Reading Through the Stacks: 5. A Profound Mental Health Journey

Reading through the Oakland Public Library’s poetry collection.

We’re talking about another new volume of poetry today, published in 2021: You Better Be Lightning by Andrea Gibson..

Andrea Gibson (August 13, 1975-) is a queer poet, whose work focuses on LGBTQ+, health, and social justice themes. They are a well known spoken word performer as well. Luckily, if you enjoy this book as I did, there are many more to read.

There is joy and pain in this book. Gibson is so good at articulating how love and hurt feel and at reminding us that we are humans. As the title implies, there are sparks, jolts and fire in this collection. What I felt most reading this book was profound insight coming through twisting popular phrases or juxtaposing them. This is a really accessible collection–it’s easy to read. I ended up devouring it in a single sitting but thinking about it for days and weeks afterwards. The best kind of poetry.

Watch Gibson perform one of their poems (as a heads up, there is discussion of chronic illness, some profanity, and loving sexual content):

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