Rated: 3.5 Stars
Edition: Paperback (1st Ed.)
Published: Hachette Books (November 14, 2017)
Strength, rebellion, beauty, and resilience are clearly there. Without question, Gill writes from the heart and with passion. Her renditions of the Disney princesses and the Greek goddesses were absolute gems that I had to read out loud for my brother and sisters. These were more like prose in form, they’re something else, though I felt some were a tad too romanticized, like Athena, which isn’t necessarily bad.
On the whole, I think it’s a pretty neat book. It’s a slim volume, has over a hundred individual poems. However, while each and every poem has merit, some were better articulated than others.
The Truth About Art conveys the concept that compares people to art, practicing being true to one’s self especially as it guarantees degrees of flaws because what makes art art is its imperfections, prioritizing that over the pursuit of perfection, a clinical approach with almost unattainable goals that can dim the joys of living in the moment.
“People don’t look at art because it’s perfect. People look at art because it’s extraordinary, strange, different, captivating, odd, unusual, they look at it because it stands out. Some artwork is so entrancing, people spend hours looking at it in awe of its strangeness. Sometimes rooms are dedicated to one masterpiece so it is given its proper glory. Perfection is boring. It is stereotypical. It blends together and it easily forgotten.
What I’m trying to say is,
You can strive to be perfect.
Or you can strive to be art.”
As I mentioned, it’s not strictly poetry but prose like this mixed in between, which is totally fine by me. It’s the execution that snags at my awareness. This one feels top heavy, a combination of form and excessive descriptors as well as a couple of redundancies that dulled the edges of a promising piece. The last three lines, by contrast, worked together to execute a succinct summary.
It’s one example. A few of them felt mumbled like the idea was there but were muffled from the want of further editing.
Basically, good reading is fecking hard writing. I am aware I’m being a hardass, this review is an exercise in honesty and a refrain against sugar-coating words.
Technicality aside, all in all, Gill is a talent to keep an eye on, one can clearly see she has shown a capability for visually stunning pieces and a knack for imbuing and directing aggression to positive and uplifting ends.
Three major themes I identified are feminism, strength, and recovery. It doesn’t linger on self-pity, she touches on the brokeness others have inflicted but swiftly moves on to how we mustn’t forget our latent powers of healing.
If I ever have kids I’d read this to them, boys or girls, this stuff’s too important that we can’t afford to be narrow-minded. There’s this one poem, I think it’s titled (I’ve misplaced my copy), Sons, where Gill witnessed a little boy get off from bullying a little on the playground and when it was brought to the attention of the relevant grown-ups they used the “boys will be boys” spiel.
When the girl fought back the next time, she was reprimanded in her self-defense. We know this isn’t fiction. Gill’s anger and disgust were understated but were all more powerful being leashed, she stated she’d teach her sons to be respectful, and her daughters to fight because “girls will be girls”, i.e., they won’t be taking shit from sexist assholes. I second that.
For the record, I don’t think this means violence but voices that will speak up in the face of blatant injustice. Not because we’re built differently means we’re weaker or incapable of some of the stuff men can do. Are there limits physiologically? Yes, but I honestly don’t think it’s as restrictive as we’ve been taught to believe.
I noticed the use of wolves as a common thread in many of the pieces, maybe they represent ferocity and where there’s one wolf there’s a pack. We, as women, need to have each other’s backs and, ideally, men who can be allies. Men aren’t our enemies, the idea that people of their gender are superior to women (and therefore more privileged) is.
While I couldn’t fully empathize with some poems, Gill generally did a decent job with getting her thoughts across with sensitivity and poise.