Review: I Hope This Finds You Well by Kate Baer

BOOK STATS

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆
Title: I Hope This Finds You Well: Poems
Author: Kate Baer
Genre: Poetry
Audience: Adult
Format: Paperback
Length: 80 pages
Publisher: Harper Perennial
Release Date: November 9, 2021
Source: Library
Content Warnings: misogyny, body shaming, racism, eating disorder, sexual assault, sexual harassment

SYNOPSIS

The author of the #1 New York Times bestseller What Kind of Woman returns with a collection of erasure poems created from notes she received from followers, supporters and detractors— a ritual that reclaims the vitriol from online trolls and inspires readers to transform what is ugly or painful in their own lives into something beautiful. 

“I’m sure you could benefit from jumping on a treadmill”

“Women WANT a male leader . . . It’s honest to god the basic human playbook”

These are some of the thousands of messages that Kate Baer has received online. Like countless other writers—particularly women—with profiles on the internet, as Kate’s online presence grew, so did the darker messages crowding her inbox. These missives from strangers have ranged from “advice” and opinions to outright harassment. 

At first, these messages resulted in an immediate delete and block. Until, on a whim, Kate decided to transform the cruelty into art, using it to create fresh and intriguing poems. These pieces, along with ones made from notes of gratitude and love, as well as from the words of public figures, have become some of her most beloved work.  

I Hope This Finds You Well is drawn from those works: a book of poetry birthed in the darkness of the internet that offers light and hope. By cleverly building on the harsh negativity and hate women often receive—and combining it with heartwarming messages of support, gratitude, and connection, Kate Baer offers us a lesson in empowerment, showing how we too can turn bitterness into beauty. 

MY THOUGHTS

Erasure is one of my favorite forms of poetry. I love uncovering hidden messages in existing texts and the juxtaposition of ideas in the erasure with the original.

This collection is comprised of erasures of messages sent to the author online. While some of these messages were supportive, many were critical and vitriolic. It is amazing to see what comments complete strangers feel compelled to share within the Internet’s veneer of anonymity, and even more amazing to see how Kate Baer uncovered empowering messages about women, bodies, sexuality, politics, and more no matter the intent of the original text.

This collection is short and sweet, but worth the read! I can’t wait to read more of this poet’s work.

Review: Call Us What We Carry by Amanda Gorman

BOOK STATS

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆
Title: Call Us What We Carry: Poems
Author: Amanda Gorman
Genre: Poetry
Audience: Adult
Format: Hardcover
Length: 228 pages
Publisher: Viking
Release Date: December 7, 2021
Source: Library
Content Warnings: pandemic, racism

SYNOPSIS

Formerly titled The Hill We Climb and Other Poems, Amanda Gorman’s remarkable new collection reveals an energizing and unforgettable voice in American poetry. Call Us What We Carry is Gorman at her finest. Including “The Hill We Climb,” the stirring poem read at the inauguration of the 46th President of the United States, Joe Biden, and bursting with musical language and exploring themes of identity, grief, and memory, this lyric of hope and healing captures an important moment in our country’s consciousness while being utterly timeless.

MY THOUGHTS

These poems were beautiful. Amazing. Transformative. Evocative.

Gorman’s mastery of language and poetic techniques is MILES beyond the poets I’ve been reading lately. She is a stunningly effective and creative writer, weaving recurring themes and images throughout her poems.

I didn’t realize before reading that this collection is largely about pandemics (current, but also historical), also exploring race and identity.

I’ve heard the audiobook is wonderful (and I’m sure it is if that’s what’s accessible to you), but I found these pages to be magical. Poetry is not just about words, it’s also about the space on the page.

Review: Break Your Glass Slippers by Amanda Lovelace

BOOK STATS

Rating: ☆☆☆
Title: Break Your Glass Slippers
Author: Amanda Lovelace
Series: You Are Your Own Fairy Tale #1
Genre: Poetry
Audience: Adult
Format: Paperback
Length: 160 pages
Publisher: Andrews McMeel Publishing
Release Date: March 17, 2020
Source: Personal collection
Content Warnings: child abuse, toxic relationships, sexual harassment, eating disorders, fatphobia, suicide, trauma

SYNOPSIS

more forgetting time.
more midnight dances with yourself
.”

amanda lovelace, the bestselling & award-winning author of the “women are some kind of magic” poetry series, presents a new companion series, “you are your own fairy tale” the first installment, break your glass slippers, is about overcoming those who don’t see your worth, even if that person is sometimes yourself. in the epic tale of your life, you are the most important character while everyone is but a forgotten footnote. even the prince.

MY THOUGHTS

I really enjoy poetry inspired by fairy tales, and I liked how Amanda Lovelace used personal experiences to retell Cinderella. I also appreciated the powder blue illustrations that enhanced some of the poems.

However, the format of “fairy godmother says” didn’t work for me. It felt too much like explaining to the reader how they should interpret the previous poems with generic platitudes like I see on motivational Instagram posts.

Review: Shine Your Icy Crown by Amanda Lovelace

BOOK STATS

Rating: ☆☆.5
Title: Shine Your Icy Crown
Author: Amanda Lovelace
Series: You Are Your Own Fairy Tale #2
Genre: Poetry
Audience: Adult
Format: Paperback
Length: 160 pages
Publisher: Andrews McMeel Publishing
Release Date: March 16, 2021
Source: Personal collection
Content Warnings: child abuse, toxic relationships, sexual assault, eating disorders, mental illness, self-harm, sexism, suicide, trauma

SYNOPSIS

“Make them rue the day they underestimated you.”

This is a story about not letting society dictate the limits of your potential. it’s time to take back your power & realize that you don’t need a king in order to be a queen.

MY THOUGHTS

This is my least favorite collection I’ve read from this author so far. It features the same format I disliked in the first book in this series (this time it’s “big sister says”); however, while the previous book modernizes Cinderella, this one draws inspiration from a variety of tales “to be an entirely new fairy tale of its own,” but that just made it feel more vague to me. In general, Amanda Lovelace’s poems are inconsistent in quality. There were some poems that really spoke to me, but I thought most of these in particular lacked true depth and creative use of language.

Review: I Wish I Had a Wookiee by Ian Doescher

BOOK STATS

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆
Title: I Wish I Had a Wookiee: And Other Poems for Our Galaxy
Author: Ian Doescher
Illustrator: Tim Budgen
Genre: Poetry
Audience: Children
Format: Hardcover
Length: 128 pages
Publisher: Quirk Books
Release Date: September 28, 2021
Source: Publisher
Recommended for fans of: Star Wars

SYNOPSIS

Inspired by the beloved world of Star Wars, this collection of over 75 whimsical and original poems is a celebration of childhood, creativity, imagination, and the early years of Star Wars fandom.

In “My Pet AT-AT,” a ten-year-old dreams of playing hide and seek and fetch with an AT-AT. In “Dad’s Luke Skywalker Figurine,” a child opens their dad’s untouched action figure but, instead of getting into trouble, helps their dad re-discover his own sense of play. In “T-16 Dreams,” a little girl imagines herself flying through the galaxy, the Empire hot on her trail, to help with her real-world fear of flying.

Set in the hearts and minds of young children who love Star Wars, and filled with the characters you know and love, I Wish I Had a Wookiee is the perfect gift for the young Star Wars fan–and the young at heart.

MY THOUGHTS

Shel Silverstein meets a galaxy far, far away in this sweet poetry collection that is perfect for young Star Wars fans and the young at heart.

These playful and heartwarming poems describe young Star Wars fans and the effect the series has on their lives. It also explores themes of family, friendship, confidence, and imagination.

I also loved Tim Budgen’s simple illustrations with pops of color. This book truly captures the magic of Star Wars and its influence on generation of children.

Thank you to the publisher for the gifted copy.

Review: Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds

BOOK STATS

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆
Title: Long Way Down
Author: Jason Reynolds
Genre: Contemporary/Verse
Audience: Young Adult
Format: Paperback
Length: 306 pages
Publisher: Atheneum
Release Date: October 24, 2017
Source: Personal collection
Recommended for fans of: The Hate U Give, Dear Martin
Content Warnings: gun violence, death, gangs, drugs

SYNOPSIS

An ode to Put the Damn Guns Down, this is New York Times bestseller Jason Reynolds’s fiercely stunning novel that takes place in sixty potent seconds—the time it takes a kid to decide whether or not he’s going to murder the guy who killed his brother.

A cannon. A strap.
A piece. A biscuit.
A burner. A heater.
A chopper. A gat.
A hammer
A tool
for RULE

Or, you can call it a gun. That’s what fifteen-year-old Will has shoved in the back waistband of his jeans. See, his brother Shawn was just murdered. And Will knows the rules. No crying. No snitching. Revenge. That’s where Will’s now heading, with that gun shoved in the back waistband of his jeans, the gun that was his brother’s gun. He gets on the elevator, seventh floor, stoked. He knows who he’s after. Or does he? As the elevator stops on the sixth floor, on comes Buck. Buck, Will finds out, is who gave Shawn the gun before Will took the gun. Buck tells Will to check that the gun is even loaded. And that’s when Will sees that one bullet is missing. And the only one who could have fired Shawn’s gun was Shawn. Huh. Will didn’t know that Shawn had ever actually USED his gun. Bigger huh. BUCK IS DEAD. But Buck’s in the elevator? Just as Will’s trying to think this through, the door to the next floor opens. A teenage girl gets on, waves away the smoke from Dead Buck’s cigarette. Will doesn’t know her, but she knew him. Knew. When they were eight. And stray bullets had cut through the playground, and Will had tried to cover her, but she was hit anyway, and so what she wants to know, on that fifth floor elevator stop, is, what if Will, Will with the gun shoved in the back waistband of his jeans, MISSES.

And so it goes, the whole long way down, as the elevator stops on each floor, and at each stop someone connected to his brother gets on to give Will a piece to a bigger story than the one he thinks he knows. A story that might never know an END…if WILL gets off that elevator.

Told in short, fierce staccato narrative verse, Long Way Down is a fast and furious, dazzlingly brilliant look at teenage gun violence, as could only be told by Jason Reynolds.

MY THOUGHTS

This is an incredibly powerful novel in verse about the systems that perpetuate a cycle of violence in black communities. The story is told through a series of short, time-stamped poems as Will rides down an elevator on his way to kill his brother’s killer.

During this short elevator rides, Will encounters the ghosts of people in his life who were victims of violence. They illustrate for him a larger picture as Will decides whether to follow through with his plan.

The writing was incredible. I love how Jason Reynolds makes poetry so gripping and accessible. This is also an incredibly important and emotional story for young adult readers. As a teacher, this is one of the top book recs I see every year for secondary students. I’m so glad I finally took the time to read this (which was not very much time at all) so I can add it and the graphic novel adaptation to my classroom library.

Review: Home Body by Rupi Kaur

BOOK STATS

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Title: Home Body
Author: Rupi Kaur
Genre: Poetry
Audience: Adult
Format: Paperback
Length: 192 pages
Publisher: Andrews McMeel Publishing
Release Date: November 17, 2020
Source: Personal collection
Content Warnings: sexual assault, abuse, racism, misogyny

SYNOPSIS

Rupi Kaur constantly embraces growth, and in home body, she walks readers through a reflective and intimate journey visiting the past, the present, and the potential of the self. home body is a collection of raw, honest conversations with oneself – reminding readers to fill up on love, acceptance, community, family, and embrace change. Illustrated by the author, themes of nature and nurture, light and dark, rest here.

i dive into the well of my body
and end up in another world
everything i need
already exists in me
there’s no need
to look anywhere else
– home

MY THOUGHTS

This collection explores the mind and the body, how they can feel connected and disconnected. I always admire how open Rupi Kaur is in her poems, baring her soul through her words.

This is probably my least favorite of her collections. Some of her poems are so deep, insightful, and personal, but others felt very generic and surface-level to me, like they could’ve been written by anyone.

Still, many poems speak to me and my experiences, and I can see myself rereading certain poems in times when I need strength.

Review: The Sun and Her Flowers by Rupi Kaur

BOOK STATS

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆
Title: The Sun and Her Flowers
Author: Rupi Kaur
Genre: Poetry
Audience: Adult
Format: Paperback
Length: 256 pages
Publisher: Andrews McMeel Publishing
Release Date: October 3, 2017
Source: Personal Collection
Content Warnings: sexual assault, abuse, misogyny

SYNOPSIS

From Rupi Kaur, the #1 New York Times bestselling author of milk and honey, comes her long-awaited second collection of poetry. A vibrant and transcendent journey about growth and healing. Ancestry and honoring one’s roots. Expatriation and rising up to find a home within yourself.

Divided into five chapters and illustrated by Kaur, the sun and her flowers is a journey of wilting, falling, rooting, rising, and blooming. A celebration of love in all its forms.

this is the recipe of life
said my mother
as she held me in her arms as i wept
think of those flowers you plant
in the garden each year
they will teach you
that people too
must wilt
fall
root
rise
in order to bloom

MY THOUGHTS

Another lovely, emotional poetry collection from Rupi Kaur. I thought that some sections were definitely stronger than others, and that overall the poems improved as the collection progressed. There were enough poems that spoke to me deeply to earn a five star rating.

Review: Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur

BOOK STATS

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆
Title: Milk & Honey
Author: Rupi Kaur
Genre: Poetry
Audience: Adult
Format: Paperback
Length: 204 pages
Publisher: Andrews McMeel
Release Date: November 4, 2014
Source: Personal collection
Recommended for fans of: confessional/feminist poetry
Content Warnings: rape, abuse

SYNOPSIS

Milk and honey’ is a collection of poetry and prose about survival. About the experience of violence, abuse, love, loss, and femininity. It is split into four chapters, and each chapter serves a different purpose. Deals with a different pain. Heals a different heartache. ‘milk and honey’ takes readers through a journey of the most bitter moments in life and finds sweetness in them because there is sweetness everywhere if you are just willing to look.

MY THOUGHTS

I wish I had read this sooner, but I know these words came into my life right when I needed them most. These poems of love and breaking and healing filled my soul and brought tears to my eyes. This collection is a love letter to women, their bodies, and the amazing things that happen when we seek love from within instead of validation from others.

Review: The Mermaid’s Voice Returns in This One by Amanda Lovelace

BOOK STATS

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆
Title: The Mermaid’s Voice Returns in This One
Author: Amanda Lovelace
Series: Women Are Some Kind of Magic #3
Genre: Poetry
Audience: Adult
Format: Paperpack
Length: 208 pages
Publisher: Andrews McMeel
Release Date: March 5, 2019
Source: Personal collection
Recommended for fans of: confessional poetry
Content Warnings: see book for a comprehensive trigger warnings
Series Reviews: (1) The Princess Saves Herself in This One, (2) The Witch Doesn’t Burn in This One

SYNOPSIS

Goodreads Choice Award-winning poet and USA TODAY bestselling author Amanda Lovelace presents the mermaid’s voice returns in this one — the third and final installment in her “women are some kind of magic” series, featuring a foreword from Lang Leav and 13 guest poems from leading voices in poetry such as Nikita Gill, KY Robinson, and Orion Carloto.

The mermaid is known for her siren song, luring bedroom-eyed sailors to their demise. However, beneath these misguided myths are tales of escapism and healing, which Lovelace weaves throughout this empowering collection of poetry, taking you on a journey from the sea to the stars. They tried to silence her once and for all, but the mermaid’s voice returns in this one.

MY THOUGHTS

I loved the way Amanda Lovelace shared her trauma and healing in hauntingly beautiful ways. Again, this collection was more focused on one topic than The Princess Saves Herself in This One, which made it more cohesive and effective.

I also really loved how the last section included poems from contributors, connecting Lovelace’s personal journey to a more universal experience of womanhood. I am excited to look up the contributing poets and read more of their works!

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