“I want to write a poem for the women on Long Island”

I’ve posted about the talented and unapologetic Olivia Gatwood before, and here she is again—this time with a poem from her “ode to” series, in which she writes odes to things that are supposed to be shameful (“Ode to My Bitch Face” and “Ode to My Period Underwear” are a few of the other titles).

Here, she portrays Long Island women not as the joke they’re often made out to be but as the fierce, take-no-shit survivors and protectors that they are. And she still manages to keep humor intact.

Excerpt from the poem in the video and her collection New American Best Friend:

Ode to the Women on Long Island

I want to write a poem
for the women on Long Island who
when I show them the knife I carry in my purse
tell me it’s not big enough
Who are waitresses and realtors and massage therapists and social workers
and housewives
and tell me they wish they would have been artists
“but life comes fast ya know?
One minute you’re taking typing classes for your new secretary job in the World Trade Center and the next it’s almost over
Life, I mean
but I kicked and screamed my way through it and so will you
I can tell by the way you walk
One more thing—when they call you a bitch, say, ‘Thank you, thank you very much.’”


“When I say that we are all teen girls”

Olivia Gatwood is one of my favorite contemporary poets. I love her perspective, choice of subject matter, and that her poems are just as strong on paper as they are performed.

Spoken word poetry kind of gets a bad rap in the mainstream, but if you’ve never seen good spoken word before, this is what it looks like.

Excerpt from the poem in the video and her collection Life of the Party:

When I Say That We Are All Teen Girls

What is more teen girl than not being
loved but wanting it so badly
that you accept the smallest crumb and call
yourself full; what is more teen girl than
my father’s favorite wrench, its eternal loyalty
and willingness to loosen the most stubborn of bolts;
what is more teen girl than my mother’s chewed
nail beds, than the whine of the floorboards in her