I received a galley of this collection of poems from PENGUIN GROUP Blue Rider Press & Plume through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This collection is set for publication on January 23, 2018.
I will start by saying that if you are even a casual “I saw this piece in a Button Poetry youtube video” fan of Andrea Gibson and their work. You should get your hands on this collection ASAP. Andrea Gibson is an award-winning poet and activist from Calais, Maine. Their poetry focuses on gender norms, politics, social reform, and LGBTQ issues. The galley description states: “For readers of Rupi Kaur (Milk and Honey) and Atticus (Love Her Wild), a book small enough to carry with you, with messages big enough to stay with you from one of the most quotable and influential poets of our time.” And that feels like an apt description. This collection is divided into three sections and is full of one-liners, couplets, and long-form poems and each of them what made me fall in love all over again with Gibson’s work.
This review might be overshadowed by the fact that while reading this galley in the breakroom at work, I almost started crying because Gibson’s poetry knows how to cut at my baby-queer heart.
My favorite thing about any of the collections of their poetry that I have read is that you can hear them read these poems in your head while reading. The inflections that their voice would take during a reading are all there in the text, but even if I didn’t have Andrea’s voice there to guide me through their work I think these words—no, I know that these words would have had a similar effect on my tear ducts. This collection is part love letter, part call to action, part reminder that there are still reasons to live even when everything feels like a screaming cyclone of terribleness. I’m certain that Gibson’s words have saved lives. They remind us that there are reasons to keep moving forward.
I know Gibson’s work is quoted all over the place, I’m certain that I’ve seen their lines, unattributed of course, on mid-to-early-teens internet artwork somewhere in the vast reaches of Tumblr. I don’t want to distill these poems or the power that Gibson has in their language down to a few lines, but if I quoted everything that I wanted to quote I would end up typing out the whole collection. So following are a few teasers that I hope will encourage you to go get this book, read this book, love this book.
“I find great comfort in believing anyone who has ever broken up with me has probably never gotten over my dog.”
I found a butterFLy’s wing on the sidewalk.
I wanted to keep it but I didn’t. I knew there
were things I should never Find beautiful.
Recommendation: As much as I loved this collection, and felt like it’s words hit the core of my heart, I would not use this as an introduction to Andrea and their work. I think that their words have the most power through spoken word performances, and I loved the collection, Pansy. That being said, if you’re already a fan of Gibson’s work, or feel like carrying their words around with you would be helpful for maintaining a level of even-headedness while the world is decidedly collapsing around us.