These Are the Words: Fearless Verse to Find Your Voice

Macmillan. Oct. 2023. 192p. pap. $14.99. ISBN 9781529083606.
Gr 9 Up–British Indian writer Gill, an “Instapoet” phenomenon, delivers a young adult poetry collection with a feminist perspective. Divided into seasons, each section begins with astrological predictions that are trite in comparison to the poetry. Several poems create all-encompassing second-person statements, such as “Survival,” which presents a litany of how “you” feel after surviving brutal trauma, like rape. Pronoun usage is vital in such works, as in the exemplary choice of “you” in “When You Come Out To Your Parents And Are Met With Love” and its partner poem where “you” are not met with love: “Do not consider the closet again./ It is already overflowing.” Powerful poems regarding toxic relationships, positive relationships, colorism, racism, microaggressions, protesting, voting, body image, the environment, social media messaging, and cultural influences speak directly to youth. Several of the poems are accompanied by black-and-white drawings that fill white space with moving images like doodles on homework. Often, Gill employs a prose and listing format, though free verse couplets are most frequent. A table of contents and a trigger warning is included, although Gill speaks in broad strokes, offering safe spaces in these poems.
VERDICT Recommended for libraries serving young adults who are 15 and up, and especially for fans of Gill’s work.

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