Book Review: Life of the Party: Poems by Olivia Gatwood

life

I’m a good girl, bad girl, dream girl, sad girl

Release Date: August 20, 2019

Order on Amazon

Publisher: Dial Press

Price: $11.90 (paperback)

Plot Summary:

Lauded for the power of her writing and having attracted an online fan base of millions for her extraordinary spoken-word performances, Olivia Gatwood now weaves together her own coming-of-age with an investigation into our culture’s romanticization of violence against women. At times blistering and riotous, at times soulful and exuberant, Life of the Party explores the boundary between what is real and what is imagined in a life saturated with fear. Gatwood asks, How does a girl grow into a woman in a world racked by violence? Where is the line between perpetrator and victim? In precise, searing language, she illustrates how what happens to our bodies can make us who we are.

Grade: A

Review:

Gatewood’s poetry collection is part memoir and partly inspired by True Crime. In each poem, she explores the meaning of becoming a woman and how men react to this sudden change from girlhood to womanhood. She also has an obsession with mistrusting men and believing that a man is going to kill her. Although, to be honest, what woman hasn’t thought about being killed by a man before? With the way True Crime depicts young girls and women always being victims of rape and murder, it’s no wonder that we grow up with this incessant paranoia. Her fear is very relatable if you’re a woman living pretty much anywhere in the world. Men abusing and killing women is a worldwide crisis and one that has only worsened over the years.

“Maybe I am tired
of hearing people talk about the murder
of girls like it is both beautiful
and out of the ordinary.”
-My Grandmother Asks Why I Don’t Trust Men

Gatewood explores the dark realms of her fears and tries to give voice to them through her poignant poetry. These poems are honest, raw, and sometimes quite dark. I recommend this book for all you that prefer your poetry to have a certain edge to is, but if you’re easily triggered then this collection won’t be for you.

*Thank you so much to NetGalley and Dial Press for the digital copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!

olivia

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Poetry: Kissing Asphalt

bloodstain

Photo courtesy of arhiva.dalje.com

The clouds are coming down low.

I don’t know where I’m going to go.

The rock star ran off with my soul.

He wants it because it makes him feel less alone.

I’m kissing asphalt tonight.

But I should be kissing you.

Why do you keep on stalking me?

Writing songs about me?

Phantom lover who adores to creep

And peers from afar when I weep,

Has come prepared to take me out

With only a simple stroke of his mouth.

I’m kissing asphalt tonight.

But I should be kissing you.

My blood’s all over the frigid sheets

Highway 95 has tasted my flesh.

I’m going down on you and I’m not coming (up)

My naked skin timidly peels,

As the wounds turn into scars unhealed.

I’m kissing asphalt tonight.

But I should be kissing you.

He spoke of love, passion, and soulmates.

Of easy girls that never cry.

But he never spoke of Zura,

The girl who almost died.

I’m kissing asphalt tonight.

But I should be kissing you.

I’m kissing asphalt tonight.

And it’s as bittersweet as you.

*

Did you enjoy this poem? You can find this poem and many others in Bleed Like Me: Poems for the Broken

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Throwback Thursday: Andreas Johnson – Glorious

andreas

1998-1999 was a golden age for music. Or at least I thought it was, seeing that many of my favourite bands came out with albums those two years that I not only loved but defined me, such as Marilyn Manson’s Mechanical Animals, Garbage’s 2.0, Hole’s Celebrity Skin, and Red Hot Chili Pepper’s Californication, just to name a few.

During that time I had also become a big fan Swedish singers, and Andreas Johnson came out with a song and music video that was absolutely thrilling, called Glorious.

The song was catchy from the very beginning and like most Swedes, Andreas Johnson was quite the eye candy (especially for all of us teenage girls). Now, the music video wasn’t crazily original (as it just showed him performing the song on some stage upon another stage and then in a bedroom in the company of a model-looking girl). Despite it not being a video that screamed with originality, there was something very sexual and sexy about the beautiful couple making out on a bed at that looked like to be dawn (maybe they had spent the whole night partying or they met at a club?) only to fall upon the bed in a shower of silver glitter. Back then, I was in full mode glam-mania (Manson had ditched his goth guise for feather boas and platforms as Omega in Mechanical Albums and the movie Velvet Goldmine was set in 1970’s London, heyday of glam rock had just been released). This was the time I used to wear glitter liner and star rhinestones at the corner of my right eye. I’m telling you, we were much cooler than the emo crowd.

andreas2

I can’t recall when it was the last time I had listened to this song but surely it was around 1999-2000 timeframe, because if you were living in Italy at the time (as I was), there was no way you didn’t her this song on the radio at least four times a day. The music video was in heavy rotation on MTV Italy too. So, watching the video and listening to the song almost twenty years later I discovered that the song is still hella catchy today, and you can’t help but be intrigued by the opening lyrics when Johnson croons, “Here she comes with a masterplan, and I’m starting to lose control.” Mind you, we never get to know what this masterplan is unless it’s referring to her seducing him (maybe?). And even two decades later, falling upon a bed of silver glitter still seems thrilling (forget rose petals! Rolling around in glitter that evoke stars is my fantasy!).

The song doesn’t sound dated to me (maybe cause it’s a love song), although I suppose the music video could be seen a bit dated. But honestly, it’s still way more exciting than videos most artists are releasing nowadays (the death of MTV as a music channel brought death to the music videos).

Glorious was an all-out fun, sexy song that sticks with you far longer than you think it should. Maybe because we’ve all fantasized about meeting a sexy stranger at a club to end with a dawn filled with passionate glitter sex. No? Just me?

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Poetry: Starry Eyes

lovemusic

Your neglect has managed to

Burst my heart into so many tiny pieces

That I was unable to recover all

The love that I bled out

I listen to your old songs about me

In hopes that I can feel that rush

I felt the first time that our eyes locked

Nothing could give me more joy

Than to feel

Remember when we had starry eyes

Our lips spoke poetry in every kiss

Remember when we had starry eyes

Our limbs resonated with music in every caress

I had a Kate Moss smile

Your nonchalance was so very James Dean

I read all the books you loved

If only to see the world from your perspective

My whole essence breathed you into me

I’ve never been the same again

There’s a hole in my chest

Where all my love for you resided

Remember when we had starry eyes

Our lips spoke poetry in every kiss

Remember when we had starry eyes

Our limbs resonated with music in every caress

What kills me

Is that I remember everything about our days

Together

What kills me

Is that I can’t recreate that feeling of starry eyes

With anyone else.

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Notre Dame: When a Burning Building Brings Back Memories

notre dame

The first time I visited Notre Dame I was eighteen and four days into my relationship with my soulmate. We had gotten together earlier that week in London and when he invited me to a notable party which back then such a gesture would be equivalent to becoming “Instagram official.” Our love was passionate and raced at a speed that would make even Lewis Hamilton a little motion sick. I had been to Paris before because I have relatives that live there but never taken the time to actually visit the city. Besides, isn’t visiting Paris with a romantic partner the epitome of Romance?

So when last Monday I heard the news that Notre Dame was burning I was filled with a sickening sense of dread. I couldn’t bring myself to watch the flames engulfing the building on TV, I didn’t want to think about all the art that was at risk at being lost, at the building itself collapsing. It was simply too much. I couldn’t imagine Paris without Notre Dame. As someone having a degree in Classical Letters, Victor Hugo’s iconic protagonist Quasimodo lived in the cathedral and was tasked with ringing the bell, and it horrified me to think that this literary location would only become a distant memory, conjured when reading the pages of The Hunchback of Notre Dame.

As my phone exploded with Twitter updates, I couldn’t bring myself to read them. I was too afraid of any of them confirming my fears. I was fraught with anxiety, almost feeling like someone who had been informed that a loved one had been critically hurt and you’re miles away and can’t do anything to help. Finally, on the point of despair and tears, I texted my ex, the one whom I had visited the Cathedral and stated, “Have you seen the news about Notre Dame? I’m in tears.”

I didn’t consider at the time that he may be sleeping, seeing the time difference, me being in California and him in London. But despite that, it wasn’t too long before he replied back with, “I did. I’ve been crying all night.”

And suddenly it dawned on me why this building out of any other building meant so much to me. It’s a building that had witnessed the beginning of my love story with my soulmate and seeing it burn only made the fact that our own love had gone up in flames hurt even more. As if reading my mind, my ex sent another text, “Remember when we visited it together?”

How could I ever forget? Pieces of ourselves had somehow fused within that Gothic structure because the pain was so visceral, so raw, so real.

“I remember. We were infinite.” I texted back.

“Don’t be said,” he replied. “It’ll survive. Nothing that beautiful will ever truly die.”

I couldn’t bring myself to ask him if he had meant the building or if he had meant the ghost of our younger selves, huddled against the cold Parisian wind in a long-ago February standing on the Bell Tower and thinking that anything was possible.

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Poetry: Tonight, Tonight

*April is National Poetry Month, and thus I decided to share one of my poems from Bleed Like Me: Poems for the Broken. 99% of the poems collected in the book were written during the ages of 13-22 years old, so if anything reads too tragic or overdramatic, now you know why. And rather to censor or edit my poems with adult hindsight, I left them raw, obsessive, and dark.

*

Tonight, tonight, you’re falling so behind

I see you trembling—

Feeling left on the side.

Tonight, tonight, you’re crying all your tears

I feel your pain—

Drowning in your despair.

Tonight, tonight, you’re growing so distant

I see you shriveling away from me—

Scorning my stoned affection.

Tonight, tonight, you’re scrapping at the floor

I sense your frustration—

Slapping me across the face.

Tonight, tonight, you’re running out of time

I see you walking out—

Letting go of any part that belongs to me.

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My Top 3 Love Movies

Maybe it’s because I spent so many Valentine’s Days alone (even when dating someone, somehow they’d be unavailable/away, or if we celebrated it never felt like a true celebration but more something that they dreaded), so perhaps my choice of love stories probably won’t be your conventional sort. Love for me has always been complicated, more times hurtful and tragic than happy, so maybe I find unconventional love stories a bit more relatable than your run of the mill rom-com. These are my top three movies that feature a love story in them, let me know what you think of my selections and what movies would you choose?

untamed heart

Untamed Heart

This ’90s romantic drama stars Marisa Tomei as Caroline, a waitress in Minneapolis who when walking home one night gets accosted by a few thugs who want to rape her. Her uber shy co-worker Andy (played by a dreamy Christian Slater) saves her, and soon the two become a couple. The love between the two of them help them become better people, but soon their little blissful world is shattered when Caroline learns that Andy has had a defective heart since birth and will die unless he gets a transplant. This was the first movie that made me legit ugly sob, and I’m not one who is easily moved to tears by cinema. It’s a wonderful, unpretentious love story, but get ready to stock up on tissues, you’re going to need it.

shelly

The Crow

I know, I know what you’re all thinking, BUT IT’S NOT A LOVE STORY! WE BARELY GET TO SEE THE COUPLE TOGETHER! Yes, I know, but at the heart of it, The Crow IS a love story. As a deceased rocker, Eric Draven (played by the iconic Brandon Lee aka every goth girl’s wet dream) returns from the dead a year later after a bunch of druggie-thugs rape and kill his fiancee Shelly Webster (Sofia Shinas) to avenge what was done to her and himself (they killed him first). So yes, much of the movie is about revenge, but there are many moments where we get to see Eric’s relationship with Shelly and how the two of them were planning to get married the following night (Halloween) but their plans got tragically nixed the night before (Devil’s Night). I don’t know about you, but I’m a sucker for Gothic love, and with lines like, “Buildings burn, people die, but real love is forever,” ending the movie to Jane Siberry’s It Can’t Rain All The Time, well, it’s just ALL THE FEELS.

romeo

Romeo+Juliet

We all know the tale of Shakespeare’s famed “star-crossed lovers,” but no one had ever told it quite as boldly quite like Baz Luhrmann did in 1996. It was essentially Shakespeare for the MTV Generation, starring teen favorite Claire Danes (at the time from My So-Called Life fame) as Juliet, and budding rising star Leonardo DiCaprio as the brooding Romeo. The movie managed to keep Shakespeare’s language intact but was set in a modern-day Verona Beach (a carbon copy of Venice Beach). The plot is always the same, two teens from two feuding families meet at a party and fall madly in love. Due to their very young age and fearing their parents’ wrath, the two make some very rash decisions that will ultimately lead to their tragic demise. This movie is flashy, theatrical, with a swoon-worthy couple that we want to root for, all encased by the best music the ’90s could offer. I’m pretty sure even the Bard himself would find this movie entertaining.

Happy Valentine’s, peeps!

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Book Review: Lord of the Butterflies by Andrea Gibson

butterflies

That night when you kissed me, I left a poem in your mouth.

Release Date: November 27, 2018

Order On Amazon

Price: $13.01 (paperback)

Publisher: Button Poetry

Plot Summary:

Andrea Gibson’s latest collection is a masterful showcase from the poet whose writing and performances have captured the hearts of millions. With artful and nuanced looks at gender, romance, loss, and family, Lord of the Butterflies is a new peak in Gibson’s career. Each emotion here is deft and delicate, resting inside of imagery heavy enough to sink the heart while giving the body wings to soar.

Grade: A

Review:

Andrea Gibson has been one of the most potent voices in poetry for the LGBTQ community at large. Although since this genre of poetry (spoken poetry) is best consumed if heard live (or watching a video of one of their readings), I suggest that in conjunction to reading this book that you also see them live, because they’re a force to be reckoned with. The poetry comes alive in ways that wouldn’t be able to on print, making you feel just how raw, visceral, and gut-wrenching this experience can truly be.

Many of the topics they explore are things that society is still dealing with such as gender identity, gun control, homophobia, and mental illness. I’m usually not a huge fan of contemporary poets as for someone who majored in Classics, I’ve got a penchant for the likes of Charles Baudelaire, Poe, John Keats, and William Blake. However, much like Sylvia Plath in her days, Andrea Gibson has the courage to shed her skin and allow us to see what’s inside and challenging us to do the same.

I recommend this book if you’re okay with having to nurse a cracked heart afterward because Gibson’s poems cut deep.

*Thank you so much to NetGalley and Button Poetry for the digital copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!

 

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Poetry: Blood Remembers Even When You Don’t

smoke

I left lipstick imprints on your neck

We bathed in rose petals and strawberries

Champagne kisses

You were like a tormented Arthur Rimbaud

All the girls bursting with love for you

But you only had eyes for me

Baby, it wasn’t maybe

And I was living free like Carole Lombard

We didn’t know we were bound for heartbreak

The young are fearless

Baby, we were crazy

Wrapped in our intoxicating dreams of forever

Chasing each other in the night

Our hearts exploding with possibilities

Sometimes we look back and try to grasp

How we fell apart

But baby, it was never maybe

We’re immortal in the blood and memories we left behind.

Bleed - High Resolution

ATTENTION!

For a limited time, you can now request an early ARC of my upcoming poetry collection, “Bleed Like Me: Poems for the Broken” on NetGalley! You’ll find this and other poems in the book! You can pre-order the book on Amazon!

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Coming Soon! Bleed Like Me: Poems for the Broken

This is how you draw a broken heart:
Dip your fingers in blood and don’t
Hesitate to botch the final project.

Synopsis: 

This is a book about love and the wounds that it can bring. It explores the exhilaration of first love, the damage of unrequited love, and the distress of abandonment. The poems are little memories that come alive, a journey between reality and fantasy, often mingling as one. Fragments of life depicted in words. This is a collection of poems both cruel and sweet. The poems depict the difference between how we perceive ourselves and how others perceive us. But most of all, this is a kaleidoscope of emotions that are multiplied and amplified as the reader looks into the window of a young woman’s heart.

Bleed - High Resolution

 

This poetry collection is probably the closest anyone will ever get to reading my diary. Many of the poems were written between the ages of 14-24, although there are about two or three that were written more recently.

Some of these poems have been featured elsewhere. Such as:

The Enchanted Forest (honorable mention from Amherst Society in 1997) & featured in a European anthology in 1998

The Love Song (the Illiad Press 1997)

Betrayed With a Kiss for Wildsound Festival

Paper Monsters for Booksie

The book is up for pre-order on Amazon but will be available on FEBRUARY 12, 2019.

This collection is perfect for those who are fans of dark poetry, gothic lit, and love poems. Some of the topics explored in this book are: relationships, first love, body image, unrequited love, eating disorders, toxic relationships, death, abandonment, addiction, obsessive-compulsive disorder, depression, and suicide.

If any book bloggers are interested in an ARC just hit me up at: azzurranox[@]yahoo.com

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