In her sophomore collection, Crybaby, Caitlyn Siehl bears more of herself and, in the process, has written some of her best poems to date. There is a cohesion to this collection, an effortless pace that joins these pieces together and gives them both weight and substance. Heartbreak remains her biggest strength, but it is in the telling of it that Siehl has grown by a good measure. The lack of regret for the pain lends to some carnal, bare pieces. Everything is laid out for display in Crybaby. In “Rumination”, Siehl muses, If love could fit inside you/it would eat you/from the inside out./Hunger eating hunger/until you’re just/a girl again. In title, you would think that this book would be seventy pages of wallowing and pining, but there are no tears to be spent when you’re busy making new romances and reflecting on him fucking you in the back/seat of his car,/your sweaty thighs/sticking to the seats. Indeed, the girl in the poems has a need for contact, for deeper connection, and she keeps searching and searching, but finding only temporary relief. Forget hearts and flowers, this girl daydreams about pleasuring a college professor while he’s talking to her in “Mirrors”. She proclaims Heaven is/a pretty girl in “Heaven”, where heaven is also her body/when it is not/leaving your body/when it is not leaving/at all. She is not immune to the melancholy, though. In “Heavy”, a ride home lends to deeper reflection: You are sadness with bones in it/murky green water sadness./Thick like a body/heavy like a phone call. It is impressive how these poems use so little metaphor, yet hold such vitality and depth. The use of raw emotion and simple comparison is a skill that Siehl has seemingly mastered. This isn’t a book of poems from a lovesick young woman. This is a nuanced, honest and revealing collection from a poet who can unleash a wide range of emotion to pull the reader into her world.
Kendall A. Bell’s poetry has been most recently published in Thick With Conviction and Hobo Camp Review. He was nominated for Sundress Publications’ Best of the Net collection in 2007, 2009, 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2015. He is the author of seventeen chapbooks. His current chapbook is “How To Disappear”. He is the founder and co-editor of the online journal Chantarelle’s Notebook and publisher/editor of Maverick Duck Press. His chapbooks are available through Maverick Duck Press. He lives in Southern New Jersey