I have to say that Rachel Wiley is probably my favorite living poet. I’ve been a fan since first seeing Youtube clips of her performing her work live, and I own both of her previous books. I pre-ordered Revenge Body as soon as it was announced and read it the day after it arrived.
Revenge Body feels less relatable to me overall since it seems like a much more personal journey for Wiley. She writes more about her relationship with her family–about recognizing and working to heal from their overwhelming dysfunction and rejection. She also works through a break-up and processes the emotional turmoil from that. Still, her musings on white feminism (A poem called “Intersectional Feminism (AKA Actual Fucking Feminism) Plays the Dozens With White Feminism” is a particular standout), the experience of being fat and female in society, and on searching for love while not being sure one is worthy of it rang true to my experiences.\
As always, Wiley’s use of word-play and imagery is striking–in “Executive Functioning” she says “my truffle/ pig brain broke her teather/ again/ and wandered off to unearth some/ sweetly moldering dopamine.” which is a feeling I’m all too familiar with (your author said…as it took her months to actually complete a proper review for this book). Her voice and attitude shines through, and as a reader I root for her (the point in her journey when she clearly found a good therapist was a high point to me). While I found the majority of the poems in this collection extremely readable and evocative, I didn’t connect as much on a personal level as I did with the work in Nothing Is Okay. Which is fine! I’d still recommend this because aside from the joy of watching her wield words as both shields and weapons, there is also a lot in this work that hits on a more universal experience.