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Life of the Party

4.28  ·  Rating details ·  2,340 ratings  ·  347 reviews
i'm a good girl, bad girl, sad girl, dream girl
girl next door sunbathing in the driveway
i wanna be them all at once, i wanna be
all the girls i've ever loved

Lauded for the power of her writing and having attracted an online fan base of millions for her extraordinary spoken-word performances, Olivia Gatwood is a thrilling new voice in contemporary feminist poetry. In Life o
Paperback, 128 pages
Published August 27th 2019 by Dial Press (first published August 20th 2019)
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Sydney Haas Some of the poems revolve around her identity as a queer woman.

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 ·  2,340 ratings  ·  347 reviews

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Dec 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: reviewed
Olivia Gatwood, 27, speaks with brutal honesty to women of her generation. Poetry is subjective; I found some great and some not so much, but she always speaks with great power. In the introduction she writes about her obsession with true crime and explains how it began. I'm old enough to be her mother and I thought we had it hard because we couldn't talk about violence against women and girls -- against us.. My experience was we could speak of it only to our friends, in secret. We couldn't tell ...more
I’ve read some poetry over the years and I’ve discovered some of it works for me and some of it doesn’t. This poetry collection just didn’t really work for me, I appreciated the message, but I feel like a lot of it went over my head to be honest, most of the poems left me feeling confused instead of inspired. All these poems are about violence against women and true crime stories, and some of them were very dark and unsettling. I really liked the first poem, but that’s about it. These poems feel ...more
Reading_ Tam_ Ishly
Nov 22, 2019 rated it liked it
Really intense yet the writing style is damn too congested and boring.
Norah Una Sumner
Maybe I am tired of hearing people talk about the murder of girls like it is both beautiful and out of the ordinary.

I have read Olivia Gatwood's New American Best Friend last year and, as much as I feel like this book was better, it still wasn't for me. The topic is important but dealt with weirdly and somewhat inconsistently. This is more of a prose poetry collection and I personally am not a big fan of it, generally. There are some poems which I really liked, but the amount of those which
Bree Hill
Jul 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: faves
"how can I talk about my grandmother without also mentioning that if everyone is a teen girl, then so are the birds, their soaring cliques, their squawking throats, and the sea, of course, the sea, its moody push and pull, the way we drill into it, fill it with our trash, take and take and take from it and still it holds up each time we walk into it. "

Five heartbreakingly beautiful stars. This collection of poetry is hauntingly stunning. A well crafted cautionary tale from a poetess that is a co
Misian Taylor
May 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book. I've read, pfft, hundreds of books of poetry in this blessed lil life and none of them made me feel riotously proud to have been a teenage girl. In the book, Gatwood is working through the rational terror of having a body the world thinks is theirs. These poems mirrored, validated, explored, and transformed so much anxiety and fear I have felt -- as a tomboy kid, a teenage girl, and as a genderqueer adult working through persistent internalized femmephobia. I identify as gnc a ...more
Rachel León
Aug 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2019, poetry, read-in-2019
Oct 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I absolutely love Olivia Gatwood and her poetry, but if I'm being honest, Life of the Party sat on my nightstand for a while. It sat there while I read other things: some for class and some for pleasure. I knew I would have to be in the right frame of mind to really get into Life of the Party. Gatwood's poetry, while excellent, is not easy. It is not gently reassuring or encouraging. Instead, it asks you tough questions and forces you to examine your fears and biases. Sometimes, you need to pre ...more
Lauren Anna
Sep 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is the absolute best. I will make everyone I care about read this.
Dana Elizabeth
I could talk for hours about how deeply I adore Olivia Gatwood's writing, but I won't bore everyone. No contemporary poet has ever, in my opinion, captured the raw experience of being a woman in the way that Gatwood does. This collection captures the fear, the anxiety and the hatred which come with womanhood, but also the joy and the curiosity. I love this collection, and have already recommended it to pretty much everyone I know. ...more
May 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This was one of the best books of poetry I have ever read. It was a brilliant exploration of society's fascination with murder and the stories of victims, as well as being part memoir. I want everyone to read this. ...more
Rachel Small
Aug 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I think I waited an eternity for this book to be released, and it was so worth it. Gatwood clearly masters translating true crime and fear to poetry, while revealing the intimate nature of girlhood and obsession.

Highly recommend this book, or her previous collection.
May 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is the book that Dead Girls wanted to be, but much more powerful.
Feb 06, 2020 rated it liked it
While I appreciate the conversation that this poetry collection tries to spike in regards to the way true crime objectifies women, I found I didn’t connect to the poems in any major way. They were atmospheric and appropriate for the subject in question, but not moving in any way. If anything, I think I liked the author’s note at the beginning the best. There is a lot to be said about how true crime treats its victims, how it tends to romanticize the heinous tragedies women endure, how more oft ...more
Diana Iozzia
Jul 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
“Life of The Party”
Written by Olivia Gatwood
Reviewed by Diana Iozzia

I’ve found it. A fantastic book of poetry that hit every expectation, that I found relatable, and that I found to be interesting and especially thought-provoking. Olivia Gatwood’s poetry is very feministic, showing the darker sides of being a woman and / or a female in today’s world. This poetry felt very realistic and absolutely challenged many of my conservative opinions. I also felt that Gatwood has a way of explaining someth
Anne-Marie Chicoine
Aug 26, 2019 rated it liked it
(disclaimer : i am not a big reader of poetry)
this collection has some of the most beautiful poems i've ever read - 'ode to my lover's left hand' hello????? how can language even do things like that? i've loved olivia for a few years now, i think she's a brillant writer, outstanding performer, very funny in her podcast. theorically, i love a thematically cohesive poetry book and the narrative construction of life of the party was definitely one of its stronger points. however, i really didn't c
Jul 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I cried like multiple times while reading this book. Every olivia gatwood poem feels like it's written just for me, I just love her brain sm please go read this book. ...more
Jan 27, 2021 rated it liked it
TW: violence, sexual assault, self-harm, death


I first discovered Olivia Gatwood through a video of her reading one of her poems (I can’t remember which one), but I remember it really touched me. A few years later, I saw Life of the Party at the bookstore, and I made the connection. I bought it, and it sat on my bookshelf for a while, due to its heavy topics. It took me a few months to finish this book, too. Sometimes I felt so overwhelmed by the topics and their visceral imagery that I couldn
Feb 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
my first love is dead & nothing about my life has changed. but of course, everything is different.

Life of the Party was unsettlingly relatable. The book is brave in the face of fear, strong in the spaces where we tremble, hates in places where love is demanded.
Olivia Gatwood refuses to apologize for her brutally bold statements, and it’s beautiful.
the pain I don't say
out loud, builds a home
inside me.

This is a book that speaks to my body as much as my brain. I found myself pausing to
Mar 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing
These poems both put many of my feelings into words and also made me feel very viscerally things that I have had the fortune to not yet experience and holy shit. Wow.
A Wallflower
Apr 20, 2020 rated it liked it
"Once, anything resembling the thing we wanted was the thing we wanted." ...more
Jun 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry, faves
Read my full review here!

"Maybe I am tired
of hearing people talk about the murder
of girls like it is both beautiful
and out of the ordinary."

-My grandmother asks why I don't trust men

This collection, inspired by True Crime, and part memoir, made me feel so many different things.
I honestly and truly enjoyed every single poem in this book. I loved how she sometimes changed up the format of her poems, rather than having them each be the same formula. It kept it interesting.
Not only was it a subject
Clem (the villain's quest)
Nov 12, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2-stars
Instagram | youtube

oddly confused at the message this book was trying to convey. The introduction was strong, but the poems were average, unoriginal and blend.
Andrea Arango
Mar 06, 2020 rated it really liked it
This was my first experience consuming Olivia Gatwood's words and oh my goodness. These poems made me cry. Thank you for writing about violent men in all forms. About the women who have to grow around and through them. About the media who sensationalizes this way of life. Thank you for making me ache in recognition and in empathy. ...more
Feb 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
olivia gatwoods poetry is BRUTAL and gut wrenching and terrifying. i have a problem with jumping around and skimming in poetry collections but every poem here just caught me and mesmerized me. i loved and was afraid of every poem in this book. they all have a way of crawling under your skin and holding u all at once. gatwoods poetry is scary and honest but u know u are safe because it is her writing it and she is only saying what you need to hear. i adore this book and it was everything i wanted ...more
zac carter
Jun 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
just finished this as an evening summer storm rolls in and i’m sitting on my driveway already missing it. damn, gatwood, another incredible collection. this is powerful, vivid, and really tucked itself beneath my ribcage so it was always at least a little on my mind. this is a set of vulnerable photos you took as a teenager and forgot about. this is when love is new and it feels like it is the size of the world. this is when you look back on adolescence and realize a bunch of things happened to ...more
Feb 19, 2020 rated it liked it
The first half is incredibly forensic. What I mean by that is that, almost as if motivated by the introduction chapter, the author is just dissecting the topic with a scientific motivation and not out of genuine passion for what's presented. As a result a lot of the poems are pretty to read but do nothing. But once "the lover as a cult" hits in the halfway mark it gets charged, personal, emotional, queer (!!!!!!) and revealing. It gets REALLY good. Just a shame that it takes 60% to get to that p ...more
Sep 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Breathtaking, from beginning to end. I had to go back and read a few of the poems a couple of times, because after every single reading the words got new meaning, adding layers onto layers of poetry and significance. It embodies feminism in such a raw and relatable way, as if Olivia Gatwood herself was peeking into your mind and picking out thoughts!
Erin Clements
Jan 11, 2021 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
The following quote from the acknowledges perfectly describes this collection: “This book is for all of the women who have survived violent men or whose lives were taken by them—who have either become celebrities in the wake of their deaths or who have gone unnamed by the public. I write for you.”

Olivia Gatwood’s work continues to impress. Life of the Party is a work of art.
Nicole Johnson
Dec 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
This collection is absolutely genius, and I could spend forever rereading it.
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Olivia Gatwood is a nationally touring poet, performer, and educator from Albuquerque, New Mexico. Her work has been featured on HBO and Verses & Flow, as well as in Muzzle Magazine, Bustle and The Huffington Post, among others. She has been a finalist at the National Poetry Slam, Women of the World Poetry Slam, and Brave New Voices. She is a graduate of Pratt Institute’s Fiction Program.

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“I want to know
what it means to survive
does it just mean
I get to keep my body?”
“The truth is: It is a privilege to have your body looked for.” 12 likes
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