Publisher and Publication Date: Alan Squire Publishing, an imprint of Santa Fe Writer’s Project, Distributed by IPG. March 1, 2020.
Source: I received a complimentary paperback copy from the publisher, I was not required to write a positive review.
Audience: Readers of poetry, especially female poetry readers.
Girls Like Us is packed with fierce, eloquent, and deeply intelligent poetry focused on female identity and the contradictory personas women are expected to embody. The women in these poems sometimes fear and sometimes knowingly provoke the male gaze. At times, they try to reconcile themselves to the violence that such attentions may bring; at others, they actively defy it. Hazen’s insights into the conflict between desire and wholeness, between self and self-destruction, are harrowing and wise. The predicaments confronted in Girls Like Us are age-old and universal—but in our current era, Hazen’s work has a particular weight, power, and value.
Reading this book of poetry provokes me. It reminds me of my experiences of the themes in this book.
In the first poem, “Devices”. Various names are directed at females. For example: “dumb slut,” “frigid bitch,” “chick,” and “skirts.” The poem ends with this line: “We’ve been called so many things that we are not, we startle at the sound of our own names.”
Most females can tell stories of the horrible names used against us to drag us down, belittle us, dehumanize us, and exert some kind of control. These names are often said in an attitude of, “oh, I was just kidding, you take things too seriously.”
Men, not all men, because I’ve had females cat call me too, they all should be ashamed. It is not a way to makes friends. It is not a turn-on. It is not a solid and healthy way for any type of relationship. And, it’s annoying as heck.
As a young girl I wanted to be liked and noticed, but not called-out. I did not want to be abused. Essentially that is what those words do: abuse.
Several other poems resonated with me—they spoke big to my heart.
“Eve at the Stop ‘n’ Shop”
What are the themes running through the poems?
Not knowing who you really are, but desperately want to know.
Hiding and covering up.
Sexuality and being comfortable with it.
Finding our voice.
Transition and growth.
Understanding and expressing emotions.
Submission to something that is later regretted or questioned if a yes was ever given.
Being told “it” is all in our head. No validation.
I made several marks in my copy of this book. It spoke to me. It reminded me of things way back in my past that hang on like a string from my clothing that can’t be pulled off…and if it is pulled what will pull with it?
About the Author:
Elizabeth Hazen is a poet, essayist, and teacher. A Maryland native, she came of age in a suburb of Washington, D.C. in the pre-internet, grunge-tinted 1990s, when women were riding the third wave of feminism and fighting the accompanying backlash. She began writing poems when she was in middle school, after a kind-hearted librarian handed her Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s A Coney Island of the Mind. She has been reading and writing poems ever since.
Hazen’s work explores issues of addiction, mental health, and sexual trauma, as well as the restorative power of love and forgiveness. Her poems have appeared in Best American Poetry, American Literary Review, Shenandoah, Southwest Review, The Threepenny Review, The Normal School, and other journals. Alan Squire Publishing released her first book, Chaos Theories, in 2016. Girls Like Us is her second collection. She lives in Baltimore with her family.
Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/50162841-girls-like-us
Alan Squire Publishing (also available is a SoundCloud Audio reading from her first collection): https://alansquirepublishing.com/book-authors/elizabeth-hazen/
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May 4: Musings of a Bookish Kitty (Review)
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