Universe in Which I Am Unfazed by the Men Who Do Not Love Me” is perfection. “Ode to My Bitch Face” is a close second. Overall, quick and definitely worthwhile read.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Monica Robinson

    "like maybe the whole town knew what happened there. like maybe no one could get rid of the blood." New American Best Friend is a devotion to "getting rid of the blood", an unflinching progression from adolescence to adulthood that holds all of the rage and helplessness of such a modern journey. Gatwood's narration has a truthful quality to it that even many of the mainstream progressive feminist poets have failed to possess; she is not striving to make these hurts beautiful or relatable, and as "like maybe the whole town knew what happened there. like maybe no one could get rid of the blood." New American Best Friend is a devotion to "getting rid of the blood", an unflinching progression from adolescence to adulthood that holds all of the rage and helplessness of such a modern journey. Gatwood's narration has a truthful quality to it that even many of the mainstream progressive feminist poets have failed to possess; she is not striving to make these hurts beautiful or relatable, and as such, does both. There is a power in her poetry that expresses no desire to impress anyone, but rather, to relieve oneself of the burden of a lifetime of stories, trauma or otherwise. Gatwood's writing is not altogether universal, a quality that many readers found failing. Though much of her poetry expresses hardships which are understood by a vast group of her readers, there is more to this composition that gives it the candid quality which I, and so many others, have admired. Gatwood's experience is uniquely her own, from her familiarity with The Long Island Women, the "American Best Friend" theme throughout that distinguishes her family's place in the vastness of a world that is often American-centered and should not be, to her experiences with trauma. There is the sense that she is writing as much for herself as for anyone else, which has long been praised in classic poets long before the world arrived to relate to them in stolen phrases such as the undying "I too am not a bit tamed, I too am untranslatable," from Song of Myself or "Someone I loved once gave me a box full of darkness. It took me years to understand that this too, was a gift," by Mary Oliver. Reading this was a combination of realizing that it was not wholly mine to relate to, and recognizing Gatwood's talent with visual, immersive, modern language. If you listen closely enough, I would swear that you can hear the author's voice reading the book to you. Her tone is both intimate and brassy, easily distinguishable from a crowd, demanding your attention both to the page, and to the world around you. Despite the above quote, Gatwood is not Mary Oliver, Sylvia Plath, or Elizabeth Bishop, and she is not trying to be. The individualistic command of modern poetry and clear understanding of accessible language and a modern lexicon as it evolves, put to use to convey a specific atmosphere, demonstrates a sharp mind and strong sense of self; all a reader can truly ask for when allowed a glimpse into a piece of literature so deeply personal. ----- If you like the content I produce, consider checking out my [website](https://www.mrobinsonwrites.com) or supporting me on [Ko-Fi](https://ko-fi.com/A1821FZY). Thanks for reading!

  28. 5 out of 5

    Abriana

    "maybe he is the kind of man who only screams when he is underwater or lets me feel how strong his fingers are without actually touching me" For some reason I thought this was a memoir, and then I got it from the library and was like lol. It's poetry, which I guess is a kind of memoir. I got off to a slow start with this. I was getting these very Milk & Honey vibes where it just felt like a lot nonsensical structural choices for announcing cliches about girlhood and body hair and the lipstick. An "maybe he is the kind of man who only screams when he is underwater or lets me feel how strong his fingers are without actually touching me" For some reason I thought this was a memoir, and then I got it from the library and was like lol. It's poetry, which I guess is a kind of memoir. I got off to a slow start with this. I was getting these very Milk & Honey vibes where it just felt like a lot nonsensical structural choices for announcing cliches about girlhood and body hair and the lipstick. And so, I was like where did I find this book and why did I want to read it so badly? AND THEN, I realized I know Olivia Gatwood from her slam poetry with Button Poetry - and, it turns out she reads a lot from this book on their channel too. Once I began listening to her readings I started looking at these poems with a different voice and gained appreciation for them as the book went on. Backpedal and Ode to the Women on Long Island were real gems. This wasn't amazing and it didn't wow me, but it did push me to read something in a way that was different from how I was naturally approaching it and I appreciated the challenge.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Josh

    3.5-3.75 stars! i love olivia gatwood and her videos on button poetry and i'm really glad i picked this up! she has such a distinct voice and i liked this a lot although there were a fair few poems that just went by me without an emotional response or connection but that's just a me thing. the topics and themes were so important and i loved how she discussed them!! poetry is hard for me to rate but i will say that the poems that stuck out to me on the read-through were almost all ones that i had 3.5-3.75 stars! i love olivia gatwood and her videos on button poetry and i'm really glad i picked this up! she has such a distinct voice and i liked this a lot although there were a fair few poems that just went by me without an emotional response or connection but that's just a me thing. the topics and themes were so important and i loved how she discussed them!! poetry is hard for me to rate but i will say that the poems that stuck out to me on the read-through were almost all ones that i had heard before and were what made me pick up the collection. shoutout to these poems for being So Good: Backpedal Manic Pixie Dream Girl Says Ode to the Wedding Dresses in Goodwill The Ritual The Scholar Ode to My Period Underwear Alternate Universe in Which I Am Unfazed By the Men Who Do Not Love Me Ode to My Bitch Face Ode to the Women on Long Island

  30. 4 out of 5

    Gervanna Stephens

    Gatwood has you reeling from the start. She shocks and taunts and makes you laugh from her tales of childhood and being a teenage girl. Being from the Caribbean, Jamaica precisely, I can relate to the heat of the region in Port of Spain, and the fact that yes, Americans don’t really play Cricket, and people and their misguided perceptions can be demanding. She speaks to the teenage girl and makes the adult female reminisce on things we were not allowed to question as a child. Gatwood writes abou Gatwood has you reeling from the start. She shocks and taunts and makes you laugh from her tales of childhood and being a teenage girl. Being from the Caribbean, Jamaica precisely, I can relate to the heat of the region in Port of Spain, and the fact that yes, Americans don’t really play Cricket, and people and their misguided perceptions can be demanding. She speaks to the teenage girl and makes the adult female reminisce on things we were not allowed to question as a child. Gatwood writes about themes that the average potato wouldn’t think of as poem-worthy and that is just one of the many reasons her words affect the reader so deeply. From her words you realize she has experienced much of your life, fears and desires. She makes the reader proud of a body they may still be trying to navigate and trust if she doesn’t make you view the concept of unfazed in a completely different way. Her voice is loud and she compels the loudness from our throats as well.

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