Twenty seven-year-old Albuquerque native Olivia Gatwood is a queer-identifying poet, activist and educator who focuses on sexual assault prevention and recovery. Her debut book of poetry New American Best Friend was published in 2017 by Button Poetry, an independent publisher of performance poetry. Gatwood’s rise in the literary world can be traced back to the over three million collective views of her slam poetry performances on YouTube, many of which can be read in New American Best Friend. In her first chapbook, the young poet focuses on the communal rituals of girlhood, the formation of identity, questions of sexuality and the established mistreatment of and violence against girls and women in American society. Gatwood’s latest collection of poetry, Life of the Party was released in 2019 to critical acclaim with CultureFly praising her poetry for being “powered by a righteous anger that electrifies far more than it disheartens.” In her second book, Gatwood focuses her capacity for storytelling on recounting the experiences of women abused and killed by men–as well as her own encounters– by effortlessly dissecting the darkest aspects of humanity: obsession, fear, violence and brutality.
Gatwood’s newest release will keep you up through the night fervently flipping pages through stories of violence, reprieve and resilience, while forcing you to confront the realities of gendered-violence. Life of the Party is a real-world reflection of womanhood in a sensationalized and sexualized culture posited through the ferocious and unyielding narrative of a young woman aiming to “help us feel less alone in the dark.”
Trista Mateer cultivated a literary following on her Tumblr blog where she first started posting her unique confessional poetry in 2013. She won the 2015 Goodreads Choice Award for poetry with her self-published collection of poetry The Dogs I Have Kissed. Her latest release, Aphrodite Made Me Do It was also voted one of the best books of the year by Goodreads users in 2019. Aphrodite Made Me Do It is an inventive collection of poems from the point of view of both the poet and Aphrodite, the ancient Greek goddess of love, beauty, desire and sexuality. Nikita Gill, poet and author of Wild Embers, praised Mateer’s newest collection as an “incredible offering from a truly valuable poetic voice that channels love as the ancient and powerful emotion that it is.”
In Aphrodite Made Me Do It, Mateer explores the plurality of women through personal confessions and by taking on the personas of mythical women, such Eve, Pandora and Medusa. Her poetry deals with the collective shaming, vilification and inferiority women are subjected to. However, the overarching theme of the book is healing; giving yourself permission to exist as you are and knowing you are worthy of the space you take up. Mateer’s fourth collection of poetry When the Stars Write Back is expected to be released in 2020.
Brooklyn-based writer Fariha Roísín is a 28-year-old queer Muslim woman whose identity is a central theme in her work. In her career as a writer and culture critic, Roísín’s work has been featured in Nylon, The New York Times and Indiewire among others. Her columns often deal with the importance of self-care for marginalized peoples, body acceptance and the representation of people of color in popular culture and media.
Roísín only recently branched out into the art of poetry with the release of her first collection of poems How to Cure a Ghost in 2019. Her short stanzas battle with white supremacy and the patriarchy, islamophobia, the struggle of coming to terms with your identity and overcoming your past traumas. Poetry lifestyle site Little Infinite commended the collection for being “heart-aching and emotional while offering a sense of hope in a world that desperately needs it.” Roísín’s use of lush wordage and play with form keeps the reader enticed as she questions the purpose of existence and the complexities of survival.
Camonghne Felix is a writer, political strategist and poet from the Bronx. In 2015, Felix was appointed as a Speechwriter to Governor Andrew Cuomo, making her the first African-American female speechwriter, and the youngest speechwriter to serve a New York State governor. She is currently the head communications strategist for Elizabeth Warren’s 2020 presidential campaign. Before her start in political communications, Felix was a freelance writer for Teen Vogue focusing on black activism.
Felix debuted her first poetry collection Build Yourself a Boat in 2019. The book garnered high praise and was ultimately long-listed for the 2019 National Book Award in Poetry. This collection focuses on the trauma and politics of black womanhood, especially during the era of Trump where racism and sexism runs rampantly. The book is a part of the BreakBeat Poets Series, a curation of literary work that showcases hip-hop not only as a culture, but as a tool for political response and social justice. Felix’s style is that of civic poetry, the dissecting and repurposing of public speech in order to reach disinterested audiences. She abandons the poetic tradition of superfluous language and poses each poem as a daily recount or conversation, detailing the exchanges and voicing her inner monologue as they occur. Fellow poet Morgan Parker lauded the book as “fantastically tender… generous in its precision and thoughtful in its experimentation.”