Don't Let Them See Me Like This
Don't Let Them See Me Like This
Poetry | $16.95
paperback, 96 pages, 6 x 9
Publication Date: 2018
ISBN: 978-1-937658-83-0

An incendiary debut poetry collection that tears into the thick skin of political malaise through to the guts of history

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.

“Reading this collection is like listening to love poems on a dock while watching transnational cargo ships on fire and sinking. And in these poems, I find relief from my survivor’s guilt and surrender to artificial light; the midpoint of a blues. Here there are no gods of private causes. Just words dashing on our behalf, only a breath’s distance in front of the beast.”—Tongo Eisen-Martin

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.”—Mercedes Eng

“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.”—Maged Zaher


"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 poems are politically defiant and uncompromising—'Heavy Metal' invokes Hurricane Katrina, the Flint water crisis, and the Syrian civil war—but also examine private vulnerabilities. If the poetic voice, veering between the sensual and the conceptual, can seem erratic, this sense of unpredictability compels the reader's attention. 'If it's hysterical, it's historical,' Gibson writes. 'Tell me when it hurts, I'll keep going.'"—The New Yorker

"Jasmine Gibson’s debut collection, published by Nightboat Books, Don’t Let Them See Me Like This is an incendiary epistle to a failed world. 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. Gibson’s work, at moments reminiscent of Ginsberg, transcends individual identity-politics while putting large institutions in the prosecution box. The use of sex as commodity, race as disposable labor, and materialism as sacred are all shredded and burnt, with exacting, dagger-sharp words." DM O'Connor, New Pages

"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. In the opening poem, “Bender,” Gibson gets at the often illusory nature of freedom and the ways a person’s conception of self is at the mercy of larger forces: “we know the state is collecting our image/ for a time when we’ll remember, maybe incorrectly.” In “Heavy Metal,” thoughts of Hurricane Katrina, the Flint water crisis, and the Syrian civil war churn amid descriptions of desirous bodies, “your body on mine and how I want you to melt on my tongue.” A sense of impending doom pervades the work in such lines as “We only mourn blacks who die/ for peace treaties and reasons/ that ultimately don’t lead us to liberation.” If black people are routinely sacrificed for a freedom that never fully arrives, Gibson wonders, then how do the people get free? For Gibson, the collected evidence points in one direction: “If Black Lives Matter, then that means the destruction of America.”—Publishers Weekly

"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. It does by placing her incendiary desire at the centre of the work. Growing up in Philadelphia, the poet is now based in Brooklyn where she works as a psychotherapist; in her late teens she was politicised through activism just before the Occupy movement. Caught up amongst what it means to live within the world’s prevailing settler-colony, the power of this poetry is the energy that swells and bursts across its lines. The book asks, in a world of racialised state violence, how to navigate death, how to escape the ends that foreclose desire?"—Ed Luker, Entropy

“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 (as in “A=A”). The characters in her poems — whose motives are thinly sheltered by reference to an “I” or a “you” — never quite coincide with who and how they fuck. Though they try to recover and knowingly possess their experience of sex, the particulars of various encounters dissolve into discontinuity”—Jeffrey Grunthaner, Hyperallergic

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