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You Better Be Lightning

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You Better Be Lightning by Andrea Gibson is a queer, political, and feminist collection guided by self-reflection. The poems range from close examination of the deeply personal to the vastness of the world, exploring the expansiveness of the human experience from love to illness, from space to climate change, and so much more in between. One of the most celebrated poets an You Better Be Lightning by Andrea Gibson is a queer, political, and feminist collection guided by self-reflection. The poems range from close examination of the deeply personal to the vastness of the world, exploring the expansiveness of the human experience from love to illness, from space to climate change, and so much more in between. One of the most celebrated poets and performers of the last two decades, Andrea Gibson's trademark honesty and vulnerability are on full display in You Better Be Lightning, welcoming and inviting readers to be just as they are.


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You Better Be Lightning by Andrea Gibson is a queer, political, and feminist collection guided by self-reflection. The poems range from close examination of the deeply personal to the vastness of the world, exploring the expansiveness of the human experience from love to illness, from space to climate change, and so much more in between. One of the most celebrated poets an You Better Be Lightning by Andrea Gibson is a queer, political, and feminist collection guided by self-reflection. The poems range from close examination of the deeply personal to the vastness of the world, exploring the expansiveness of the human experience from love to illness, from space to climate change, and so much more in between. One of the most celebrated poets and performers of the last two decades, Andrea Gibson's trademark honesty and vulnerability are on full display in You Better Be Lightning, welcoming and inviting readers to be just as they are.

30 review for You Better Be Lightning

  1. 4 out of 5

    Gabby

    Really gorgeous poetry collection! One of my favorites included this line that I can’t stop thinking about: ”No matter how it looks, you and everyone you know have hourglass figures. Each breath, a falling grain of sand. To truly live is to see right through the skin to the avalanche. If we never deny the inevitable end of the story, we will write it more beautiful while we’re alive.” A few poems brought tears to my eyes, like Instead of Depression, Time Piece, Queer Youth are five times more likely to die b Really gorgeous poetry collection! One of my favorites included this line that I can’t stop thinking about: ”No matter how it looks, you and everyone you know have hourglass figures. Each breath, a falling grain of sand. To truly live is to see right through the skin to the avalanche. If we never deny the inevitable end of the story, we will write it more beautiful while we’re alive.” A few poems brought tears to my eyes, like Instead of Depression, Time Piece, Queer Youth are five times more likely to die by suicide, and Homesick: a Plea for our Planet. 😭🙌

  2. 4 out of 5

    Steph

    What if we don't have to be healed to be whole? There are holes in every inch of the fabric that makes me who I am, but pull the string on my back and I'll say I LOVE YOU and mean it whenever you want. (from "every time i ever said i want to die") ▴▴▴ my reviews of poetry collections often harp on the fact that i struggle to find poetry that i fully get. and now i'm so happy to be able to say that i've found a poet whose work hits me just right and resonates fully. i guess i just needed a quirky queer p What if we don't have to be healed to be whole? There are holes in every inch of the fabric that makes me who I am, but pull the string on my back and I'll say I LOVE YOU and mean it whenever you want. (from "every time i ever said i want to die") ▴▴▴ my reviews of poetry collections often harp on the fact that i struggle to find poetry that i fully get. and now i'm so happy to be able to say that i've found a poet whose work hits me just right and resonates fully. i guess i just needed a quirky queer poet with a huge heart 🖤 gibson writes about trauma, identity, vulnerability, environmental destruction, heartbreak, and above all else, love. so much love. "queer youth are five times more likely to die by suicide" is a painful and hopeful standout poem. gibson is a vitally important lgbt+ voice. "the museum of broken relationships" made me fucking cry. and "note to the stranger six feet away" is an achingly cathartic pandemic poem. and "homesick: a plea for our planet" is something that i wish everyone would read and take to heart. "wellness check" is such a good reminder that it actually resulted in me going no contact with someone who had been taking too much of my energy: In any moment, on any given day, I can measure my wellness by this question: Is my attention on loving, or is my attention on who isn't loving me? 🖤🖤🖤 it's hard to even talk about my favorite poems of gibson's, since the majority of them make me feel something deep in my heart. for now i'll just say that this book is wholeheartedly recommended, in all its beautiful raw tenderness. because where I come from beauty is in the eye of anyone who sees what's missing but can't stop pointing to what's still there. If there's no definition for love yet - I think that's a good one. (from "the year of no grudges, or instead of writing a furious text, i try a poem") Thank you to NetGalley and Button Poetry for providing me with a copy of this book in return for an honest review. All quotes are from the ARC and are subject to change upon publication.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Henk

    Full of engagement, but sometimes veering a bit too close to prose for my personal taste. The reflections on queer life, chronic illness and above all love are well executed, but in a sense made me also feel a bit claustrophobic while reading the bundle Silence rides shotgun wherever hate goes - No such thing as the innocent bystander In You Better Be Lightning Andrea Gibson draws deeply from personal experiences, ranging from dealing with dialysis and lyme to working in crisis wards for evicted que Full of engagement, but sometimes veering a bit too close to prose for my personal taste. The reflections on queer life, chronic illness and above all love are well executed, but in a sense made me also feel a bit claustrophobic while reading the bundle Silence rides shotgun wherever hate goes - No such thing as the innocent bystander In You Better Be Lightning Andrea Gibson draws deeply from personal experiences, ranging from dealing with dialysis and lyme to working in crisis wards for evicted queer youth to discrimination and love not turning out as one would hope. Queer youth are five times more likely to die by suicide is a breathtakingly sad poem that shows the societal engagement of the poet. The bundle is definitely powerful in what it tries to convey and sometimes poems are 4 to 5 pages which essentially tell a story of the history of the author. This feels very candid and raw, and at times the themes felt almost oppressive to me, since not much seems to be going well at all. Still an old saying is that there is no shine with out friction, and this book manages to communicate just that with some very well found similes, excelling more in short length at times than in longer narrative stretches. 3.5 stars rounded up. Quotes: My grandfather was a clock who stopped before I met him. - Time piece Sometimes grief is the fastest route to truth. … What if we don’t have to be healed to be whole? - Every time I ever said I want to die But you’re done making vacations of people. - Climate change

  4. 5 out of 5

    Reading_ Tamishly

    This is not just a poetry collection. It's a form of personal reflection and rediscovering our self. The collection touches a variety of topics and themes. The writing is wholesome. It's calming as well as poignant. Do not read this collection at a go. Take your time. Choose a page and read it. It will make you feel like you are looking at your own reflection. Thank you, publisher and the author, for the advance reader copy. This is not just a poetry collection. It's a form of personal reflection and rediscovering our self. The collection touches a variety of topics and themes. The writing is wholesome. It's calming as well as poignant. Do not read this collection at a go. Take your time. Choose a page and read it. It will make you feel like you are looking at your own reflection. Thank you, publisher and the author, for the advance reader copy.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Pia

    It wasn't until I read 'Queer Youth are Five Times More Likely to Die By Suicide' with tears in my eyes (I was a queer youth, after all) followed by 'No Such Thing as the Innocent Bystander' that I realised this poetry wasn't just magical, it was also extremely powerful. Before I hit these poems in particular, I wondered if Gibson was prone to letting their poems sometimes disintegrate towards the end in a way that made me wish they were tightened up a little more, and it took me a few poems to It wasn't until I read 'Queer Youth are Five Times More Likely to Die By Suicide' with tears in my eyes (I was a queer youth, after all) followed by 'No Such Thing as the Innocent Bystander' that I realised this poetry wasn't just magical, it was also extremely powerful. Before I hit these poems in particular, I wondered if Gibson was prone to letting their poems sometimes disintegrate towards the end in a way that made me wish they were tightened up a little more, and it took me a few poems to realise this is intentional, and they start off coherent and then spill into raw emotion in a way that's like a gift. (Some are extremely tight as well, don't get me wrong, this isn't an 'every poem' thing, just a 'some of them' thing). So grateful to Button Books for the review copy, because this is a new author to me, in Western Australia, and I've needed poetry like this. I think any queer person, any nonbinary person, any gender-diverse person would, but so would any person who cares about justice, and time, and love, and heartbreak, and chronic illness. There's a lot of stand out moments here, a lot of them, from the declaration in that intent title, to the dreamlike cover, to the poems which start out as a story and end up bleeding the truth in sentence fragments and emotional raw wounds laced with so much hope. I'm the kind of reader that automatically starts unconsciously assigning stars when I first start reading. I hovered on four stars, and then shot right past five and am now annoyed I can't actually force Goodreads to assign more, lol. Love this treasure trove, and will be rereading it going into the future.

  6. 4 out of 5

    destiny ♡⚔♡ [howling libraries]

    We need so much less than we take. We owe so much more than we give. 4 stars because 50% of this collection was a 3-star read for me (a bit boring and meandering, truthfully), but the other 50% was brilliant and absolutely worthy of 5 stars. You Better Be Lightning is the first collection I've actually sat down and read of Gibson's, despite being a fan of videos of their poetry readings for many, many years. I love how queer this collection is (especially an entire poem dedicated to queer youth We need so much less than we take. We owe so much more than we give. 4 stars because 50% of this collection was a 3-star read for me (a bit boring and meandering, truthfully), but the other 50% was brilliant and absolutely worthy of 5 stars. You Better Be Lightning is the first collection I've actually sat down and read of Gibson's, despite being a fan of videos of their poetry readings for many, many years. I love how queer this collection is (especially an entire poem dedicated to queer youths and how downright magical they are), and I love how brave it is. This isn't always an easy collection to read, and if you're someone who has any need whatsoever for content warnings, I strongly suggest giving them a glance ahead of time (I'll put them below in spoiler tags). While half of these poems didn't work well for me, like I said, the other half hit me as hard as they could and I'm still reeling from how raw some of them were. ✨ Content warnings for: (view spoiler)[self-harm, suicidal ideation, homophobia, grief, sexual assault, pedophilia, mental illness, COVID pandemic mentions, climate change, religious trauma (hide spoiler)] ——— twitter | booktok | bookstagram | blog

  7. 4 out of 5

    Marne - Reader By the Water

    I don't care for poetry. But the cover caught my eye, and I've been looking for more trans/non-binary authors, so I read their bio. They grew up in my tiny home state and we share a birthday. Goosebumps. Turns out, I love poetry if it's this. This was heartfelt, raw, and lyrically beautiful Poignant and unique, yet so identifiable. I want to buy the book and give it to friends. Absolutely lovely. "We both showed up to kindness tryouts with notes from the school nurse that said we were too hurt to I don't care for poetry. But the cover caught my eye, and I've been looking for more trans/non-binary authors, so I read their bio. They grew up in my tiny home state and we share a birthday. Goosebumps. Turns out, I love poetry if it's this. This was heartfelt, raw, and lyrically beautiful Poignant and unique, yet so identifiable. I want to buy the book and give it to friends. Absolutely lovely. "We both showed up to kindness tryouts with notes from the school nurse that said we were too hurt to participate." Thanks, Netgalley and Button Poetry for the advance copy for an honest review. Pub Date: 9 Nov 2021

  8. 4 out of 5

    Ocean

    Another incredible collection of poems from the incomparable Andrea Gibson. I have been looking forward to this book for a while and it did not disappoint. Gibson has such a way with words and there is so much power in this poetry. Some of the poems meant more to me than others, but they all had their place in this book, and I appreciate Gibson's writing more than I can explain. Another incredible collection of poems from the incomparable Andrea Gibson. I have been looking forward to this book for a while and it did not disappoint. Gibson has such a way with words and there is so much power in this poetry. Some of the poems meant more to me than others, but they all had their place in this book, and I appreciate Gibson's writing more than I can explain.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Megan

    There is so much heart in this book that I swear I could feel it pulse in my hands. This is Andrea's best work yet. There is so much heart in this book that I swear I could feel it pulse in my hands. This is Andrea's best work yet.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Bek MoonyReadsByStarlight

    Andrea Gibson has put out another heartbreaking, heartmending collection. While this collection hits on many topics, with each peice, this digs deep into love -- not just romance, but the love you put out to the world, love of people, family, friends, learning to love yourself, love in the face of some of the hardest things. This is another brilliant poetry collection that I know I will continue to revisit. CW mentions of: suicide, sexual assault, self-harm

  11. 4 out of 5

    Anniek

    What I know: this is exactly the kind of poetry I love, and I should read more of it. What I don't know: how to accurately review poetry collections. All I can really say about this is: this collection really spoke to me, made me pause, made me cry, made me reflect, taught me things. What I know: this is exactly the kind of poetry I love, and I should read more of it. What I don't know: how to accurately review poetry collections. All I can really say about this is: this collection really spoke to me, made me pause, made me cry, made me reflect, taught me things.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Jayden

    *Thank you to NetGalley and Button Poetry for the e-ARC in exchange for an honest review* I have been reading Andrea Gibson's poetry for almost ten years, and I know that because when I was a newly out transgender teen in high school, Gibson's collections were the only books on my shelves by a trans/gnc author at the time. I found comfort and belonging in their words both on the page and in their spoken words in their slam poetry on YouTube, and continue to follow their work to this day. I say al *Thank you to NetGalley and Button Poetry for the e-ARC in exchange for an honest review* I have been reading Andrea Gibson's poetry for almost ten years, and I know that because when I was a newly out transgender teen in high school, Gibson's collections were the only books on my shelves by a trans/gnc author at the time. I found comfort and belonging in their words both on the page and in their spoken words in their slam poetry on YouTube, and continue to follow their work to this day. I say all of this mainly to preface that I do not say it lightly when I say that I believe that this may be Gibson's best poetry collection yet. The poems in this collection span multiple topics, from Gibson's experience with both chronic and mental illness, suicide rates in queer youth, explorations/discussion of gender identity, queerness, break-ups, suicidality, grief in the time of coronavirus, and more. Gibson discusses these topics with their usual attention to detail, with some pages-long poems flowing effortlessly, easily devoured, as well as short, gut wrenching poems with words that will stay with you long after they're read. This book was like a warm hug & a therapy session after this long year and a half. Gibson's trademark optimism mixed with their deadpan humor and unflinching honesty makes for a memorable collection that I will highlight, annotate, and return to over and over.

  13. 4 out of 5

    tee

    magical?! blindingly profound “queer, political, and feminist” poetry i am so happy i decided to read even though the cover put me off because i loved loved this! i am certain that this could even be life-saving for someone out there and i hope so much that they come across this. almost feel bad for rating this (but i will for my personal record) because of just how sincere this book is, and how wonderful that i want to re-read this already. even if it got too cheesy (eeeek) for me sometimes, it magical?! blindingly profound “queer, political, and feminist” poetry i am so happy i decided to read even though the cover put me off because i loved loved this! i am certain that this could even be life-saving for someone out there and i hope so much that they come across this. almost feel bad for rating this (but i will for my personal record) because of just how sincere this book is, and how wonderful that i want to re-read this already. even if it got too cheesy (eeeek) for me sometimes, it retained its authenticity which is what matters. subscribed to their newsletter, followed them on instagram and cannot wait to read more of their work! i love to love. “i know there is medicine in knowing / how much we don’t know. i know / there are answers in being awestruck.”

  14. 4 out of 5

    Shannon Service

    Andrea Gibson is a fury of fireflies in a jar on the darkest night. Being human is hard and confusing and miraculous. Andrea teaches us how to hold these things with humor, grace and a lot of love. Read. This. Book.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Cassandra

    Just another poetry book to add to my shelf! And what a wonderful one to add. I enjoyed this a lot. Andrea Gibson gives another honest book to their collection and as much as I could finish a poetry book in one sitting, I'm glad I get to absorb it day by day/whenever I feel I need it most. This cover was stunning alone but I'm glad the poetry matched the cover too. Just another poetry book to add to my shelf! And what a wonderful one to add. I enjoyed this a lot. Andrea Gibson gives another honest book to their collection and as much as I could finish a poetry book in one sitting, I'm glad I get to absorb it day by day/whenever I feel I need it most. This cover was stunning alone but I'm glad the poetry matched the cover too.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Sara

    Favorite poems from this collection: Time Piece No Such Thing as an Innocent Bystander Every Time I Ever Said I Want to Die Instead of Depression What Love Is Night Shift Good Grief Wellness Check The Last Hours This was my first time reading Andrea Gibson and I now already have some of their other books on hold at the library. I can't wait to read more. *I was given a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review Favorite poems from this collection: Time Piece No Such Thing as an Innocent Bystander Every Time I Ever Said I Want to Die Instead of Depression What Love Is Night Shift Good Grief Wellness Check The Last Hours This was my first time reading Andrea Gibson and I now already have some of their other books on hold at the library. I can't wait to read more. *I was given a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review

  17. 4 out of 5

    Astro

    This was probably the best poetry collection I read all year

  18. 4 out of 5

    Callum McLaughlin

    I’ve been meaning to try Gibson’s work for ages. Having been lucky enough to get hold of their newest collection, I am now all the more determined to explore their back catalogue at length. The poems found here are very candid, focussing primarily on the themes of gender identity, queerness, love, loss, and healing. Gibson’s style is heavily narrative driven, informed by their own experiences and often delivering sucker-punch lines that are all the more poignant for the simplicity of their expre I’ve been meaning to try Gibson’s work for ages. Having been lucky enough to get hold of their newest collection, I am now all the more determined to explore their back catalogue at length. The poems found here are very candid, focussing primarily on the themes of gender identity, queerness, love, loss, and healing. Gibson’s style is heavily narrative driven, informed by their own experiences and often delivering sucker-punch lines that are all the more poignant for the simplicity of their expression. Though they never shy away from the pain and sadness life can throw at you (there is also excellent commentary on life with chronic pain, for example), there is such inherent warmth and kindness to Gibson’s voice; the wonderful flow and deceptive accessibility a welcome hand to guide us through the darkness. There were several stand-out pieces (“See This Through”, “The Last Hours”, “Homesick”, and “Queer Youth Are Five Times More Likely to Die by Suicide” will stick with me) but there’s not a single dud throughout the entire collection – generous as it is in length. Sharp, observant, and achingly tender, I am now very much a fan. Thank you to the publisher for a free advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Maddie Miyares

    um i just realized i forgot to actually write a review of this book, and honestly I'll probably read the whole thing another 7 times before I have all my thoughts gathered, but wow this book was.... amazing (as I honestly expected) and I love Andrea Gibson a great deal (if any of yall have me on insta, I am not sorry for how much I repost their work) um i just realized i forgot to actually write a review of this book, and honestly I'll probably read the whole thing another 7 times before I have all my thoughts gathered, but wow this book was.... amazing (as I honestly expected) and I love Andrea Gibson a great deal (if any of yall have me on insta, I am not sorry for how much I repost their work)

  20. 4 out of 5

    Tash Holmes

    Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with an e-arc of this book in exchange for an honest review. I’m really glad that I read this collection because it felt really personal and I always love when I can get a true sense of a person through their poetry. I enjoyed the topics discussed and found each poems flowed really well into the next. I could also really tell that Andrea is a seasoned poet with lots of experience and this collection really stood out to me in a market oversaturated with nov Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with an e-arc of this book in exchange for an honest review. I’m really glad that I read this collection because it felt really personal and I always love when I can get a true sense of a person through their poetry. I enjoyed the topics discussed and found each poems flowed really well into the next. I could also really tell that Andrea is a seasoned poet with lots of experience and this collection really stood out to me in a market oversaturated with novice poets, so in that sense, this was a breath of fresh air. Personally, I am more inclined towards shorter poems but that’s very much a me thing and despite that, I still enjoyed many of the poems in this collection. The use of language felt professional and I could tell a lot of time went into perfecting the flow and feeling of each poem. I suppose my biggest gripe is that I wish I could have listened to these poems rather than read them. Andrea is also well versed (if you’ll pardon the pun) in spoken word and I felt like many of the poems in this collection would have been far more impactful and gripping spoken, and I did find my attention slipping every now and then. While I probably wouldn’t read again mostly due to the length of the poems, I believe this is a beautiful poetry collection with a unique voice behind it that I think everyone could benefit from.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Luz

    I won an ARC on Goodreads. Thanks Button Poetry! I love Andrea’s voice and style. I used to watch their videos on YouTube and read their book Lord of the Butterflies a few months ago. These are beautiful, honest poems. Some of the topics in these poems overlap with poems in Lord of the Butterflies, but bring a different perspective. I won an ARC on Goodreads. Thanks Button Poetry! I love Andrea’s voice and style. I used to watch their videos on YouTube and read their book Lord of the Butterflies a few months ago. These are beautiful, honest poems. Some of the topics in these poems overlap with poems in Lord of the Butterflies, but bring a different perspective.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Poptart19 (the name’s ren)

    3 stars Stories of resilience told in poems that confront the harshness of reality yet still find softness & love. The content is quite good, but my rating isn’t higher because the poems aren’t entirely to my tastes stylistically. [What I liked:] •These poems have something to say, & are personal. They’re not just regurgitated platitudes repackaged in sparkly words. The crystallized moments of meaning sometimes get lost in rambling paragraphs, but I still genuinely appreciate what is there. •Th 3 stars Stories of resilience told in poems that confront the harshness of reality yet still find softness & love. The content is quite good, but my rating isn’t higher because the poems aren’t entirely to my tastes stylistically. [What I liked:] •These poems have something to say, & are personal. They’re not just regurgitated platitudes repackaged in sparkly words. The crystallized moments of meaning sometimes get lost in rambling paragraphs, but I still genuinely appreciate what is there. •The threads of family, love, hope, & resilience run through the sorrow & rage confronted in these poems. There is darkness, but also the light ahead you might not be able to see right now. [What I didn’t like as much:] •I prefer poetry that’s spare, where every word is carefully chosen. (Most of) these poems are stylistically different from that. They go on & on for pages. They ramble & aren’t tightly focused. They use filler words & run on sentences. They’re more like stream of consciousness journal entries. Just not my thing. CW: suicide, mental illness, homophobia, self-harm, sexual assault/CSA, chronic illness, domestic violence [I received an ARC ebook copy from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review. Thank you for the book!]

  23. 4 out of 5

    Kelliane Parker

    I am a huge fan of their books and videos, I believe I have read every book. Every page in each of their books has been an affirmation of a feeling seen and loved. Much of Gibson's work is around healing from trauma, love and the inevitable heartbreak that follows. You Better Be Lightning visits these common themes with the perspective of growth, healing and a gentleness of oneself that arrives just in time. Before the book launch, Gibson begins a battle over cancer with beauty, grace and humilit I am a huge fan of their books and videos, I believe I have read every book. Every page in each of their books has been an affirmation of a feeling seen and loved. Much of Gibson's work is around healing from trauma, love and the inevitable heartbreak that follows. You Better Be Lightning visits these common themes with the perspective of growth, healing and a gentleness of oneself that arrives just in time. Before the book launch, Gibson begins a battle over cancer with beauty, grace and humility. With an optimistic, yet realistic lens, the writer chronicles not only their struggles but the wins as well. No matter how painful the topics are, I am always left inspired and uplifted by the strength that can only come with true vulnerability. I guarantee you'll be moved to a million heartfelt goosebumps times the number of times, "that big moon," has orbited the earth.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Mattie-Bretton

    440 Goosebumps. I was introduced to Andrea's poetry by a therapist. I bought their previous collection 'Lord of the Butterflies' and cried on every page. Andrea's writing style is loaded with such utter truth and raw emotional storytelling, and as a writer and poet myself, they've inspired me to see with much more than my eyes, and to feel with much more than only five senses. Because we are much more than skin and bones. That's how stories are not just told, but absorbed into our souls. That's ho 440 Goosebumps. I was introduced to Andrea's poetry by a therapist. I bought their previous collection 'Lord of the Butterflies' and cried on every page. Andrea's writing style is loaded with such utter truth and raw emotional storytelling, and as a writer and poet myself, they've inspired me to see with much more than my eyes, and to feel with much more than only five senses. Because we are much more than skin and bones. That's how stories are not just told, but absorbed into our souls. That's how we know we are infinite. I've grown with my own writing because of Andrea's, and this collection showed me more courage and truth, flooding with love and forgiveness like I've never seen in human form. Beautiful.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Kelly McGrath

    Absolutely beautiful collection of poetry that flows together with intention and grace.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Diana

    Andrea Gibson has done it again. The line that will stick with me most is in reference to 2020, & it reads: “If every heart-worthy novelist weeps for days before killing off a beloved character, god must have spent centuries sobbing before pressing a pen to the page of this year”.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Amber

    I was excited to read this book because I adore everything Button Poetry puts out. This one didn't start out as strong for me as other poetry books have, and I think a lot of the poems would have been better in a spoken word format where you get more of the author's intention and personality come through. Having said that, this book is still everything I expect of something from Button Poetry and while it started slow for me, that first impression was a fleeting one. This is the first thing I've I was excited to read this book because I adore everything Button Poetry puts out. This one didn't start out as strong for me as other poetry books have, and I think a lot of the poems would have been better in a spoken word format where you get more of the author's intention and personality come through. Having said that, this book is still everything I expect of something from Button Poetry and while it started slow for me, that first impression was a fleeting one. This is the first thing I've read by Andrea Gibson, and while not all of the poems were hits for me, the overall book was very enjoyable. There is a lot in here about growing up queer and dealing with the worldview that our society leaves on our queer youth. They write about growing up and hating yourself, and the poem "To Whom it Definitely Concerns" hit me harder than I anticipated. I tried to find a line from that poem to put here but genuinely can't decide which is my favorite. Anyone who has struggled with self-image, depression, or anxiety needs to read this poem. "What Love Is" explores what we do for others and how sometimes we may need to place people over our values but in the end what are values without love. "Wellness check" was a reality check for me, and something I hope to keep in mind moving forward in life. Ultimately, this book deals with a lot of queer, political, feminist issues but they're all universal regardless of whether you identify with those labels or not. What if we don't have to be healed to be whole? This book is an exploration of learning how to do that, and one I'm glad I read. I received an eARC of this book from NetGalley, and give thanks to them, the publisher, and Andrea Gibson for the opportunity to read this book.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Ari

    5 stars as always.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Amber Nicole

    Beautiful

  30. 4 out of 5

    Tucker

    I don’t think I’ve read poems quite like these before, and it took me a while to settle into the voice. I would love to hear these read aloud. After a while, I began to hear them in my mind read onstage, and then I realized, yes, these are meant to be performed. I could have taken the hint from the opening poem's reference to Maya Angelou. “The Year of No Grudges”, or “Instead of Writing a Furious Text, I Try a Poem” opens with lovely aphorisms (“I think we make gods / who look like us for a reas I don’t think I’ve read poems quite like these before, and it took me a while to settle into the voice. I would love to hear these read aloud. After a while, I began to hear them in my mind read onstage, and then I realized, yes, these are meant to be performed. I could have taken the hint from the opening poem's reference to Maya Angelou. “The Year of No Grudges”, or “Instead of Writing a Furious Text, I Try a Poem” opens with lovely aphorisms (“I think we make gods / who look like us for a reason”), then gets a little weird, nevertheless remaining heartwarming (“you are on fire / like a gay men’s choir / rocking the halftime show / of a football game”) and then goofy (“I pick you to finish / all my half-written poems / even though you suck / at writing poetry”). The ending, though, wraps it up well—the intensity of the interpersonal affection comes through. If you think it will stay the same, it will not. “I mean, my god is gonna change. / My pronouns are gonna change.” (“The Test of Time”) In “The Museum of Broken Relationships,” I have to respect “the carousel of clarity (otherwise known as fifteen years of therapy)”. This poem doesn’t quite wrap up, but that is sort of the point, at least on such a carousel, “if you know what I mean, / and I know you know what I mean”. In “Queer Youth Are Five Times More Likely to Die By Suicide”, I appreciate: “Hate worked five times harder / to make your spirit its wishbone.” And in “The Call, Option 1”: “karma is a hell / of a feminist.” I mean I adore all these line breaks. From “Every Time I Ever Said I Want to Die”, I want more. “The psychology manuals say no one really wants / to die. They want relief.” Yes, but they expect not to find it. “That belief could be right. / Or wrong.” So: “One would have to stay to find out.” Yes. Of death, “Infinity still sends me nudes / every day”, but the poet has promised to live. I still want more here. I want to see the nudes of infinity. More of “the dark years.” Or do I? We have seen so much already. Maybe here, finally, is the light. The conflict in “What Love Is” should, I think, be taught in philosophy courses, including the introductory class where one teenager always denies there is any such thing as an ethical conflict (because they believe there is always A Right Thing to Do, and this poem will relieve them of that notion) and maybe the more advanced classes as well (so we could try to find a resolution to the particular conflict in this poem, because I would sort of like an answer). But also, where the poet says “I did something wrong,” I’m not sure they really believe that. The way they tell the story, it sounds as though they made the right choice. “…I watched Maya Angelou walk on stage. Seventeen slow steps to the mic. She took a breath before speaking, and I could hear god being born in that breath.” (“Acceptance Speech After Setting the World Record in Goosebumps”) I received a free copy from Netgalley.

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