Pretty Girls Are Gravestones By Amber Skye Forbes

Amber Skye Forbes has written a powerful poem entitled “Pretty Girls Are Gravestones”, ( In her poem Amber attacks the objectification of “pretty girls” by men. I found Amber’s use of the ornament analogy striking, (girls are placed in cabinets for men to admire).

I was struck by the poet’s use of the word “vile” to describe men. This led me to ask the writer whether she did, in fact hold that all men are “vile”. Amber responded as follows,

“I don’t feel that way at all about men in general, although this poem was written due to my personal trauma. I hope the men who read this don’t see it as

an attack on them, but they are able to come to their own conclusions about what I could mean. I know what I mean, but it doesn’t matter what I mean. What

matters is others’ interpretations of what I mean. So it’s deliberate that I make it seem like it’s all men. Yet, the true beauty of poetry lies in its

pleasures and usefulness readers glean from it”.

I agree absolutely with Amber. What matters ultimately is not what the poet meant but how readers themselves construe their work. Once a poem or, indeed any composition is available either online and/or in print it is beyond the control of it’s creator and is subject to whatever interpretation readers choose to put upon it. (I made the same point as Amber in my guest post for The Story Reading Ape’s Blog which can be found here, (

2 thoughts on “Pretty Girls Are Gravestones By Amber Skye Forbes

  1. The Brain in the Jar

    I think it’s silly to assume an artists think all men are vile by saying it in a poem or a song. These art forms are rarely rational. They operate on getting an emotional reaction and provocation, an attempt to transmit what it feels like. I was about to say “Hey, women treat pretty men like that too. I’ve been a witness to too many conversation about the hotness of guys” but a poem isn’t an essay that examines things from various perspective.

    Also, I agree with you that once a work is out there the meaning is beyond the author’s control. Plenty of times I read old stories of mine and found new meanings I haven’t thought of.

    1. drewdog2060drewdog2060 Post author

      Thank you for your comment. I have, on occasions been surprised by how people have interpreted my writing. Sometimes the author may engage in deliberate ambiguity making the interpretation of their work even more problematic.


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