G’day friends! How are you today? What have you been reading? As I’m writing this, I’m still working through Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor!
Anyway, today’s post is a blog tour post for Girls Like Us by Elizabeth Hazen. Girls Like Us is Hazen’s sophmore poetry collection and I would describe it as a collection which focuses on the identity of the woman. According to the synopsis, this collection is meant to demonstrate the ways in which women have to mold who they are for the purpose of fitting into the categories society positions us in – ‘mother, bitch, slut’ etc.
As usual, before I get into the review portion of this post, here is the synopsis that can also be found on Goodreads:
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.
If you have known me for long, you know that I absolutely adore poetry. I love reading it, I love interpreting it and I love the emotions that poetry can bring out of me. I absolutely adore poetry in all its forms. But, reading poetry is also an incredibly subjective experience, so poetry that I adore, you might not connect well and vice versa. So the following review is purely my own opinion.
We’ve been called so many things that we are not,
we startle at the sound of our own name.– from the poem titled, ‘Devices’.
This poetry collection tackles many issues/ideas that I would say, characterise many women’s own experiences. The writing is quite beautiful and I enjoyed how each poem was lovingly crafted- as the reader, you can feel the effort the author placed in each chosen word, in the way the sentences were formulated and how the verses flow into eachother.
One of my favourite poems that I personally connected with was titled, ‘Love Poem’ and the way that I interpreted it was self-empowerment, self-love and reflecting on personal identity. One of my favourite parts of it were:
…I first believed
the tree was dead,
but months later
it blossomed, this emblem
of possibility prostrate
across our path,
this tangle of limbs
like a castaway
clawing her way back
from the sea.
All that I was saying which I enjoyed about this poetry collection, I think, can be observed within the above excerpt. I just really liked it.
However, the reason why I have rated this poetry collection a 3 out of 5 stars is mainly personal; though the prose is beautiful, I couldn’t emotionally connect with much of the collection. At times, the flowery, almost lyrical language was stunning and worked well – but other times it seemed superfluous.
I do recommend this poetry collection, especially if you enjoy the likes of Amanda Lovelace as well as Alicia Cook.
Be sure to check out the rest of the stops on this blog tour!
Until next time, happy reading!
All the love,
About the Poet:
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.
Listen to Chaos Theory collection.