Poetry has the power to put indescribable feelings into words. At the moment, many of us are uncertain, stressed and lost, but I’ve found it really helpful to retreat to the familiar. In this case, Olivia Gatwood’s 2019 collection, Life of the Party. Life of the Party is an intense, candid reflection on the poet’s relationship with girlhood and womanhood. Many of the pieces started as performance poetry (look up ‘When I Say That We Are All Teen Girls’ on YouTube for a taste), so Gatwood’s voice really breaks through. I’ve picked it up several times since lockdown started and been soothed by the universality of it, as well as the sharp wit Gatwood deploys. While most of the poems are actually fairly bleak, with topics ranging from serial killers to toxic lovers in amongst nostalgic, intimate accounts of past summers and best friends, Gatwood is inviting her reader to relate, to see something of themselves in her lines. In times like this, it’s important to feel seen, and that’s what this collection does for me.
In-text image is the writer’s own.