Review by Lannie Stabile
Last lines can often make or break written art, be it prose or poetry, and it is crucial to know that Girls Like Us by Elizabeth Hazen is practically bulging with debilitating last lines. The surprise-suplex-onto-concrete, knock-the-air-out-of-you kind of debilitating. Hazen is even dastardly enough to look the reader in the eye, then hook them with the very first last line: “We’ve been called so many things that we are not, we startle at the sound of our own names.”
Hazen’s collection is split into two pieces. The first consists of poems we will call “Men. Can’t Live with Them,” which dredges up all too common tales of men wielding their power over women, then patting themselves on the back when they do one decent thing. The second section, because it details the loss of intimacy with men and self, we will call “Can’t Live Without Them.” But perhaps a better way to split the collection is with Hazen’s very own words: “Some nights you fear they’ll come for you; more nights you fear no one will come.”
To offer a fair warning, Hazen has an acute ability to make a reader feel many unwanted things. Like recollection. Like commiseration. Like retroactive fear. Especially if you’re a woman who has ever fallen prey to a man. And truly, how many women haven’t? Even after several days ruminating over Girls Like Us, knowing this book is both incredible and excruciating, it is difficult to decide if Hazen’s approach is a form of therapy or masochism. Perhaps a little bit of each.
Please read this book, and more importantly, please be gentle with yourself.