I have never considered myself a poetry person. During those lessons in high school, I always found the material abstract and difficult to connect with. In college, I finally understood the beauty of this format, but the writing was in Spanish. Somehow, in that language, I found the poems more compelling.
It's probably been 10 years since I've picked up a poetry collection. I decided to try again because so many female authors, journalists and podcast hosts who I respect and admire started raving about Kate Baer and her work.
Baer has recently published her first book, titled What Kind of Woman. It's 90 pages and presented in three parts. Part I focuses on the female experience, part II on marriage and part III on motherhood.
When I started reading, I blew through the first 30 poems without even realizing it. At the end of each piece, I found myself thinking, "Wow. Yes. That's exactly it."
Baer has a way of articulating the complicated realities of being a woman in a way that is deeply rooted in truth, no matter the consequence. She shares things others are afraid to say. Or admit.
The poems I connected with most were about diet culture and accepting your body. I am going to include two of those below.
You may also recognize her poem, "Female Candidate," which was making the rounds on Instagram ahead of the election in November.
I finished this book in two sittings. I was completely gripped.
If you've been reading Pop.Bop.Shop. for a while, then you already know that I always read the acknowledgements section at the end of every book. I was delighted to see Baer thank Joanna Goddard of Cup of Jo, whose blog I have been reading for over a decade. She writes, "Thank you to the ever lovely Joanna Goddard who uses her platform to elevate female artists and writers who are finding their voice."
I also loved this gem, "Thank you to Ann Marie at the Panera in Hummelstown, Pennsylvania who made sure I sat in my booth with the outlet for my laptop so I could write this book. Your joy makes my day." It's the little things, isn't it?
Ok, sharing my two favorite poems from the collection below. Run, don't walk, to get this book.
Nothing Tastes as Good as Skinny Feels (page 20)
Unless you count your grandmother's
cake, hand mixed while she waits for the
sound of your breath at the door. Or if
you consider the taste of the sea, arms
raised while you enter, salt at your lips.
Or maybe you've forgotten the taste of
a lover, your mouth on his skin. I ask -
have you ever tasted the cool swill of
freedom? The consuming rush of a
quiet, radical love.
Robyn Hood (page 22)
Imagine if we took back our diets,
our grand delusions, the time spent
thinking about the curve of our form.
Imagine if we took back every time we
called attention to one or the other: her
body, our body, the bad shape of things.
Imagine the minutes that would stretch
into hours. Day after day stolen back like
Imagine the power of loose arms and
assurance. The years welcomed home
in a soft, cotton dress.
*Image courtesy of The Incessant Bookworm.