Sunday, May 03, 2020

Bookish Thoughts: Girls Like Us: Poems by Elizabeth Hazen

Rhyme relies on repetition: pink drink,big wig, tramp stamp, rank skank.
[Opening of "Devices" from Girls Like Us]

Girls Like Us: Poems by Elizabeth Hazen
Alan Squire Press, 2020
Poetry; 72 pgs
Girls Like Us is packed with fierce, eloquent, and deeply intelligent poetry focused on female identity and the contradictory personas women are expected to embody. The women in these poems sometimes fear and sometimes knowingly provoke the male gaze. At times, they try to reconcile themselves to the violence that such attentions may bring; at others, they actively defy it. Hazen’s insights into the conflict between desire and wholeness, between self and self-destruction, are harrowing and wise. The predicaments confronted in Girls Like Us are age-old and universal—but in our current era, Hazen’s work has a particular weight, power, and value. [Book Synopsis]

It has been awhile since I last took part in a book tour. I decided to give Girls Like Us a try after reading the blurb. I like poetry that delves into women's issues and looks at them from different vantage points. Given our current situation of sheltering in place and my struggle to focus on reading for long, poetry seems to be where I am finding my solace the most--at least reading-wise. 

This was my first experience reading Elizabeth Hazen's poetry, and I was immediately taken with the poet's concise and thoughtful prose. I liked how multi-faceted her poetry is in terms of the different directions she takes it and is able to capture ideas and memories in a real and personal way. I think many women will see themselves in her poems to some extent.

The collection opens with a poem called "Devices" which I think was the perfect start both for it's immediate shock value and the truth in her words. She pulls no punches, as you can see in the opening line at the beginning of this post. The ending sums it up so well:
We've been called so many things that we are not, 
we startle at the sound of our own names.
This may be me putting my own spin on it, but Hazen's poem "Diagnosis I" is one I identified with right away, as someone who has sought medical attention at one time or another and had my symptoms be dismissed rather than taken seriously:
[...] in his preacher's
tenor, the doctor insisted
I had no cause for pain.
One of my favorite poems in the collection is "Lucky Girl" I just love the way the words come together and the images they elicit:
Everyone reassures me that I'm not
as bad as the worst thing
I've done. Nothing
is ever black and white.
Even the made bed is just
a precursor to disorder.
and later this also from "Lucky Girl:"
the seduction of a lie,
the way it tastes like whiskey, dark
and heavy [...]
Then there is Hazen's beautiful poem "Dream" in which she writes about a trapped hummingbird, or rather, a metaphor for something else entirely--and completely relatable as dreams often are:
An anticlimax of
release, she flaps just
as before, but stays
improbably in place.
I think my favorite of all the poems in the collection thought was one called "Electricity," which spoke to both the daughter and mother in me:
there was no keeping her.
Now, my own strumming
fingers soothe my son, 
though my mind's a clutter
of charges, eighty wingbeats
per second. I lie until his
breath deepens and the ticking
clock becomes a heartbeat.
Overall this is a rich and meaningful collection of poetry that I am glad I took a chance on. I walked away from the collection knowing it will be one I return to again and again. 

About the Author: 
Elizabeth Hazen is a poet, essayist, and teacher. A Maryland native, she came of age in a suburb of Washington, D.C. in the pre-internet, grunge-tinted 1990s, when women were riding the third wave of feminism and fighting the accompanying backlash. She began writing poems when she was in middle school, after a kind-hearted librarian handed her Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s A Coney Island of the Mind. She has been reading and writing poems ever since.
Hazen’s work explores issues of addiction, mental health, and sexual trauma, as well as the restorative power of love and forgiveness. Her poems have appeared in Best American Poetry, American Literary Review, Shenandoah,Southwest  Review, The Threepenny Review, The Normal School, and other journals. Alan Squire Publishing released her first book, Chaos Theories, in 2016. Girls Like Us is her second collection. She lives in Baltimore with her family.
To learn more about Elizabeth Hazen, and her book, please visit the author's website.

If you would like to win a copy of Girls Like Us, please check out the Rafflecopter giveaway

Add to GoodReads:
Girls Like Us
Available on Amazon.

hope you will check out what others have to say about Girls Like Us: Poems by Elizabeth Hazen on the Poetic Book Tours route:
Blog Tour Schedule:
May 4: Musings of a Bookish Kitty (Review)
May 15: Allie Reads (Review)
May 19: the bookworm (Guest Post)
May 26: The Book Lover’s Boudoir (Review)
May 28: Impressions in Ink (Review)
June 2: Vidhya Thakkar (Review)
June 9: Everything Distils Into Reading (Review)
June 11: Read, Write and Life Around It (Review)
June 15: Readaholic Zone (Review)
June 16: Read, Write and Life Around It (Interview – tentative)
June 24: Anthony Avina Blog (Review)
June 26: Anthony Avina Blog (Guest Post)
June 30: Review Tales by Jeyran Main (Review)
July 9: The Book Connection (Review)
July 22: Diary of an Eccentric (Review)
July 7: CelticLady’s Reviews (Spotlight/video)
Follow the blog tour with the hashtag #GirlsLikeUs #MeToo #ElizabethHazen

Many thanks to the Poetic Book Tours and Elizabeth Hazen for the opportunity to be a part of this book tour! Thank you also for providing a copy of the book for my honest review.

© 2020, Musings of a Bookish Kitty. All Rights Reserved. If you're reading this on a site other than Musings of a Bookish Kitty or Wendy's feed, be aware that this post has been stolen and is used without permission.


  1. I'm not a poetry person but this sounds lovely! I must remember to look for a copy after the circuit breaker is over and we can go out again

    1. Eustacia - I hope you enjoy this collection if you get a chance to read it!

    2. This is a wonderful review of a wonderful book. I have to say it took me a while to read the entire volume because I went back to reread as often as I went forward. The honesty in its emotion as well as the language to capture it is breathtaking.

  2. Thank you for being on the blog tour. I'm so glad you really loved this collection. Please feel free to post on Amazon and GoodReads when you are able.

  3. Like the bits of poetry you quoted from this one! I don't read a lot of poetry but I wouldn't mind giving Hazen's book a try. :)

    1. Lark - I hope you enjoy it if you do try it! I don't read poetry as often I would like. I'm always reminded when I do though that I should fit more into my regular reading because I do enjoy it so much.

  4. I feel like her poems had more power in previous era's, not this one. Mostly because this is as good as both men and women have ever had it. There is no great enemy to women out there. The poems sound like they were fun to read through!

    Be well!

    1. Shaban - I have not read her previous poetry and so cannot compare her past work with this collection. I did enjoy this one quite a bit. I do agree that women have it much better than they once did, but there are still many issues and struggles women have to endure that need to be addressed and resolved.

  5. I love discovering new poets to read. Thank you for sharing this because from the snippets you posted I think I would like this collection.

    1. Iliana - You're welcome. I hope you enjoy this collection if you give it a try!

  6. great cover. i don't read a lot of poetry, but what i have read i enjoyed.
    sherry @ fundinmental

    1. Sherry - I do not read a lot either, although I've been making more of an effort to do so.

  7. I really need to make more of an effort to read poetry. I haven't done so since college and I know I'm missing out on great collections like this one. I really love the themes this collection focuses on.

    1. Suzanne - There are some great ones out there. I hope you do give reading poetry a try again. One of the advantages of poetry is you often don't have to sit and read an entire collection all at once. You can read a poem here and there, and it doesn't take much time at all.

  8. Great post Wendy, I am glad you enjoyed reading Girls Like Us and I like the snippets you shared here. I love discovering new poets. This author is stopping by my blog for a guest post this month.

  9. I'm not really a big poetry person but I've been reading nature based poetry with my son for school and it's really made me realize how much I like the format. I will have to look for this one.

    1. Katherine - I am trying to get my daughter more into poetry. She loves songs, and I keep telling her song lyrics are a form of poetry. ;-)


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