Tag Archives: Write Bloody

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.

Sway This Way | Said The Manic to The Muse
 by Jeanann Verlee | Review

120 pgs, $15 | Order on Amazon. | Review by SaraEve Fermin

Said The Manic to The Muse
 by Jeanann Verlee

I was born of the fist. The hot irish temper.
Trailer parks. Pabst Blue Ribbon. Men in work boots,
crusted wife beaters. Fire ants. Weevils. Moth wings on window sills.

—from “Brawler”

This is the Jeanann Verlee that many people are familiar with. A poem that can be found on many Tumblr™ accounts, it is one of the most honest and vivid poems in Verlee’s second book, one that catalogues the life of a woman, an artist, a survivor, a lover, a fighter, a manic, a dog lover—with the turn of each page, she lays out patchwork of poems that can be both breathtaking and gut-punching.

You hate me. You are too kind to say so.
I’m sorry I told our stories. I am low. I never thanked you
for sacrifice.

—from “Genetics of Regret”

A loose litany, this poem is a reminder that there are skeletons in every pen, between the pages of every book. Verlee rattles off a succinct list of apologies to her mother for regrets never uttered, for truths revealed and for coming into her own. It is a gripping piece, one that had me grasping my own pen and paper by the end.

I gifted you the will of gunpowder, a matchstick tongue
& all you managed was a shredded sweater & a police warning?
You should be legend by now.
Girl in an orange jumpsuit, a headline.

—from “The Mania Speaks”

In the last third of her book, Verlee directly faces some serious demons, one of them being Manic Depression. “The Mania Speaks” is a persona piece dressed in red at a funeral—it demands your attention. It is the siren call of the bad blood dancing in the brain, lit up for everyone to see. Beautiful and twisted, it is one of the darker yet playful poems in the book.

Still, nothing prepared my heart for this:

…Life is a dog.
And it doesn’t even matter if she is a good dog

(she is) or a kind dog (she is) or pretty dog (she is)
or an expensive dog (she isn’t)…

—what matters here
is the night she fought those men.

—from “Why You Cry At the End Of Her Life”

I am a dog mother. I believe in the magic of animals—my dog is intuitive, he knows when I am going to have a seizure. The poem spoke to me on multiple levels. Verlee confronts her own demons regarding motherhood in several poems in this collection of poetry, such as “The Session” and “Mathematician”.

Jeanann Verlee’s Said The Manic to the Muse is a powerful second collection from this Write Bloody author. Filled with truth wrapped in glitter, guilt, guts and glory, it is a read worth the time and the processing that will ensure.

Jeanann Verlee is author of Racing Hummingbirds, recipient of the Independent Publisher Book Award Silver Medal in poetry, and Said the Manic to the Muse. She has been awarded the Third Coast Poetry Prize and the Sandy Crimmins National Prize for Poetry and her work has appeared in The New York Quarterly, Rattle, and failbetter, among others. Verlee wears polka dots and kisses Rottweilers. She believes in you. Learn more at jeanannverlee.com.

Connect with her: Tumblr + Facebook.

Contributing Editor

SaraEve Fermin is a performance poet and epilepsy advocate from New Jersey. An East Coast heart jumping circus trains, she is the editor-in-chief of Wicked Banshee Press. Nowadays can be found volunteering at National Poetry Slam Events. She is a Women of the World Poetry Slam Competitor and her work can be found in GERM Magazine, Drunk In A Midnight Choir, Free Verse Magazine and Transcendence among others. Her second book of poetry, The View From The Top of the Ferris Wheel, will be published by Emphat!c Press in 2015. She believes in the power of foxes and self publishing.