Hi, everyone! I’m back with a book review, since I recently realized that I haven’t posted one in practically FOREVER. To tell the truth, I have very little time to read for fun anymore, but hopefully I’ll have some time this summer after the current semester ends! Gotta catch up on all my reading challenges.
Anyway, today I’ll be reviewing Instructions For Flight, a debut poetry collection published this winter by young author Kate I. Foley! It’s her birthday today, actually, so what better time to post this? Happy seventeenth, Kate! And happy National Poetry Month, too.
FULL DISCLOSURE: I received a free PDF of this ebook in exchange for an honest review. I should also add that Kate is one of my good online friends. (We “met” about 4.5 years ago and I think of her like a little sister!) So, I’m definitely biased when it comes to supporting Kate-as-a-writer, but I’ll do my best to be an impartial reviewer of this collection!
I decided to organize this review according to the sections of this book, with thoughts about each and every poem listed according to the order in which they appeared in the collection.
Short and Sweet
“3 O’Clock Coffee” (4/5)
Definitely my favorite poem from this section! It made me envision a very calm, quiet, kind moment between two people – friends, lovers, a parent and child, et cetera. It’s so short but it says so much!
“The Simplest Thing” (3.5/5)
Short and sweet! This haiku was super fun to read because it practiced what it preached: The poem talked about keeping things we say brief and was itself brief.
“What Can’t Be Seen” (3/5)
Loved the imagery here! I also enjoyed how this poem sets up a relationship using so few words. It really told me a lot about the characters in a handful of lines.
“Blood on the Pavement” (4.5/5)
From the very beginning lines, I was utterly drawn in: “There’s blood on the pavement. / There’s blood on the pavement and a smoking gun / And everyone’s telling them to run…” LOVE those lines. I actually can’t get them out of my head!
Further into the poem, there are two lines where Kate plays with the double meaning of the word “arms,” which I thought was brilliant. I had to read this poem several times because I enjoyed it so much.
“Dear Dr. King” (4/5)
Kate posted this poem on her blog several years ago, so I’d read it before and was delighted to find it in this collection! I’m always interested in reading works that contextualize a famous person, place, or thing in terms of an ordinary person’s experience – in this case, Kate’s thoughts while visiting MLK’s house. It’s all the more impressive because she wrote it in her early teens!
“Life Today” (4/5)
I have to admit, I wasn’t too taken with the form in which this piece was written – I think it could have just as easily, and perhaps more effectively told through a vignette-y short story or essay – but I think its subject of addiction to technology is really important to talk about!
Written at Writer’s Camp
“Instructions For Flight” (3/5)
I wanted this to be my favorite poem, obviously, since this is where the title of the collection was taken from! Don’t get me wrong, I loved this poem – ESPECIALLY the first three stanzas. Amazing imagery, reassuring message, and so on and so forth. It’s great, but was definitely outshone by several other poems, particularly those in the same section as it… which I’ll get to in just a sec.
(I’m glad that this is the title of the collection, though, because I can’t imagine which of the other poem titles would work nearly so well as this one.)
“Stage Fright” (5/5)
I FREAKING LOVE THIS POEM OK. The pacing, the descriptions, the emotions that come through. Kate, I don’t know if you have any interest at all in spoken-word poetry, but I can TOTALLY see this working as a performance. The fact that this poem is about being nervous before/during a performance would just make it even better, since it would become a sly joke with the audience while you acknowledge how you feel in that moment.
“Why Do We Write?” (3.5/5)
I’m such a sucker for stories about why people love writing! I don’t think I’ve ever attempted to talk about that through a poem, though, so it was super interesting to see how someone might approach that.
“Love Poem to Breathing” (4/5)
I don’t know if it was intentional, but I love how the rhythmic nature of this poem mirrors the rhythmic sound of a heartbeat… if that makes any sense. (Does it?) Like, something about when and how the verbs are repeated reminded me of that. It was great.
“To Beautiful Disasters” (4.5/5)
Not sure what was the inspiration for this poem, but I read it through the lens of mental health. There were a lot of really creative, unexpected comparisons and rhymes that made me smile as I read them because I wished I’d thought to write something like this.
“To People Who Smile at Strangers” (4/5)
This poem made me smile! My biggest takeaway from this one was that I’m so glad it came at the very end because I think it leaves the reader in a lovely frame of mind. Or at least that’s how I felt at the end of this collection.
All in all, I was really impressed with the quality of Kate’s work in Instructions For Flight! With poems about such a variety of subjects, everyone is sure to find something to love. I look forward to reading whatever Kate I. Foley publishes in the future!