Striking a Match in the Darkness of Her Mind (I Would Leave Me If I Could – A Book Review)

I Would Leave Me If I Could

Author: Halsey

Published: 2020

On Goodreads

My Rating:

Rated R for raw and ravaging and real poetry that will rip you up and strip you even though it ain’t about you.

One of the most compelling voices of her generation and hailed as an artist, activist, and unbridled feminist.

Halsey bares more than her soul in this collection of poetry, gives so much, breaking down walls. From delving into the highs and lows of her relationships to issues with her father to handling and living with mental illness and much more. Halsey strips it all away, leaving only just her with these autobiographical poems considered to be among her best and most raw work to date.

Utterly divine like a raw gemstone. Beautiful, uncut, natural, untouchable. Halsey reveled in the personal and relatable both together and separately on a level that resonated with a heavy weight. When it comes to poetry it takes heavy weight, a firm voice, an outcry, a vulnerability, and so much more. You’re not just putting words on the page, you’re putting your breath, fingerprints, and blood on it. Halsey went up and beyond. Sometimes poetry can take you into a light and warm and heart-bursting place and sometimes, like here, it’ll take you to the dark places you try not to go because its dark and scary. I heard one of the loudest warrior cries I’ve ever heard throughout this collection.

Each poem, both short yet inevitably long, has a powerful voice. The structure and style both lyrical. I swear I could almost hear the notes singing in my head as I read. While some prose followed no discernable pattern except to tell a story or memory or moment of chaotic feeling, some found a rhyming scheme that wasn’t forced but noticeable.

Topic itself was something distressing and sometimes nerve-wracking but only because it was heartbreakingly real. A vast majority of the book explores the things that has threatened to destroy not only Halsey, I feel, but so many of us. They have made her strong and unbreakable. A survivor, fighter, and the reason she is who she is. There was much that I understood on a personal level and much that was like being touched by a fire poker. Sounds horrible but in truth, it’s not. It’s a burning touch that is striking and hurts and choked me and I find that if poetry does this, and so much more, then it’s reached to a piece of you that you didn’t expect. Poetry is good at plucking at your vulnerabilities like feathers, surprising you and the reader, but bringing understanding. What I love so much is those who find that they share in what you’ve experienced.

Overall

From its diverse cover of the many faces of a woman to its final page to the color and emotion wrought throughout, this is a work of art. Multi-faceted and reaching to parts of me that, in many cases, I suppress and work to keep locked away but know I’ve survived as well as she. Worth every penny and second I gave to it. Truly left an imprint on me, reminding me I am what I am even though a majority of my scars are invisible and I am not alone in what I’ve survived. More so, not even about me, Halsey has revealed multiple sides of herself from such a personal and vulnerable place and that moved and rearranged me altogether. Such a public figure and known for never being anything other than herself and not giving in to the hatred I’ve witnessed people sling at her. Just utterly phenomenal. I am recommending everybody read this powerful collection. It comes from a place that is not easy to travel.

Quotables:

At least a small handful of the ones that struck me the most. It was hard to pick only a few to share because it was all striking.

Battles (p. 12)

Been my tongue till it bleeds
cry over things I don't need.
My mother told me
pick your battles wisely
but you made me angry
at the world
so chose them all.
Telltale (p. 59

I think it's for the best
if I should open up my chest
and mail the contents to your hotel room
to wake you while you rest.
Guts (p. 70)

I got this bad habit
where I don't think before I speak.
I fall in love like every week.
I keep a pistol when I sleep
inside my mouth
so I don't fight my tongue
for saying all these things,
like how I saw you in my dreams.
(I really did)
I'm getting bad at it.
So I just numb myself instead.
I'll cut my hair and dye it red,
and hope you get it through your head
that I'm in love
and it's bleeding through my skull,
but I've been hurt before
so I can't tell you
that I
keep this image
in my mind
of you sleeping
late at night.
I count the lashed
one your eyes,
keep my legs
between your thighs.
I could never tell you,
even though I'd like to.

I swear this never happens.
You know I've got a way with words.
I'd put a million in verse,
but still can't bring myself
to face what I feel.
I'm scared of something real.
I should spit it out
and maybe get the guts to tell you.
Fun Girl (p. 86)

I am the fun girl.
I am the spit hanging down from your tongue girl.
I'm the choke me as hard as you can girl.
I'm the give it all up for a man girl.
I'm the plaid skirt and white knee-high socks girl.
I'm a pistol that's loaded and cocked girl.
The don't mind when you call me a slut girl.
I'm the smack her real hard on the butt girl.
I'm a swallow my feelings and lie girl.
I'm a lie there and let him inside girl.
'Cause I don't wanna make him get mad girl.
I'm the better off being bad girl.
'Cause then nothing hurts when they leave. girl.
Except with his grip on your sleeve, girl.
You say yes to the threesomes and drinks girl.
'Cause you still really care what he thinks girl.
You're not boring or mean like his old girl
she was crazy, or that's what you're told, girl.
So you'll get further if you are the fun girl.
But you'll never be the only one girl.
You'll get older and wish you had known girl.
'Cause you gave way too much of your soul, girl.
Now you don't expect men to be kind.
You just use them and leave them behind girl.
It's so hard to grow up as the fun girl.
You'll be trapped in your days as a young girl.
A memory, for men you loved girl.
"Oh! That fund girl!"
Devil In Me (p. 123)

I won't take anyone down
If I crawl tonight
But I still let everyone down
When I change in size
And I went tumbling down
Trying to reach your height
But I scream too loud
If I speak my mind.

More to come soon…                                                                                                

  -K.

Song Today? Hurt (Quiet) by Nine Inch Nails.

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