Author Guest Post and Giveaway: Girls Like Us by Elizabeth Hazen

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Good morning everyone. Please join me in welcoming Elizabeth Hazen as she stops by today to chat. There is also a link towards the end of the post to where you can enter to win a copy of her book. But first, here are the details about her latest collection, Girls Like Us….
Book Synopsis:
Girls Like Us is packed with fierce, eloquent, and deeply intelligent poetry focused on female identity and the contradictory personas women are expected to embody. The women in these poems sometimes fear and sometimes knowingly provoke the male gaze. At times, they try to reconcile themselves to the violence that such attentions may bring; at others, they actively defy it. Hazen’s insights into the conflict between desire and wholeness, between self and self-destruction, are harrowing and wise. The predicaments confronted in Girls Like Us are age-old and universal—but in our current era, Hazen’s work has a particular weight, power, and value.

Guest Post:

I am hardly a consistent optimist, but one positive I have noticed in a flood of negatives over the past few months is the way so many of us turn to the arts for comfort. I see dozens of posts each day on social media asking for book recommendations or sharing poems that sparked a sense of connection or beauty. I am reminded how literature – and poetry in particular – is a means of making sense of all this madness and of creating community, even when we are ten feet apart.

I came to poetry as an adolescent, overwhelmed with emotions too big and confusing for me to control. Even then, I used poems to process all I was feeling and to give myself some agency in a world that, for the most part, didn’t really care what I wanted and over which I had no control. Though I have adopted some strategies for coping with my emotions and my perspective is a bit more balanced now than it was back then, I still need poems – the ones I read and the ones I write – to figure out my place in the world.

My first collection of poems, Chaos Theories, examines relationships through the lens of science. For me, having a filter through which to explore my subjects allows me the distance to be objective. For example, I was able to write about the suicide of a close friend by adopting the language of physics and using metaphors from that field to describe my own emotional reality. In my second collection, Girls Like Us, I don’t allow myself quite as much distance from the subject. After the public discourse about sexual assault and misogyny blew up with Trump’s inauguration and with the onset of #MeToo, many old hurts resurfaced for me, as they did for so many women I know. I had to write through all of this and realized that many poems I had been working on were really about what it is to be a woman in world that expects us to be so many contradictory things. The process of writing these poems, though painful at times, was incredibly empowering, and it is my hope that readers will share in that sense of empowerment. The book’s journey, at least as I envisioned it, is one through which the speaker gains a stronger sense of self, wrestles with her own purpose, and ultimately finds the strength to use her voice.

Although many of the poems in Girls Like Us examine the conflicts and traumas associated with being female, there is another thread that runs through the collection: love. I have never been comfortable writing poems that express joy. I am always afraid of becoming sentimental or cliché; however, there are happy aspects of my recent experience to temper the difficulties. Girls Like Us does explore the wreckage of my first marriage and the subsequent bender I went on the for next few years, but it also explores the process of coming out of that period of self-destruction. As I wrote this book, I stopped drinking, curbed my disordered eating, met my now-husband, and finally started to feel comfortable (most of the time) in my own skin. There is triumph as much as there is darkness in this book, and above all of that, there is love.

One of my favorite poems in the collection is also one of the few love poems I have ever written, as its simple title suggests:
Love Poem

I love you changes me
into a tree falling
after erosion has its say.
This process does not
simply take away
the cliff’s edge – it creates
new space, frees me
from fear of stasis.
It tells me I’m still
young enough to be
surprised. I first believed
the tree was dead,
but months later
it blossomed, this emblem
of possibility prostrate
across our path,
this tangle of limbs
like a castaway
clawing her way back
from the sea.
Writing, like any creative endeavor, is an act of faith. I may not think of myself as an optimist, and yet I persist in seeking to understand my own darker impulses; I persist in trying to connect with others by sharing my own experiences and ideas in poems and essays and blog posts. Here is what I believe: there is power in admitting one’s own vulnerability. There is power in owning one’s mistakes. There is power in language and there is power in anger, but there is also power in hope.
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Thank you again for stopping by Elizabeth. Girls Like Us sounds like an interesting collection. I enjoyed reading Love Poem. And I agree there is power in admitting our own vulnerability and owning up to our mistakes so we can learn from them. Poetry can have such a powerful effect on the writer and the reader.
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About the Author:
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Elizabeth Hazen is a poet, essayist, and teacher. A Maryland native, she came of age in a suburb of Washington, D.C. in the pre-internet, grunge-tinted 1990s, when women were riding the third wave of feminism and fighting the accompanying backlash. She began writing poems when she was in middle school, after a kind-hearted librarian handed her Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s A Coney Island of the Mind. She has been reading and writing poems ever since.

Hazen’s work explores issues of addiction, mental health, and sexual trauma, as well as the restorative power of love and forgiveness. Her poems have appeared in Best American Poetry, American Literary Review, Shenandoah, Southwest Review, The Threepenny Review, The Normal School, and other journals. Alan Squire Publishing released her first book, Chaos Theories, in 2016. Girls Like Us is her second collection. She lives in Baltimore with her family.

Purchase Links:

Alan Squire Publishing (also available is a SoundCloud Audio reading from her first collection): https://alansquirepublishing.com/book-authors/elizabeth-hazen/
Virtual Tour Schedule:
May 4: Musings of a Bookish Kitty (Review)
May 15: Allie Reads (Review)
May 19: the bookworm (Guest Post)
May 26: The Book Lover’s Boudoir (Review)
May 28: Impressions in Ink (Review)
June 2: Vidhya Thakkar (Review)
June 9: Everything Distils Into Reading (Review)
June 11: Read, Write and Life Around It (Review)
June 15: Readaholic Zone (Review)
June 16: Read, Write and Life Around It (Interview – tentative)
June 24: Anthony Avina Blog (Review)
June 26: Anthony Avina Blog (Guest Post)
June 30: Review Tales by Jeyran Main (Review)
July 9: The Book Connection (Review)
July 22: Diary of an Eccentric (Review)
July 7: CelticLady’s Reviews (Spotlight/video)
Enter to win a copy of Girls Like Us: CLICK HERE
This has been made possible by:

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Poetic Book Tours on Facebook

10 thoughts on “Author Guest Post and Giveaway: Girls Like Us by Elizabeth Hazen

  1. Thank you for being on the blog tour. I’ve been listening to poetry online quite a bit these days. Patrick Stewart reading Shakespeare’s sonnets and Billy Collins. I think poetry can give us some solace. It has a certain meditative quality about it.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Really enjoyed reading this author blog post. I always love to hear about the background and how the author approaches their work. Will look forward to reading this book!

    Like

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