An incendiary debut poetry collection that tears into the thick skin of political malaise through to the guts of history
$9.99 – $16.95
In Don’t Let Them See Me Like This, Jasmine Gibson explores myriad intersectional identities in relation to The State, disease, love, sex, failure, and triumph. Speaking to those who feel disillusioned by both radical and banal spaces and inspired/informed by moments of political crisis: Hurricane Katrina, The Jena Six, the extrajudicial executions of Black people, and the periods of insurgency that erupted in response, this book acts as a synthesis of political life and poetic form.
In Don’t let Them See Me Like This, Gibson exhorts, “Like motherfucker tell me what’s real” then tells what’s real with a darkly humorous, deft, and devastating language that illuminates erotic desire in the evil work of empire. “Banks get wet” over the death of the poor while banks get wet with the blood of bodies arriving on ships or doing the death dance of debt. White supremacy salivates for the poet’s body, a body “running on lack,” a body in which “desirability” is so close to “disposability.” From capitalism’s theft of Henrietta Lacks’s cells to the lack engineered to perpetuate consumer societies, to the heavy metals in the water supplies of Flint and New Orleans, to the carceral state, to the “family” and the “nation”, the comptrollers of reproductive labor, these poems cut to the quick with incantatory power.
What to do when you are in the middle of class war? — You will have to hold courage, sensuality, and fear as one dialectical entity, yet watch this entity slip from your hand. This book chronicles this slippage and its resistance. Gibson outlines the abuses cities mired in Capitalism impose on their inhabitants. She does that aided by heavy metal goddesses and devouring lovers. Gibson is a love port addressing its violent failure: a stunning and unsettling book.
This debut poetry collection probes the contradictions of desire amid the ravages of capitalism and racism. In verse that ranges widely in reference and register, Gibson explores the blurry boundaries between body and state, sex and commerce, intimacy and surveillance.
The personal is unavoidably political in Gibson’s debut, a confrontation with the multitudinous layers of her identity and a dissection of how identity is impacted by systemic oppression and anti-blackness. Throughout, she dances between metaphor and casual conversation, revealing slippages that can occur amid a person’s attempts to claim a sense of autonomy.
Each poem accumulates to a rebellious howl as the collection finds the logic of a manifesto on how to deal with the ingrained injustices of race, economics, labor, desire, and disposability.
Don’t Let Them See Me Like This, is ardent and unrestrained. Learning to write outside the finishing schools of sanctioned vers libre, Gibson’s poetry enacts an emphatic opposition to the racial oppression that grounds the United States.
[Gibson’s] work is all encompassing, bringing in the personal and the political and the “large world” together in ways that smash against each other, and create poems of beauty.
For me, the collection’s incessant flitting between anger and sensuality destabilized what it means to undertake a radical politics, moving us away from a hardened antagonism and into something more receptive: an attention to the sensuality of black bodies, and all the ways they can be in the world.
A stunning collection of poems exploring the intersectional minefield created by the state, the body and all of their weighted layers. Gibson’s poems cut through capitalism’s violent impositions on the body and the heart in a true dialectical fashion, exposing the lingering debris of class war that so often goes unspoken and unseen. Gibson wields a lyrical power that is both precise and euphoric.
poems that inexorably tie the personal to the political, Gibson speaks to the disillusioned in moments of crisis, whether in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina or in the long, slow echo of the Syrian civil war.
Gibson’s primary theme is sex — or, more precisely, interpersonal relationships mediated by desire. While not a commodity in itself, sex can be commodified. It is also racialized and gendered; it explodes the discursive logic of rational understanding, flouting the ontological principle of identity.
Hearing Gibson read her work confirmed the hype—she is a young poet of profound ability to animate dense political theory, astrological musings, unapologetic militancy, relationship gossip, and a quality of ineffable nonchalance (that could only come from someone who knows the end of the world is near and can’t be bothered to perform pretense). When I heard that her debut full-length collection was coming out, I jumped at the chance to talk to her about it.
Here there are no gods of private causes. Just words dashing on our behalf, only a breath’s distance in front of the beast.
The Must Read Race & Culture Books of the Summer
Playlist on Verse
The pages of Jasmine Gibson’s Don’t Let Them See Me Like This come drenched… Jasmine Gibson’s poems believe in and bleed an oozing viscosity that bends the categories “nature,” “the body,” and “politics,” pushing them into pressurized zones of distortion, blending to disappearance fictional borders… This is the theory of how we scream.
Zaina Alsous: I feel like you are one of the few poets that I know that genuinely engages with political life and poetic life. What amazes me about your political and poetic life is that you don’t seem jaded at all and really interested in what these two worlds mean. How did you manage to synthesize this in such a harmonious way?
Jasmine Gibson: I first read poetry in one of those racist special classes for “gifted” students in a North Carolina elementary school, probably the only thing I remember from that class now actually. I was a socially anxious kid who really loved people but didn’t know how to be a person in the world, I couldn’t figure out that right balance between the interior absorption and the exterior performance. Reading was my way of forging belonging, which would actually forecast the way I came to feel a deep sense of belonging in political movement.
Jasmine Gibson is a Philly jawn, poet and social worker. Her work has been featured or reviewed in The New Yorker, PoetryNow, Entropy, Hyperallergic, Datableed Zine, LIES: Journal of Materialist …