Love Her Wild

I read Love Her Wild immediately after Love & War, which in hindsight was probably a mistake because I was more amped up and pissed off about gender inequality than usual. But what’s done is done.

Before I go ahead and enrage teenage fangirls everywhere, allow me to provide some context. Atticus (real name unknown) is a poetic Instagram sensation with more than (at the time of writing this) 700,000 followers. We know nothing else, really, about him. Even the CBC protected his secret identity. The quantity of followers has resulted in a book deal of at least two books at this time.

I say quantity of followers because I have a hard time believing it is the quality of poetry.

Prior to reading this book, I had already noticed a specific trend on Instagram, as it relates to poetry. The simpler the poem and the more it taps into angst about universal subjects like love and hate, the more people like it. It makes sense: readers online have the attention spans of rabbits and yes, content needs to be quick and digestible.

Atticus’s poems fit the bill for this perfectly, and that in and of itself isn’t a bad thing. There is purpose and an audience.

But.

A lot of his poetry is gender regressive. Take this beaut.

“She was just another broken doll
Dreaming of a boy with glue.”

What now? Or:

“The world is made up of
         too many girls
                     wondering
         if they are pretty
and too many boys
too shy to tell them.”

What about all those girls busy wondering about gun control, their vanishing rights, and then acting as future political leaders?

And my personal enrager:

“Brushing a girl’s hair
behind her ear
once a day
will solve more problems
than all those
therapists
and drugs.”

NO. NO it will not. Take the therapy. Use the drugs, if you need them. A man/boy patting your hair is not going to solve anything more damaging than your disappointment over spilling a glass of water on yourself. How condescending. How dangerous and arrogant to tell women and girls men can fix them. That they’re the only thing that can.

And a lot of Atticus’s readers (based on my super quick and slightly rage-blind assessment of his followers on Instagram) are young women. I can see why they eat it up. The poems require almost no thinking to understand them and are developmentally right where younger women are emotionally. The poems venerate a simple perspective of love and affection with lines like:

“Break my heart
and you will find yourself inside.”

The poems are simple, easy to understand and put love (and women) on a pedestal, which, yes, teenage girls tend to go a bit gaga over. I’m generalizing, so don’t freak out. There is a lot of Disney-esque fantasy about love when you’re 15 years old and haven’t exactly figured out things like gender bias, systemic sexism, unhealthy relationships or how love actually translates in real life among adults who genuinely treat each other like equals. As a 15 year old I may have been equally obsessed with this poetry. I’m just not sure it’s helpful in today’s climate. I think this approach to love is damaging to men and women.

It’s not that Atticus doesn’t have any amusing insights:

“Art takes time—
Monet grew his gardens
before he painted them.”

But this reads more inspo-quote than poetic genius.

Then there is this winner:

“Angels must be warm to fly—
that’s why she always
slept in socks.”

Yep.

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