you do not need light-years to reach them: the dark years work too: You Better Be Lightning, Andrea Gibson

e-ARC, 128 pages
Poetry, adult, queer, themes of grief & death
Button Poetry, November 9th 2021

I don’t aim to be a person of note.
I aim to be a person of whole journals
filled with stories about hitchhiking
the Atlantic coast.

Being born took courage, sir.

WHAT YOU WISH YOU’D SAID TO THE HIGH SCHOOL GUIDANCE COUNSELOR, Andrea Gibson, You Better Be Lightning

I received this e-book at no cost in exchange for an honest review.

The last book of poetry I read was ZigZag Girl by Brenna Twohy. Wait, actually, I lied; it was The Age of Discovery by Alan Michael Parker, but that was for school. The last time I listened to any of Andrea Gibson’s poetry was when I was in my senior year of high school, and also sometimes when it comes up on my Spotify, but that’s involuntary. My favorite poem is “Sorrow is Not My Name” by Ross Gay, and most of my poetry reading comes from either poetry I have to read in school or screenshots that my friend Noor sends me through Discord DMs, or tucked into the body of a letter.

Andrea Gibson was also probably the first person I heard talk about their gender in any way that felt meaningful to me, and it would take me another three years to find pronouns that fit me, even though the year I first heard them speak was the year I found my own name and told other people about it. 

Some poems start off a little silly before they move into heartrending, like “The Museum of Broken Relationships”, some poems start off heartrending and stay that way, like “Time Piece”; all would be better read out loud to me in a little bookshop downtown while I hold a cup of overpriced coffee in my hands. 

The following poems made me tear up:
QUEER YOUTH ARE FIVE TIMES MORE LIKELY TO DIE BY SUICIDE
EVERY TIME I EVER SAID I WANT TO DIE
WHAT LOVE IS
MY GENDER IS THE UNDOING OF GENDER
THE NIGHT SHIFT

If you’re looking for a queer book of poetry, you can’t go wrong with the hundred and twenty-eight pages that belong to YOU BETTER BE LIGHTNING. You can buy it here from Bookshop.org, or borrow it from your local library. (4.25 stars)

What’s your favorite poetry book? What have you been reading, poetry-wise, lately?

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