ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — One of the true-crime poems in Olivia Gatwood’s hard-hitting debut collection “Life of the Party —— Poems” is about the still unidentified West Mesa Bone Collector, believed to have killed 11 brown and black women and a fetus.
In the free-verse poem “Body Count: 13,” Gatwood writes, “Maybe it was a person/who thought they were doing the Lord’s work/murdering prostitutes/addicts and burying them/in a shallow grave.”
In the subsequent poem “Eubank & Candelaria, 2009,” Gatwood briefly returns to the subject: “I always thought it was a misnomer ——/collector —— decorative and terrifying/but inaccurate. The name/made it sound like a hobby.”
They are among a number of poems in the book examining violence and victims of violence and courageously exploring her own sexuality and queerness as she came of age.