It’s a twist no one saw coming...
Instagram, the photo-sharing app released in 2010, has somehow become the launchpad for the careers of some of today’s biggest names in poetry. Rupi Kaur, Morgan Harper Nichols, Cleo Wade – before there were books, world tours, speaking engagements; their words glowed on screen in grid format.
Perhaps it’s the immediacy. Perhaps it’s the way they make magic of the mundane, putting into perfectly-distilled words the complexity of the everyday. That’s certainly the case for poet Kate Baer, whose poetry muses on motherhood and marriage, and speaks to parents in the trenches with honesty, vulnerability, and above all, relatability.
Kate’s work has just made the leap from screen to page with the release of her debut book What Kind Of Woman. The number one best seller in New Releases in Poetry, the book is wry, funny, touching, and at times, devastating.
We’ve selected a few favourite pieces below.
What Kind Of Woman is available for preorder
Author Kate Baer
For My Daughter On A Bad Day
Life will rough you up. Throw you to the
shore like a wave crashing– sand in your
hair, blood in your teeth. When grief sits
with you, hand dipped with rage, let it
linger. Hold its pulse in your hands. There
is no remedy for a bad haircut or ruined
love like time . Even when death is coming,
even when the filth rises in the back of
this is not the worst of it. And if it is?
Listen for the catbird calling. No matter
the wreckage, they still sing for you.
In labor she is untamed. Body arching against the pain,
bright and cutting, until at last the smell of earth and blood.
Oh! she cries. A velvet scalp arrives under her chin. Oh .
At home she is a deflated balloon. Bruised fruit. All hips and skin
and breasts. She cradles herself in one arm, babe in the other.
To the doctor: should she still be limping to and from the car?
A woman on the screen says she’s getting her body back. From
where, she does not know. Once, she pulls on jeans, dark and fitted,
in the middle of a Saturday. Once, she throws her rings into the sea.
In summer the zinnias bloom along the hillside while the baby
coos her animal song. What is this life? she thinks gaily. Still she
she covers her motherhood like a scandal. Hushes it like a profanity.
Dear husband. Dear lover. Dear darling of my
heart. No, I do not want to attend the barbeque
scheduled cruelly over naptime. I do not want to
go to the recital either. Can you tell your sister
that too? In the morning I saw you dancing with
our daughter and for a moment I almost cried.
I hate when people say I almost cried . Why even
mention it at all?
What time will you be home? What time do you
think you may be home? What time should we
wait for you outside on the lawn while the pasta
boils over and the baby cries because he misses you?
Oh, before I go– what time will you be home?
Sometimes I wonder what would happen if you
died and I had to write a eulogy while lost in my
grief. What would I say? And who would take out
the trash bins on dark Sunday nights or hold our
children while they cried through fever dreams?
What time will you be home?
What Children Say
I can’t reach my cup, my water bottle,
the snack up on the shelf. I can’t do
it. I won’t do it. I would never do it
in a million years. You need to help
me. Help me faster. Do it the way
I asked you to. I don’t like pizza or
watermelon. I don’t like anything I
liked before. I do not want it. I do
not need it. I will never move up off
this floor. Do not help me. Do not
hold me. Do not sit down beside my
bed. I’m not sleeping. I’m not tired.
I’m too scared to fall asleep. You must
hold me. You must rock me. Do not
leave me all alone. I am thirsty. I am
hungry. I am too tired to put my toys
away. Do not be angry. Do not start
singing. Where is the butterfly I drew?
I’m still hungry. I’m still playing. Will
you leave me? Will you stay?
What Mothers Say
I am tired. I am sleeping. I am heading
up to bed. Is it Tuesday? What’s tomorrow?
When’s the last I slept alone?
I am thinking. I am talking. Do you see
I’m on the phone? Bring the dishes, find
your blanket, put that book back on the
shelf. It is bedtime. It is rest time. You
need to go and brush again. I am working.
I am eating. This is why we bought you
toys. Go and play now, find your brother,
find elsewhere to make your ship. I am
angry, you’re not listening. Please stop
crying on the floor. It’s a school night.
Do your homework. Let me come and
scratch your back. I am listening. I can
hear you. Thanks for telling me the
truth. Let me closer, let me help you.
I am here now. Let me stay.
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.