A dazzling debut collection of raw and explosive poems about growing up in a sexist, sensationalized world, from a thrilling new feminist voice.
i’m a good girl, bad girl, dream girl, sad girl
girl next door sunbathing in the driveway
i wanna be them all at once, i wanna be
all the girls I’ve ever loved
Lauded for the power of her writing and having attracted an online fan base of millions for her extraordinary spoken-word performances, Olivia Gatwood now weaves together her own coming-of-age with an investigation into our culture’s romanticization of violence against women. At times blistering and riotous, at times soulful and exuberant, Life of the Party explores the boundary between what is real and what is imagined in a life saturated with fear. Gatwood asks, How does a girl grow into a woman in a world racked by violence? Where is the line between perpetrator and victim? In precise, searing language, she illustrates how what happens to our bodies can make us who we are.
Praise for Life of the Party
“Delicately devastating, this book will make us all ‘feel less alone in the dark.’ ”—Miel Bredouw, writer and comedian, Punch Up the Jam
“Gatwood writes about the women who were forgotten and the men who got off too easy with an effortlessness and empathy and anger that yanked every emotion on the spectrum out of me. Imagine, we get to live in the age of Olivia Gatwood. Goddamn.”—Jamie Loftus, writer and comedian, Boss Whom Is Girl and The Bechdel Cast
“I’ve read every poem in Life of the Party. I’ve read each of them more than once. In some parts of the book the spine is already breaking because I’ve spent so much time poring over it and losing hours in this world Olivia Gatwood has partly created, but partly just invited the reader to enter on their own, caution signs be damned. This book is enlightening, inspiring, igniting, and f***ing scary. I loved every word on every page with a ferocity that frightened me.”—Madeline Brewer, actress, The Handmaid’s Tale, Orange Is the New Black, and Cam
About the Author
Olivia Gatwood has received national recognition for her poetry, writing workshops, and work as an educator in sexual assault prevention and recovery. She is the author of the poetry chapbook New American Best Friend, and her poems have appeared in such publications as Muzzle, Winter Tangerine, Poetry City, Tinderbox Poetry Journal, and The Missouri Review. As a finalist at Brave New Voices, Women of the World Poetry Slam, and the National Poetry Slam, Gatwood has been featured on HBO, HuffPost, MTV, VH1, and the BBC, among other media outlets. She is a full-time touring artist, and has performed at more than two hundred schools and universities worldwide.
“I cannot remember reading a collection of poems in one sitting before, but I dove through Gatwood’s in one evening—and then came up for air and dove again.”—Lauren Berry, author of The Lifting Dress
“Gatwood’s poems invite a contemporary understanding of sexuality and the feminine form, feminism and inclusion, intersection and advocacy. Her metaphors and images are both breath and being. This book is an offering to the silenced, for firepower and reflection. A haystack of hallelujahs resides in these pages.”—Mahogany L. Browne, author of Black Girl Magic
“I love Olivia Gatwood’s voice, her spirit, her genius way of turning and turning and turning a poem until it shines. These poems are a light. I’d follow this book anywhere. I’d trust it with my life.”—Carrie Fountain, author of Burn Lake