Valley Girls Become Valley Women
by E. Oliver
Publication Date: 20 February December 2023
Nightingale & Sparrow Press
In an exploration of queer womanhood, Valley Girls Become Valley Women traces its narrator’s struggle to define herself in a space populated by female lovers, relatives, and friends. The enclosed poems weave together childhood traumas, teenage sexual awakenings, and adult anxieties, documenting both a burgeoning queer identity and growing familial expectations. At its core, the collection pulls on ties between women, unraveling the complexities of femininity in the process. The narrator finds herself continually defined by her mother, sister, grandmothers, aunts, and lovers, even as she fails to see remnants of herself within them. Although encapsulating a—rather than the—experience of queer American womanhood, Valley Girls Become Valley Women reflects a ubiquitous longing to understand and be understood without relinquishing one’s sense of self.
The collection travels chronologically from childhood to young adulthood, following its narrator from grade-school field trips to sex-talks over cocktails. Its 62 pages are undeniably a series of love letters to Southern California (if scorched a bit around the edges). The narrator’s life plays out over pitchers of lemonade, in lawns of plastic flamingos, and under brilliant Los Angeles sunsets. In the valley, she hears the stories of her mother and grandmothers and sketches a new one of her own.
About the Author
E. Oliver (she/her) is a poet and short fiction author based in California. She received her BA in history from CSU Northridge and her MA in history from UC Riverside, where she focused on queerness, gender, and sexuality in Early California. Examples of her work can be found in FUNGI Magazine, Columbia Journal, Stonecoast Review, and Capsule Stories. Her latest poetry chapbook, Homing Pigeon, was released by Louisiana Literature Press in 2022.