Lord of the Butterflies

Andrea Gibson. Button, $16 trade paper (112p) ISBN 978-1-943735-42-6
Propelled by all that is raw, heartfelt, and confessional, this fifth collection from Gibson (Take Me With You) is a tour de force of performance poetry. Gibson is a natural storyteller and delivers with gumption, whether narrating a visit to an ex-lover’s new ivy-coated apartment or digitally editing a sister’s mug shot. Recounting the Orlando nightclub shooting, where first responders “walked through the horrific scene/ of bodies and called out,/ If you are alive, raise your hand,” Gibson’s speaker recalls being in bed hundreds of miles away, imagining that “in that exact moment/ my hand twitched in my sleep,/ some unconscious part of me aware/ that I had a pulse,/ that I was alive.” The book’s subject matter ranges widely, with Gibson delivering a tongue-in-cheek ode to public panic attacks (“You found me at Disney World,/ in line for The Little Mermaid/ Slow Moving Clam Ride”) between tackling Tinder dating and gun violence, and confronting issues that affect the greater LGBTQ community. Despite Gibson’s storytelling prowess, some of these poems feel a little too familiar while simultaneously falling flat on the page. Though this work lacks the vivacity of Gibson’s stage presence and live performance, the book is notable for its energy and diverse array of voice-driven poems. (Dec.)
Reviewed on: 11/19/2018
Release date: 11/01/2018
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