Kate Baer’s debut poetry collection is full of short, punchy poems. They are about women – friends, mothers, wives – and often about how women navigate a world of men. They are sometimes advice, sometimes for a friend or a daughter. My particular favourite advice poem was “For the Advice Cards at Baby Showers” (the second poem with the same title in the book) which ends with the line, “and no matter the weather, every morning is new.”
The poems are emotional but grounded in the physical. There is the softness of dresses, the smell of bread, the different kinds of light through a window. In Part 3, Baer showcases poems on motherhood and the themes of both stability and fear surface repeatedly. The stability mothers can provide and that is often not understood until later in adulthood. The fear that being a mother can constantly create. Baer does an excellent job of holding multiple emotions in a single short poem. She expresses the frustrations and joys of marriage, the monotony that life can hold along with its simple joys.
I’ve been following Baer’s writing for a while. I think I first found her through her blog where she occasionally talked about books she was reading and reviewed them. Most recently, I follow her on instagram (@katejbaer) where she has shared some of her poetry. (I particularly enjoy her found-style poems that she makes out of messages men send her.) This book was precisely what I expected from reading Baer’s poetry on-line and several of the poems were ones she’d shared there. I’d love to see her tackle some longer forms and I wouldn’t be surprised if we see some sort of narrative from Baer in the future but I think this is quite a strong debut.