Thanks to Broken Spine for recommending this great new collection From This Soil by Casey Bailey! Y’all are in for a treat since it will be officially released July 30.
(And here’s a short vlog too!)
Poetry is always a little tricky to review as it’s so unique–sometimes there’s a throughline of theme or story, or maybe not. Sometimes there’s a sense of pacing and obvious structure, but sometimes not. But regardless of how the poetry is written, I find that there’s generally a sense of vulnerability, a sense of emotion, introspection…and that’s definitely what I got from Bailey.
My favorite poem, hands down, is “Dandelion.” I love the imagery, I love how it reminded me of that Spanish saying “Quisieron eterrarnos. Pero, no sabían que éramos semillas,” or “They tried to bury us. But they didn’t know we were seeds.” I loved the sense of hope, empowerment that came from that poem, it just felt so uplifting!
Somewhat similarly, I also really liked “Fertile Soil.” There’s something a little mysterious about this poem–at surface level, it’s the promise “I have been carrying/it, only to pass it.” That definitely piqued my curiosity–it’s so intimate, so personal, not unlike poetry. But I also liked that piece because it felt very understanding, very accepting of the rough edges of one’s personality. It also felt vulnerable: “Don’t touch me.”
I think that’s the key to Bailey’s work here. It’s personal, it’s vulnerable. As another reviewer (Yomi Sode) said, it’s “an introspective loo into the makings of Casey…you feel his honesty, you feel his warmth…you feel his love.”
And you do.
Even at the beginning, when it’s a little darker. Between “She Rattles in the Spice Cupboard,” “A Tritina for Asbestos Hands,” and especially “Weight,” I almost thought that this collection might be a creative way of working through grief. There was just something nostalgic, something that hovered between comfort and pain, about those three poems being back-to-back-to back.
You can feel how Bailey has poured heart and soul into these poems and it’s just phenomenal.
I definitely recommend this chapbook to poetry lovers. But also to those who like thoughtful, thought-provoking pieces. It’s very unique and full of a variety of emotions and ideas, topics, etc., I do think that there’s likely something to appeal to most readers.
That’s all I’ve got for now! Next week, I’ll be partnering once again with Inkberry Books in Niwot, CO. I’ll be taking a look at The Suffering of Lesser Mammals by Greg Sanders. (Then I’ll be taking August off, but keep an eye out because sometimes I post surprise stuff!)