Read a F*cking Book GIVEAWAY: Write Bloody Wants To Fill Your Heart With Poems

Hey word nerds, let’s end National Poetry Month with a bang! Celebrated poetry press Write Bloody, beacon of generosity and badassery that it is, wants to stuff two wonderful Autostraddle readers with poetry up to your shiny eyeballs.

Write Bloody is home to some of the most decorated performance poets in the scene today, and a bunch of those poets are badass queer ladies! The two winners of this prize pack will each get five books by Write Bloody authors:

The Madness Vase by Andrea Gibson

giveaway andrea gibson

Andrea Gibson has been making queer girls swoon for years, and her latest book reminds us, quite simply, that it will all be ok.

The Smell of Good Mud by Lauren Zuniga

giveaway lauren zuniga

Lauren Zuniga writes about community, family, identity, politics and the possibilities we hold in our hands. Her book feels like home.

Floating, Brilliant, Gone by Franny Choi

giveaway franny choi

Franny Choi has been tearing up poetry slams for years, and her debut book, released last month, brings her volatile, gorgeous work to the page.

After The Witch Hunt by Megan Falley

giveaway megan falley

Megan Falley is going to find the light, and she’s taking you with her.

Glitter In The Blood: A Writer’s Guide by Mindy Netifee

giveaway mindy

Many of us who love poetry also try to write it sometimes. But y’all, words are hard. This is perhaps the most accessible and enjoyable writer’s guide I’ve ever used. Learn to write amazing poems like Mindy’s with her relatable advice and unintimidating exercises.

The set will come in a fancy and stylish bag from Blue Q. ARE YOU ENTICED YET?! I thought so. To be eligible for the contest, all you have to do is tell us about your favorite poem in the comments by 5 p.m. PST on Wednesday April 30. We’ll select two commenters at random, and Write Bloody will send you all these kickass books directly to your doorstep! Bonus Xs and Os if your comment is also in the form of a poem. I am so excited for two of you to get all these books! Your brain and heart are going to turn into fiery angel cupcake dreams.

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Adrian is a writer, a Texan and a divinity student at Vanderbilt University. They write about bisexuality, gender, religion, politics, music and a whole lot of feelings at Autostraddle and wherever fine words are sold. They have a dog named after Alison Bechdel. Follow Adrian on Twitter @adrianwhitetx.

Adrian has written 151 articles for us.


  1. I will embrace the nerd label. I am drooling over these books!!!

    favorite poem of all all all time is
    Notes to the Music, by Laura Solomon,

    especially, these lines:

    “In the unbuttoned beginning
    there was love and non-love.

    Later there were things like
    a sky that chirped

    and a blue-headed sea,
    a grain of sand that said

    think of the words of the poem
    as notes to the music”

    I love the other poems people are posting here.
    Yay for new words, new poems and new loves.

  2. I’m not going to lie… I’ve only very recently gotten into poetry to save myself from, well, myself. So I’m fairly boring in that if I were to have to pick a favorite poem it would be one of Shakespeare’s sonnets. I’m trying to expand my horizons – and I’ll definitely be adding these to the list!

  3. this is the best thing. my favorite poem right now (changes frequently, currently in finals) is the shadow voice by margaret atwood.

    The Shadow Voice
    by Margaret Atwood

    My shadow said to me:
    what is the matter

    Isn’t the moon warm
    enough for you
    why do you need
    the blanket of another body

    Whose kiss is moss

    Around the picnic tables
    The bright pink hands held sandwiches
    crumbled by distance. Flies crawl
    over the sweet instant

    You know what is in these blankets

    The trees outside are bending with
    children shooting guns. Leave
    them alone. They are playing
    games of their own.

    I give water, I give clean crusts

    Aren’t there enough words
    flowing in your veins
    to keep you going.

  4. so this is by no means my favorite poet of all time forever, but it’s the first one that came to mind, so. it’s called somewhere i have never travelled, gladly beyond by e.e. cummings and i have a lot of feelings about it and think it’s pretty much perfect:

    somewhere i have never travelled,gladly beyond
    any experience,your eyes have their silence:
    in your most frail gesture are things which enclose me,
    or which i cannot touch because they are too near

    your slightest look easily will unclose me
    though i have closed myself as fingers,
    you open always petal by petal myself as Spring opens
    (touching skilfully,mysteriously)her first rose

    or if your wish be to close me, i and
    my life will shut very beautifully ,suddenly,
    as when the heart of this flower imagines
    the snow carefully everywhere descending;

    nothing which we are to perceive in this world equals
    the power of your intense fragility:whose texture
    compels me with the color of its countries,
    rendering death and forever with each breathing

    (i do not know what it is about you that closes
    and opens;only something in me understands
    the voice of your eyes is deeper than all roses)
    nobody,not even the rain,has such small hands

  5. There are several poems that I would say are my favorites. Today I’ll go with Sylvia Plath’s “Fever 103,” especially these last 7 stanzas:

    I am too pure for you or anyone.
    Your body
    Hurts me as the world hurts God. I am a lantern——

    My head a moon
    Of Japanese paper, my gold beaten skin
    Infinitely delicate and infinitely expensive.

    Does not my heat astound you! And my light!
    All by myself I am a huge camellia
    Glowing and coming and going, flush on flush.

    I think I am going up,
    I think I may rise——
    The beads of hot metal fly, and I love, I

    Am a pure acetylene
    Attended by roses,

    By kisses, by cherubim,
    By whatever these pink things mean!
    Not you, nor him

    Nor him, nor him
    (My selves dissolving, old whore petticoats)——
    To Paradise.

  6. Because I love you Last Night By E E Cummings
    He is such a fantastic writer
    he has captivated me since high school, and I have never found a poet who could describe the “cursive” ways of love quite as well.

    Bukowski is great for drunk nights. I love andrea gibson and buddy wakefield.
    I also like Leonard cohen.

  7. all the best
    stanzas know,
    where my blood pools and
    aches under my skin.
    instead of pausing to
    kiss my bruises softly,
    they hit them; trip me over
    line breaks and
    draw me through commas like razors.
    they kiss my tears
    and don’t apologize.

    (sorry, my whole answer can’t be in poem format but that is generally why i like the ones that become favorites. they hurt with me in a way that feels good.)

    i am also biased by my relationships, and i know a lot of beautiful budding poet flowers out there so i’m going to go with one of my deviantart friends Masvida, who is just plain awesome and whom i love.

    a short part of their poem, memories…

    I cannot erase you,
    but they say that

    skin renews itself every seven years.

    In four years, my skin will no longer be
    the same skin you touched.
    I repeat this to myself
    too many times a day, and

    I still love

  8. …finally got an account so I could comment on this! There are too many, but today I’m picking “Self Portrait” by Cynthia Cruz:

    Self Portrait

    I did not want my body
    Spackled in the world’s
    Black beads and broke
    Diamonds. What the world

    Wanted, I did not. Of the things
    It wanted. The body of Sunday
    Morning, the warm wine and
    The blood. The dripping fox

    Furs dragged through the black New
    York snow—the parked car, the pearls,
    To the first pew—the funders,
    The trustees, the bloat, the red weight of

    The world. Their faces. I wanted not
    That. I wanted Saint Francis, the love of
    His animals. The wolf, broken and bleeding—
    That was me.

  9. My favorites change with the days, but this one has always stuck with me.
    It’s by the lovely Joy Harjo.

    She had some horses.

    She had horses who were bodies of sand.
    She had horses who were maps drawn of blood.
    She had horses who were skins of ocean water.
    She had horses who were the blue air of sky.
    She had horses who were fur and teeth.
    She had horses who were clay and would break.
    She had horses who were splintered red cliff.

    She had some horses.

    She had horses with long, pointed breasts.
    She had horses with full, brown thighs.
    She had horses who laughed too much.
    She had horses who threw rocks at glass houses.
    She had horses who licked razor blades.

    She had some horses.

    She had horses who danced in their mothers’ arms.
    She had horses who thought they were the sun and their bodies shone and burned
    like stars.
    She had horses who waltzed nightly on the moon.
    She had horses who were much too shy, and kept quiet in stalls of their own

    She had some horses.

    She had horses who liked Creek Stomp Dance songs.
    She had horses who cried in their beer.
    She had horses who spit at male queens who made them afraid of themselves.
    She had horses who said they weren’t afraid.
    She had horses who lied.
    She had horses who told the truth, who were stripped bare of their tongues.

    She had some horses.

    She had horses who called themselves, “horse.”
    She had horses who called themselves, “spirit.” and kept their voices secret and to
    She had horses who had no names.
    She had horses who had books of names.

    She had some horses.

    She had horses who whispered in the dark, who were afraid to speak.
    She had horses who screamed out of fear of the silence, who carried knives to
    protect themselves from ghosts.
    She had horses who waited for destruction.
    She had horses who waited for resurrection.

    She had some horses.

    She had horses who got down on their knees for any savior.
    She had horses who thought their high price had saved them.
    She had horses who tried to save her, who climbed in her bed at night and prayed
    as they raped her.

    She had some horses.

    She had some horses she loved.
    She had some horses she hated.

    These were the same horses.

  10. I’m pumped. How could you have a body and be made of atoms and react any other way?

    Choosing is not something I do well, I have recently been joy-gasming to Ellen Bass, but I am going to have to choose Pitcher by Kay Ryan in this exact moment.


    A pitcher molds
    the air in it, dividing
    from the air it holds. And
    should the pitcher
    vanish, something
    would take a minute
    to escape, a gradually
    diminishing integrity
    a thinning pitcherful
    of pitcher shape.

    This was the poem that inspired this line in a recent short story of mine, which has sort of been surging around in me, and thus is still on my mind, heart and lips.

    “The way the skin on Hera’s face moved made Selah feel empty, hallowed out like a jack-o-lantern, rid of all the goo and seeds of herself and ready to be a light-bucket for something new, a pumpkin-shaped vessel for sweet and new pumpkin-shaped air.”

  11. My favorite poem is “The Waking” by Theodore Roethke.

    the first part goes:

    “I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.
    I feel my fate in what I cannot fear.
    I learn by going where I have to go.”

    It reminds me that everything will end, and to enjoy the journey.
    I read it at my grandma’s funeral this past summer.

  12. There are so many it’s hard to choose. “When Love Arrives” by Philip Kaye and Sarah Kay reminds the listener “you are beautiful” even when one doesn’t want to hear it. Aaaaand they’re both babes.
    And “Andrew” by our love Andrea perfectly describes wibbly-wobbly gender and sexual identity.
    So those. And a haiku:

    Andrea Gibson
    Will prob never be my wife
    But a girl can dream

  13. ah, picking a favorite poem.
    this has always felt
    somewhat like
    picking a favorite limb
    or child
    or perhaps
    a favorite star.

    (poetry was my polaris
    when all else was dark.)

    i don’t know if i’d call this one my very favorite, but i’ve always loved tattered kaddish by adrienne rich.

    Taurean reaper of the wild apple field
    messenger from earthmire gleaning
    transcripts of fog
    in the nineteenth year and the eleventh month
    speak your tattered Kaddish for all suicides:

    Praise to life though it crumbled in like a tunnel
    on ones we knew and loved

    Praise to life though its windows blew shut
    on the breathing-room of ones we knew and loved

    Praise to life though ones we knew and loved
    loved it badly, too well, and not enough

    Praise to life though it tightened like a knot
    on the hearts of ones we thought we knew loved us

    Praise to life giving room and reason
    to ones we knew and loved who felt unpraisable

    Praise to them, how they loved it, when they could.

  14. “One Art” by Elizabeth Bishop, about loss.

    I read it first when I was thirteen, before I knew I was queer and before I knew Bishop was queer and I didn’t understand it at all but somehow it still perfectly described me. Six years and a senior thesis about her work later, it still does.

    One Art

    The art of losing isn’t hard to master;
    so many things seem filled with the intent
    to be lost that their loss is no disaster.

    Lose something every day. Accept the fluster
    of lost door keys, the hour badly spent.
    The art of losing isn’t hard to master.

    Then practice losing farther, losing faster:
    places, and names, and where it was you meant
    to travel. None of these will bring disaster.

    I lost my mother’s watch. And look! my last, or
    next-to-last, of three loved houses went.
    The art of losing isn’t hard to master.

    I lost two cities, lovely ones. And, vaster,
    some realms I owned, two rivers, a continent.
    I miss them, but it wasn’t a disaster.

    —Even losing you (the joking voice, a gesture
    I love) I shan’t have lied. It’s evident
    the art of losing’s not too hard to master
    though it may look like (Write it!) like disaster.

  15. One of my favorite poems is by an amazing professor of mine, Aracelis Girmay. There’s this poem in her collection “Teeth” that just hits me all the time. It’s called “For Estefani Lora, Third Grade, Who Made Me a Card” also know (by me) as “loveisforeverybody.”

    It’s so beautiful, and dear, and playful. It’s just about love for love’s sake, in all forms, for all people. Y’all should check it out.

  16. There is something about spoken poetry that grips not only my hears but my eyes and feelings as well. Hearing the author or someone passionate about reading a poem creates depth not understood or felt when simply read, therefore, along with the theme of the Madness Base which is one of the things that have kept me sane. The poem that comes to mind immediately when I think of poetry is “Swing Set by Andrea Gibson, praise it!

    Swing Set.

    “Are you a boy or a girl?”
    he asks, staring up at me in all three feet of his pudding face grandeur, and I say “Dylan,
    you’ve been in this class for three years and you still don’t know if I’m a boy or a girl?”
    “Well, at this point, I don’t really think it matters, do you?”
    “Uhm, no.
    Can I have a push on the swing?”
    And this happens every day.
    It’s a tidal wave of kindergarten curiosity rushing straight for the rocks of me, whatever I am.

    In the class, when we discuss the Milky Way galaxy, the orbit of the Sun around the Earth or whatever.
    Jupiter, Saturn, Mars, and kids, do you know that some of the stars we see when we look up in the sky are so far away, they’ve already burned out?
    What do you think of that?
    “Uh my mom says that even though you got hairs that grow from your legs, and the hairs on your head grow short and poky, and that you smell really bad, like my dad, that you’re a girl.”
    “Thank you, Timmy.”
    And so it goes.

    On the playground, she peers up at me from behind her pink power puff sunglasses and then asks, “Do you have a boyfriend?”
    And I say no, and she says “Oh… do you have a girlfriend?”
    And I say “No, but if by some miracle, twenty years from now, I ever finally do, then I’ll definitely bring her by to meet you. How’s that?”
    “Okay. Can I have a push on the swing?”

    And that’s the thing.
    They don’t care.
    They don’t care. Us, on the other hand.
    My father sitting across the table at Christmas dinner, gritting his teeth over his still-full plate, his appetite raped away by the intrusion of my haircut,
    “What were you thinking? You used to be such a pretty girl!”
    Frat boys, drunken, screaming, leaning out of the windows of their daddys’ SUVs,
    “Hey! Are you a faggot or a dyke?”
    And I wonder what would happen if I met up with them in the middle of the night.

    Then of course there’s always the somehow not-quite-bright enough fluorescent light of the public restroom, “Sir! Sir, do you realize this is the ladies’ room?”
    “Yes, ma’am, I do,
    it’s just that I didn’t feel comfortable sticking this tampon up my penis in the men’s room.”

    But the best, the best is always the mother at the market, sticking up her nose while pushing aside her daughter’s wide eyes, whispering “Don’t stare, it’s rude.”
    And I want to say, “Listen, lady, the only rude thing I see is your paranoid parental hand pushing aside the best education on self that little girl’s ever gonna get,
    living with your Maybelline lipstick after hips and pedi kiwi, vanilla-smelling beauty;
    so why don’t you take your pinks and blues, your boy-girl rules and shove them in that car with your fucking issue of Cosmo,
    because tomorrow, I start my day with twenty-eight minds who know a hell of a lot more than you.
    And if I show up in a pink frilly dress, those kids won’t love me any more, or less.”

    “Hey, are you a boy or a — never mind, can I have a push on the swing?”
    And some day, y’all, when we grow up, it’s all gonna be that simple.

    I feel like this poem sums it up in one, just wish there was a bit more love in there, because that is what this place is all about.

  17. I’ve really liked reading all the poems that everyone has shared. And I have a soft spot for sharing things with a community.
    That probably explains why one of my favorites poems is, “Gate A-4” by Naomi Shihab Nye.

    After learning my flight was detained 4 hours, I heard the announcement: “If anyone in the vicinity of gate 4-A understands any Arabic, please come to the gate immediately.”

    Well — one pauses these days. Gate 4-A was my own gate. I went there. An older woman in full traditional Palestinian dress, just like my grandma wore, was crumpled to the floor, wailing loudly. Help, said the flight service person. Talk to her. What is her problem? We told her the flight was going to be four hours late and she did this.

    I put my arm around her and spoke to her haltingly. Shu dow-a, shu-biduck habibti, stani stani schway, min fadlick, sho bit se-wee? The minute she heard any words she knew — however poorly used – she stopped crying. She thought our flight had been cancelled entirely. She needed to be in El Paso for some major medical treatment the following day. I said, No, no, we’re fine, you’ll get there, just late, who is picking you up? Let’s call him and tell him.

    We called her son and I spoke with him in English. I told him I would stay with his mother till we got on the plane and would ride next to her. She talked to him. Then we called her other sons just for the fun of it. Then we called my dad and he and she spoke for a while in Arabic and found out, of course, they had ten shared friends. Then I thought, just for the heck of it, why not call some Palestinian poets I know and let them chat with her. This all took up about 2 hours. She was laughing a lot by then. Telling about her life. Answering questions.

    She had pulled a sack of homemade mamool cookies — little powdered sugar crumbly mounds stuffed with dates and nuts — out of her bag — and was offering them to all the women at the gate. To my amazement, not a single woman declined one. It was like a sacrament. The traveler from Argentina, the traveler from California, the lovely woman from Laredo — we were all covered with the same powdered sugar. And smiling. There are no better cookies.

    And then the airline broke out the free beverages from huge coolers — non-alcoholic — and the two little girls for our flight, one African-American, one Mexican-American — ran around serving us all apple juice and lemonade and they were covered with powdered sugar, too.

    And I noticed my new best friend — by now we were holding hands — had a potted plant poking out of her bag, some medicinal thing, with green furry leaves. Such an old country traveling tradition. Always carry a plant. Always stay rooted to somewhere.

    And I looked around that gate of late and weary ones and thought, This is the world I want to live in. The shared world. Not a single person in this gate — once the crying of confusion stopped — has seemed apprehensive about any other person. They took the cookies. I wanted to hug all those other women, too. This can still happen, anywhere.

    Not everything is lost.

  18. I know there are times
    when you will lay your head to rest
    and have a moment of brilliance
    that grows into a perfect order of words
    but you will fall asleep
    instead of painting it down on paper.
    When you wake up,
    you will have forgotten the idea completely
    and miss it like a front tooth
    but at least you know how to recognize moments of brilliance,
    because even at your worst
    you are fucking incredible.

    — Buddy Wakefield, from “The Information Man”

  19. One of my very favorite poems is Andrea Gibson’s “I Sing The Body Electric; Especially When My Power Is Out.”

    This stanza rings most true for me:

    I said to the the sun
    “Tell me about the big bang”
    The sun said
    “it hurts to become.”

  20. I love Walt Whitman’s “Leaves of Grass,” especially read aloud!

    “Not words, not music or rhyme I want…not custom or lecture, not even the best, only the lull I like, the hum of your valued voice.”

  21. ‘Sleeping’ by Andrea Gibson was the first slam poetry performance I had ever seen on youtube and it brought me to tears. I fell in love with the raw emotions she wrote with and wished that one day I could write something that visceral. It opened me up to the world of slam poetry on youtube and introduced me to so many amazing poets and I am so grateful for that.

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