Poetry Talk: New American Best Friend by Olivia Gatwood \ We Slept Here by Sierra DeMulder

new american best friend olivia gatwood cover

Title: New American Best Friend
Author: Olivia Gatwood
Genre: Poetry, Feminism
Published On: March 28th 2017
Publisher: Button Poetry
Pages: 51
Format: Paperback
Source: Purchased
My Rating: 4 Stars!

Amazon | Goodreads | Website

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.

 

You’ve probably already heard of Olivia Gatwood’s poetry on Twitter or Youtube, maybe even Facebook. Her spoken poetry videos are all over the internet, and for good reason. She was also nominated for the Goodreads’ award for Best Poetry of 2017. The first time I heard of her, she was on a spoken word poetry tour, Speak Like a Girl, with Megan Falley which had a stop at my university—the show was incredible, so when Olivia’s new collection came out, I had to buy it.

Olivia Gatwood is unflinchingly honest in New American Best Friend. She delivers a messy, but beautiful image of adolescence. With seeming ease, she delves into every gory, difficult detail of being a girl: periods, sexuality, stereotypes, violence, friendship, etc. and handles the topics with wit and humor.

Many books are described as “hard-hitting,” but with this one, the blows just keep coming, leaving the reader in awe of Olivia’s talent and strength. Some of her poems are hilarious, some are sad, and almost all of them resonated with me in a way I couldn’t quite place. This is definitely a collection you don’t want to miss, especially if you’re a young girl or woman.

Some of my favorite poems include: Like Us, Lessons on Reaping What You Sew, Backpedal, The Anthem I Have Sung, Ode to the Word Pussy, Ode to My Bitch Face, and Ode to the Women on Long Island.


we slept here sierra demulder cover

Title: We Slept Here
Author: Sierra DeMulder
Genre: Poetry
Published On: 2015
Publisher: Button Poetry
Pages: 44
Format: Paperback
Source: Purchased
My Rating: 4 Stars!

Amazon | Goodreads

We Slept Here is a case study in vulnerability and honesty. In this sequence of memoir-esque poems, Sierra DeMulder pulls at the threads of a past abusive relationship and the long road to forgiveness. The poems themselves become an act of recovery and reclamation, wherein the poet finds again the voice which was taken from her. These are hard poems, made up of clarity and healing, which attempt to share some of their peace with the world.

 

Trigger warning: abuse. This poetry collection is about abusive relationships, but highlights recovery.

Sierra DeMulder is also all over the internet as a spoken-word poet, especially YouTube. That’s where I first saw her performing one of her poems, and it inspired me to read her collection.

We Slept Here is much darker than the Gatwood’s collection, but it’s just as gritty and honest. DeMulder knows how to churn your stomach with her twisted metaphors and imagery.

Despite the dark and twisty nature of many of the poems in this collection, the book ends on a hopeful note of being able to come back and heal from the trauma the author experienced. This collection really speaks for itself, and I find myself lost for words to accurately and fairly describe it.

If you’ve dealt with abuse or know someone who has, this poetry collection might be a place to turn to for comfort and confirmation that you’re not alone and that you can recover. DeMulder is a talented poet, and it shines in this collection.

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