Sway This Way | Pansy by Andrea Gibson | Review

120 pages, $15, Write Bloody Publishing | purchase here or here | review by Trista Mateer.

The first time I read something by Andrea Gibson, I wasn’t sure how to wrap my teeth around it. I wanted to keep taking bites but the taste was something else altogether. What I mean to say is that when you find yourself knee deep in Andrea’s work, the way they express vulnerability with such immense strength is going to make you lose your footing a little bit. What I mean to say is that Pansy is such a soft name for such a heavy book.

With something like this, the only way you’re going to understand what I’m talking about is to just chew on it yourself for a while, so here are a few of the lines from Pansy that messed me up. And I mean this in the kindest way: I hope they mess you up too.

“All the wars we’ve fought
have turned our shine into rust;
now we can’t touch each other’s trust
without a tetanus shot.”

—from “Prism”

“I am already building a museum
for every treasure you unearth in the rock
bottom. Holy vulnerable cliff.
God mason, heart heavier
than all the bricks.
Say this is what the pain made of you:
and open open open road.
An avalanche of feel it all.

Don’t let anyone ever tell you
you are too much.”

—from “Angels Of The Get-Through”

“My want pounds so loud
the neighbors think we’re fucking
when I’m just trying to find the nerve
to touch your face.”

—from “Pansies”

Known for their poignant performances, Andrea Gibson’s third book is a testament to the fact that their words are just as capable of finding power on paper. However, to ease us out of Mental Health Awareness Month, I thought I’d include two of Andrea’s spoken word videos dealing with issues of depression and anxiety: “The Madness Vase, AKA The Nutritionist” and “Panic Button Collector” (both featured in this book).

Andrea Gibson is a queer/genderqueer poet and activist whose work deconstructs the current political machine, highlighting issues such as gender, sexuality, patriarchy, white supremacy, capitalism, classism, illness, love, and spirituality. Gibson is a cofounder of Stay Here With Me, an online website and community focused on suicide prevention. Gibson has published three books of poetry, released six full-length spoken-word albums, and is the editor of We Will Be Shelter, an anthology of social justice poetry published by Write Bloody Publishing.

Find out more at andreagibson.org.
Connect with Andrea on Tumblr and Twitter @andreagibson.

Contributing Editor

Trista Mateer is a writer and poet living outside of Baltimore, Maryland. She believes in lipstick, black tea, and owning more books than she can ever possibly read. Known for her eponymous blog, she is also the author of two collections of poetry.