One of the most original performance poets of her generation, Melissa Lozada-Oliva has captivated crowds across the country and online with her vivid narratives. Humorous and biting, personal and communal, self-deprecating and unapologetically self-loving, peluda (meaning “hairy” or “hairy beast”) is the poet at her best. The book explores the relationship between femininity and body hair as well as the intersections of family, class, the immigrant experience, Latina identity, and much more, all through Lozada-Oliva’s unique lens and striking voice. Peluda is a powerful testimony on body image and the triumph over taboo.

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peluda is such a moving work of poetry discussing femininity, immigration, and stigmas of body hair. While reading these passages, I could genuinely feel Oliva’s emotions and feelings. She truly has a way with words, stitching together bold sentences to create this luscious work of art.

you still believe in new skin. you still believe in magic. every crack is about you and it is only good luck your headphones are in and you think you’re in a movie, don’t you? you’re imagining all of it aren’t you? the swivel of the make-up chair. the reveal. the new you facing you in the mirror sighing, saying, yes, yes this is how I am supposed to be.

I also really loved how Oliva integrated her Latina culture, how she acknowledged the issue of how people of color and / or immigrants are oppressed. To avoid this oppression, there’s this need to blend in and disown your roots, which is so horribly wrong, but is something that is prominent in our society. It’s works like this that are very eye-opening for those of us that don’t experience of oppression, and help raise awareness.

jessica jones is so dark-haired she must be a latina

I pretend she is so that I am

not once again rooting for some angry white girl

so I tell myself that

all of this throwing a heater out of the window must be chingona

all of this rude lonely girl must be bruja

all of this breaking and entering and you shoot at me, I’ll pull the bullet out of my ruined jacket and shove it up your ass with my pinky finger must be mujerista

(Bonus points for mentioning Jessica Jones.)

However, I’ll be honest in saying there were a few pieces I had trouble binding into an emotion or feeling, that I wasn’t quite sure what the writer was trying to say. But that’s the beautiful thing about writing (especially poetry) is that we all interpret the words in different ways. So even though I couldn’t quite decipher some of these passages doesn’t mean others won’t.

a plot hole is?

a plot hole is if this is a modern tale then why did the townspeople have torches I mean come on

a plot hole is what happened

to all the hair and did it fuck up the town’s plumbing

a plot hole is doesn’t she get cold, naked like that

a plot hole is there for us, whenever we aren’t

looking, for us to fall in and claw at the dark

Overall, I found peluda to be such a gorgeous piece of work that gave me a lot of thoughts and ideas to ponder. If you’re in the need of some feminist, own voice poetry, then I highly recommend picking up peluda.

Thank you to Button Poetry for an ARC of peluda. I received this ARC in exchange for an honest review, however this does not affect my opinion. Any quotes mentioned above are taken from the ARC and are subject to change upon publication.




3 thoughts on “BOOK REVIEW // PELUDA

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