I’ve never been good at writing poetry. For a thankfully brief period in high school I was under the misguided impression that I was God’s gift to prose, but looking back, I’m secure enough to admit that poetry writing is not my cup of tea.
You may be asking, Vic, what on earth would possess you to review a poetry book then?
Well, the short answer is that it’s my blog and I want to. The slightly longer answer is that I’ve always appreciated poetry and despite my inability to write anything decent myself, I like to think I know a good poem when I see one. Yes, I went through an embarrassing Bukowski phase as a teen, but we won’t talk about that.
What I do want to talk about, however, is a poetry book I recently devoured: The Many Personalities of Me by the lovely Miss Bailey Gee, a Canadian author and poet you’ll be sorry you missed out on if you don’t keep reading.
The Many Personalities of Me tells the story of 29-year-old Bailey’s struggle with her mental health. It covers the ups, the downs and every other stop on the mental illness rollercoaster, as well as relationships and how they can be impacted by mental health. Although it deals specifically with Bailey’s personal thoughts and experiences, The Many Personalities of Me will have those of us who also live with mental illness nodding along and thinking wow, I had no idea other people also felt this way.
If you’ve been here before, you know how much of a fierce advocate I am for mental health conversations – and you know how open I am about my own mental health journey. But in The Many Personalities of Me, Bailey paints a vivid picture of emotions and experiences that I’ve never been able to put into words until now. It’s raw, honest and hard-hitting, and I promise you won’t be able to put it down.
That said, the book does deal with some extremely dark themes including suicide, self harm, and depression – just a quick content warning for those who need one.
My favourite thing about this book is how beautifully Bailey illustrates that her story is ongoing. The book ends on a bittersweet note, which I interpreted as symbolic to the fact that recovery is not necessarily linear, and that not everything ends with a cookie-cutter “and they lived happily ever after” ending. However, it does end with a personal triumph for Bailey, and the final poem contains one of my favourite couplets in the entire book:
I’m a better me without you,
and the best version, too
There’s something whimsical and fun about these lines, which is a refreshing change in tone. It also illustrates Bailey’s growth and that above all, she is happier with herself. I won’t spoil the final line, but I thought it was a perfectly fitting ending that said “my journey isn’t over, but I’m learning along the way.”
If you love dark poetry but are looking for a quick read, you’ll love The Many Personalities of Me. It has a 4.7 out of 5 star rating and is available as a paperback or an eBook on Amazon for only $5.99. If I had to make one criticism, I would say that it ended too quickly and left me wanting more. Luckily, Bailey has another poetry book available and offers bite-sized poems and reflections pretty much daily on Buy Me A Coffee!
Writing unqualified reviews is actually pretty fun; should we make this a thing? What should I review next?