Reviewed by A. Lawler
One of the early nights in June, I dropped by a poetry event at a local bar here in Albuquerque. Gigi Bella was the night’s featured poet. Several writers had already tried their work at the mic, to varying levels of enthusiasm from the audience. By the time Gigi made her appearance, the audience in question had heard plenty of poems and downed plenty of beers. From my seat near the side of the stage, I was quite sure I had heard the full range of the night’s poetry. I was mistaken; Gigi Bella managed to both surprise & captivate the booze-riddled crowd with her theatrical renditions of several poems. Maybe it was the beer, or maybe it was the brazen attitude in her poetry that led me to drop by her table after the show and buy one of her books. That night I took home The Sad Girl’s Declassified Heartbreak Survival Guide, a tiny poetry chapbook stapled together with a black and white cover.
Starting with the poem, “Fem Renaissance” through to “i say i have never climbed a tree before &,” Gigi spotlights the performative act of being a woman in the 21st century — and all the jagged edges that involves. She admits to the embarrassing moments that most of us shy away from, like falling a little too hard for a Tinder date and a good-looking TSA agent coming across very personal items in our carry-on luggage. She never attempts to sugar-coat any of the above or make it into something lyrical. At first, the honesty is jarring. After a bit more consideration, it makes sense. These are not things that can be made lyrical. The evenings alone at Olive Garden and the mornings spent scrolling through Instagram looking for something approaching self-acceptance cannot be shown in a glamorous light. These moments can (and should) only be shown for what they are: sad, and embarrassing, and so very modern.
That is what Gigi Bella accomplishes in the Sad Girl’s Declassified Heartbreak Survival Guide. She produces a brief collection of poetry for millennials living in the modern world, which is as far from the glamour we try to portray on social media as the earth is from the sun. The feeling can perhaps be most aptly summarized in some of the final lines, “… I have never climbed a tree. The only way to get back down is to fall, break a bone. And I feel like nobody saves the sidekick. Queen of not cool, too soft for her own good. I feel like falling is all I know….”
You can find more information about Gigi Bella’s work on her site www.gigibellapoetry.wordpress.com/ and you can follower her on Instagram @gigibella and Twitter @GGwiththepoetry.
About A. Lawler
A. Lawler is originally from Texas (however now living in New Mexico). A enjoys tarot cards, poetry, axe-throwing.