Gender Flytrap Poetry Review

gender flytrap book cover

A version of this poetry review for Gender Flytrap by Zoe Estelle Hitzel first appeared in The Lesbrary.

gender flytrap book cover

I picked up this collection of poems from Sundress Publications, an independent press. It’s a fascinating look at the interconnected nature of gender, sexuality, sex and identity.

Form & Structure

The forms start as stanzas and lines written in fragments. But as the speaker gains greater clarity of who they are, the images and statements become more solid. A few pieces in between bolly back and forth between this fragmented style and coherent thoughts.

It seems as though the purpose of this structure is to indicate the speaker’s growing anxieties and uncertainty about their gender, sex and identity. Hitzel shows an adept hand in creating a structure that works perfectly with the language and emotions of each poem.

Rhythm & Word Choice

While the poem structures vary between fragmented and complete, the word choice always creates precision and purposeful rhythm. It gives the feeling that even in the most turbulent moments, the speaker knows who they are. They know where they stand beneath insecurity and anxiety.

Hitzel delivers heartbreaking lines in the simplest language, like this one:

“the television showed what it was capable of showing
and my father heard what he was capable of hearing…”

Lines like the two above depict the common way discussions and discourse about transitioning and transgender individuals are often perceived and treated. The speaker throughout the poems often analyzes and talks about others’ perceptions of their identity, and how those perceptions affect their perceptions of themselves.

In another poem, “Dial-up Internet — Diagnosis” Hitzel delivers a gut punch of emotion that anyone who’s ever questioned their identity has felt. The speaker’s tone approaches the subject from an analytical perspective but still manages to send a shock of pain to the heart.

Hitzel excels at this juxtaposition by using a neutral tone of rationale to describe the turmoil of feelings on the subject matter. The poem “Math Problem” is another standout piece that takes an analytical eye to the topic of transitioning.

The titular poem is another standout piece in the collection as the speaker delineates all the different labels and names she’s been given. Its ending line packs so much in such a matter-of-fact statement:

“I appreciate how the silence calls me nothing.”

Rating for Gender Flytrap

There are so many poems to choose from with powerful lines and emotional messages. It’s easy to keep flipping from one piece to the next and savoring each word. Sometimes a second and third read is necessary to fully appreciate Hitzel’s brilliant use of language and lyricism.

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: