Take Me With You, by Andrea Gibson
Publisher: Plume Books
Release Date: January 23, 2018
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
A book small enough to carry with you, with messages big enough to stay with you, from one of the most quotable and influential poets of our time.
Andrea Gibson explores themes of love, gender, politics, sexuality, family, and forgiveness with stunning imagery and a fierce willingness to delve into the exploration of what it means to heal and to be different in this strange age. Take Me With You, illustrated throughout with evocative line drawings by Sarah J. Coleman, is small enough to fit in your bag, with messages that are big enough to wake even the sleepiest heart.
Andrea Gibson is one of those poets whose work always has something different for me when I return to it. Take Me With You is no exception. However, this is a work that will be at its best when read in a physical format, and since my review copy is an e-book, my experience with it was negatively impacted. This is mostly because the formatting didn’t translate well in my review copy, and the final e-version will likely have these issues fixed. However, since formatting is so crucial to written poetry to help convey meaning, I had the frustrating sensation of missing out – it was difficult to tell what lines were intended to belong together, and which were meant to be separated into other ideas. The effect was to make the collection feel like a long and unintentionally disjointed, rambling poem.
For anyone who is familiar with Gibson’s work, some of the content in Take Me With You will also be familiar. Lines from their most well-known poems are sprinkled in pieces throughout, a sort of remix that creates new experiences with these older works. I had mixed feelings about this. I recognized the larger works behind the excerpts, but the language and ideas felt less powerful than they do in the originals, and I felt like they detracted from the new material. In the end, I also realized that while there are some stunners in this collection, I wasn’t really interested in this style of distilling powerful ideas into quotable micro-poems.
I read through Take Me With You multiple times, and true to course, something different spoke to me each time. The imagery and passion in Gibson’s work is always stunning, and Take Me With You is no different. I would recommend this for people who are already familiar with Gibson, but I would hesitate to use this as an introduction to their work.
Andrea Gibson is an award-winning poet and activist who lives in Boulder, Colorado. Their poetry focuses on gender norms, politics, social reform and the struggles LGBTQ people face in today’s society. In addition to using poetry to express what they feel and provide social and political commentary on real issues, they are involved with many activist groups. They often perform at Take Back the Night events, LGBTQ events, pride events, trans events, anti-war rallies, peace rallies, organizations against the occupation of Palestine, and groups focused on examining the wrongs of capitalism, patriarchy and white supremacy. They also work with a group called Vox Feminista whose model is to “comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable” on all these issues. Throughout the year, they tour Universities and other venues across the country.
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I received an advanced copy of this novel in exchange for a fair and honest review.