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Book Review: What Kind Of Woman by Kate Baer

What Kind of Woman is Kate Baer’s debut collection of poems. I am always on the fence about poetry as I think that I am either missing the meaning or misunderstanding the main idea. However, I enjoyed this slim anthology. Written in the vein of Rupi Kaur and Amanda Lovelace, the poems stretch from five lines to a page and a half. Her poems can be found on her Instagram page. She also does blackout poetry where she blacks out words from comments and messages and posts them on her profile.

The collection is divided into three parts. The first part is about single women, female friendships, ambition, body image, and date rape. My favorites from this section are “Things My Girlfriends Teach Me” and “Robyn Hood.” The former offers advice like, “When in doubt, try it on,” “If you’re walking on a deserted road, send me your location,” “When life throws you a bag sorrow, hold out your hands,” and “Little by Little, mountains are climbed.” “Robyn Hood” is about taking back the time wasted on “grand delusions,” “curve of our form,” “we called attention to one or the other: her body, our body, the bad shape of things,” and “the power of loose arms and assurance.”

The second part is about marriage and the intricacies, details, and complications between a husband and a wife. My favorites in this part were “For the Advice Cards at Bridal Showers” and “After a Psychic Tells Me I’m going to Die” The advice includes “Go to bed angry. Wake up with a plan” and “This is the beginning of a life you haven’t met.” The second poem lists the things that the person will do before dying.

The last part is about motherhood. The poems that struck me were “Motherload” and “Interview with Self.” The former portrays the mother’s body as a place for organizing and keeping things: “an office in her sternum,” “frustration in her hallux,” and silent things like money, power, safety, choice, and “Tiny banquets of shame” in her clavicle. The interview consists of this question: “Can I have it all? / No.”

I enjoyed this collection of poems as they are beautiful, raw, and truthful. My only concern was it only included heteronormative relationships. That is understandable as Baer seems to be writing from her personal experience. Despite that, this is still a good collection of poems to remind us who we are as women, mothers, wives, friends, and daughters.

Rashmila likes to read books by/about women/people of color. She prefers fiction to reality. A dog parent and word ninja, she volunteers for non-profits and is multilingual. Favorite genre- contemporary literary fiction.


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