Olivia Gatwood’s ‘Life of the Party’ Review

Life of the Party
A favorite poem from Life of the Party
In the Future, I Love the Nighttime from Life of the Party

For a person with an English undergraduate degree, I don’t like a large portion of what’s considered “classic” or “Canon”, so I’m often left reading other forms of literature (nonfiction and poetry are my favorites!). Since I discovered I have a soft spot for poetry, Olivia Gatwoood has been one of my greatest inspirations as I write my own poems about my life and experiences. Olivia’s newest collection– Life of the Party is a poetry anthology I’ve been waiting for for the past year and is more engaging, relatable, and scary than I could have ever imagined. Yes you read that right– this collection is terrifying. And as a poetry book about growing up as a girl, violence toward women, and women’s murders, this book should. Life of the Party is overwhelmingly a memoir about Olivia’s fear as a woman in America who can’t escape the nation’s obsession with true crime and stories about missing and murdered girls and women. I’ve been desperately anticipating the release of Life of the Party because I have struggled with my identical fears of being a victim of violent crime due to the glamorization of true crime stories in the media and the widespread reach these narratives have on people across the country. Despite the extremely low chance I (and Olivia) have of being assaulted or murdered, it’s still an emotional fear that the majority of women and girls grow up with since we were little: almost like we were raised with our terror as another type of security blanket or stuffed animal. It’s the same reason why I constantly look over my shoulder whenever I’m walking alone even if it’s bright outside and why I have an almost neverending nagging fear of the dark– not because of supernatural anxieties, but because of the men who could lurk within. Two of the longer poems in Life of the Party are some of my favorites I’ve ever read (My Grandmother Asks Why I Don’t Trust Men” and “In the Future, I Love the Nighttime”), so I wanted to share them and the entire collection of pieces with you all. The book itself is an entire content warning, especially for those who are triggered by sexual assault, violence, and/or the murder of womxn.