RaveNew CityThe power of this memoir resides in how she crafts searing declarative statements that are devastatingly clear. The moment when young Natasha becomes editor of the school literary magazine and excitedly talks about becoming a writer are discouraged by her stepfather in a moment that is all too common in an abusive household. He tells her she won’t become a writer, but Gwendolyn halts the conversation by stating and repeating \'Natasha will be whatever she wants.\' By this time, Natasha is aware of the situation between Gwendolyn and her stepfather, Joel. She knows that this will mean blows behind closed doors and more threats ... As the memoir grows closer to its end, we see how Natasha was almost murdered by her stepfather at a football game; her mother’s last telephone call, and how her life is cut short, but we also see Natasha the poet recalling a mother that she is struggling to keep alive in her memories as she retraces the files and key events around a story that sets straight the accounts of a personal and painful grief.
RaveNew City LitNot every book can make you laugh out loud, but her book does it easily, and with a self-deprecating flow that still reveals Irby as accepting the flow of her life outside the city in a Midwestern suburb with her wife and children. If you are a fan of Bitches Gotta Eat—the blog that started it all here in Chicago, or her two previous books, Meaty and We Are Never Meeting in Real Life, then you will not be disappointed. Other than the fact that Irby’s prose will make you laugh out loud, the compelling arc of Irby maturing, for better or for worse, has grown with each book ... Irby digs into what initially fueled her writing, how she has grown and what she has discovered about herself in the process. How can that not be a powerful way to end a book where an author has poked fun at themselves? This collection makes an evident revelation that there’s a point to poking fun when you can stand a little stronger after the punchline.
RaveNew City Lit... offers a series of rich and sensual poems that illustrate how love is not just physical or sexual, but it is also tied to how we interact with the natural world ... Diaz continues to use the long line in her poems, but it seems that all extraneous words are clipped away, so these poems zero in on the emotional weight of light, crystals, water, air, myth, hips, a wolf and basketball, and Diaz elevates them to levels of connections with the human body and the divine ... Lesser poets would be clumsy making these connections, but Diaz makes that celebratory respect clear, much in the way that one might appreciate a lover who holds a partner as if they must be protected and stood beside for all the growth and battles ahead of their union ... The influences and structures that Diaz employs contribute to the weight of each poem’s deft premise.
PositiveNew City Lit[A] series of praise poems for a specific audience. That audience is comprised of friends; not just any friend, but the type of friend who stands by you when things are terrible and when you celebrate. This is significant when we consider how there are so many poems that focus on trauma while very few people ask why trauma is compelling, and how do people survive on a day-to-day basis ... With each poem, we glimpse a life, whether it be black, queer, or an HIV-positive life, we are looking at a life, and how other people help us stay alive ... Even if these poems function as their own separate bodies, they commingle to offer a deep understanding of how friendship creates possibilities for survival, even in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds.