Bloodhound: A Poetry Collection, by Marie Casey. A review.

My relationship with Twitter is unremarkable. I participate, look around, hope that there’s some meaningful interaction out there. I’m definitely not a popular Twitter kid. It reminds me of high school. Yeah, I was a high school loser. Not invited to anything. Ignored for the most part. So, Twitter seems familiar to me – even comforting, because in Twitter, just like in high school, I’m loser. But the other thing about me, and the thing that also seems comfortable about Twitter, is that it doesn’t matter to me insofar as getting to where I want to get (published author). I’ll get there anyway. I just will. The high school loser already ended up with an incredibly wonderful family, a mind-bendingly successful career, and many wonderful friends. I didn’t need to be popular in the cool circles to do that. I did it anyway. And I will do it again. And I will never forget the people in this virtual world that helped me do that.

Much of Twitter is endless self-promotion, and that’s fine. But it’s also a place to find voices. When we talk about writing, we talk about voice, and that’s a real thing. Voice matters. It’s the timbre that separates you from other people, and stamps you. It’s your brand. You don’t have to love a voice to recognize a voice. But you’ll almost always hear it. Marie Casey wrote a book called ‘BloodHound’, a poetry collection, that is choked with voice. This 80-page book has an undeniability about it that both resonates and makes you realize how deep some people look into human souls – including their own.

There are six narrative sections to the book, The Beginning through Exorcism, interspersed with poetry. Deeply personal, the narrative sections tell a story about the author. It’s unrelenting and visceral, and scary. I, in my life, have never articulated the personal in such stark terms, or really had the courage to do so. Courage is everything in writing – how far you’re willing to go. What you’re willing to reveal as you snake through life, you as the bloodhound, or the bloodhound the thing at your heels. In my mind, this book has the courage of conviction, and is the best way to make the point – this is not writing for the sake of some commercial vision, this is writing true to the author. It’s real. It’s like Lana Del Rey before she was Lana Del Rey. 

The poetry in-between the narrative sections is big. One of my favorites:

“I took a trip to space

To see the stardust.

Charmed,

How the elements 

Harmonized with mine.”

But the poetry in-between is also visceral:

“I have these moments

Where I want to tear off heads,

Bathe in blood,

Exfoliate my skin,

For, I’ve been triggered,

And it accentuates all the hatred

Festering inside my claws.”

I have several pages dog-eared. Terrible thing to do to a book. But there are passages worth revisiting. 

There’s anger here. Maybe even rage (my personal favorite reaction to the world). There’s a descent into the truly terrible, and you can feel the author’s spiral. But there’s also endless wrath in the words suggesting that that spiral can only end up in one place – reawakening. Exorcism. I don’t think anyone who can write like this could ever be held down. The words themselves speak to not being ignored. They speak to voice. I felt chilled through this thing, because I don’t have the courage to do this, and I greatly respect that the author laid herself bare in this way. If this is an admission of a trip through trauma, it’s also by its very existence a roadmap to some dark, fiery other side. Hardship that beats you doesn’t have this kind of voice.

In many ways, this is such a big journey in so few words. A novel that bled out of a monstrous creature, its essences reduced to a puddle in which witches drink their potions. That’s a neat trick. Would that we could all get to the point in such a deeply personal and immediate way. Unflinching, this book deserves a second and a third read, with the lights down, a stiff drink in hand, and the wind blowing cold and awful through your bones.

If I were a real book critic, I’d pair up books with alcohol. The Count of Monte Cristo, for example, is Macallan. Salman Rushdie is very expensive red wine. Marie Casey? I don’t really know. I think I might have to invent a shot. Vodka and something stronger than vodka… over ice. Something that bites you on the way down and goes right to your head, rips the world apart and lays you bare. Because as much as I love books, I also like a good drink…

Here’s what I would like to see from Marie Casey. This book is so personal that it’s like a self-reflection. It’s a much needed self-reflection, to be sure. It feels like something that absolutely had to be written, and written in this way. But I ask: are you now exorcised? And if so, what do you have next? When someone writes something deeply personal like this, do they go to that admittedly-deep well again and tell another aspect of this narrative? Or is all that rage and anger able to muster itself up and spit out a new story, perhaps something that’s not even about you? What else do you got? Because the mad talent is there to tell shattering stories, and there are so many stories to tell, including the ones that are not about us. The same timbre, the wrath, the rage – imagine that voice focused on a new story. What is that story? I’m dying to know.

I feel like this book is the birth of an author that has an unflinching viewpoint, and voice. To be honest, I don’t need to hear this story in this way again. Bloodhound is out there, and it’s been told – and it’s been told well. In an undeniable fashion. There’s only one question that remains in the wake of this thing, as it sits dog-earred and remembered, flipped through and investigated, wondered over, even envied. Only one question that this book really leads to, the journey laid out in bloody, sparse words.

What’s next? 

Dream hard, rage hard.

16 thoughts on “Bloodhound: A Poetry Collection, by Marie Casey. A review.

  1. I feel the need to address a few points here, my friend.
    1. No losers here. Twitter is an unremarkable forum. You can make of it what you will. I am even more a loser when it comes to that as all I ever do is share blogging posts, mine and others, and Instagram images. And when I do, see that someone like you or Crispina have said something and tag along 😉
    2. How can you not call yourself a real book critic? Every one you have written has enticed me to want to (or not) read the book! Like this one.
    3. Your writing is outstanding here. Your insights and your impressions and understandings are wonderful to read.
    4. I think it is a fantastic sign of how much a book means to you by the beating it takes from you going back to it again and again. There are two kinds of readers: those who want to leave their books in pristine condition and those who will underline and highlight and write in the margins – actually, I read a fabulous book about a man who collects such books.
    Wonderful critique. And like you, I wonder, what is next?

    1. Totally appreciate that, Dale. I take reviewing someone’s book very seriously – I know how much it takes to write a book, so it’s an intense business. Got to get it right. Really glad that my reviews make you think about reading the books, too.

      As for Twitter, it’s a crazy place. I feel very unremarkable there, I kind of wish there were more interaction but it seems largely transactional. Kinda too bad, that.

      1. It shows you take it seriously. And you did it in such a wonderful way.

        Twitter… meh. I have so much trouble following a conversation on that one!

  2. As a rule, I tend to ignore most things to do with poetry. It’s something that evolved over time with me and now seems to be who I am. However, reading what you wrote about this particular author, I can match it up perfectly to someone I know and love. So Mr. “I am not a book critic” you have accomplished something most wouldn’t . You have caught my interest enough in this book to make sure someone reads it.
    Also, for the record, anyone who has fangirls like Elyse and myself is not a loser. End of story.

    1. I have fangirls??? That’s awesome! Glad you had a look at the review and are interested in checking out the author. She’s really good, and only going to get better.

  3. Funny you should mention Vodka….I was thinking the appropriate dram for this would be Black Death Vodka. Sounds like the perfect match.
    Have you seen Nine Dead Gay Guys? You must.

    And I LOVE the idea of pairing books and booze. We should do that. Maybe guest blog-post-bomb each other?

    And btw, I done Twitterfied myself. Gods help me.

    I am now certainly intrigued by this book. The cover alone had me—-WAIT! You dog-ear BOOKS?!?!?

    This is something we CANNOT FORGIVE!

    I am DONE WITH YOU, Trent Lewin.

    (jk. just trying out some Tweet-Stylings….but not jk about the dog-earing thing. Really man. That’s UNFORGIVABLE!)

    1. Dude dude! Tell me your handle! I’m at @trent_lewin. I kind of like Twitter, though I’m really unpopular. But if not for that, I wouldn’t have come across Marie. And yeah, I dog-ear when I know I have to come back to something, and this book had me doing it a few times. Forgive me!

      Drink with books… we should totally do that. Although the way I drink, I’d be a soppy mess inside a chapter!

      1. @gravityprayer and @mnemosignmusic
        I found you already.

        Yup. Just like high school.

        Booz-N-Books. yeah…..I feel ya. A dear friend dropped me off three little samples from his precious Single Malt Stash a couple weeks ago. Lagavulin 16, Glenmorangie Sherry Cask and Ardbeg 10. I TRIED to savor them. Really. I did. They were gone in two days. I just savored them quickly.
        Problem is my off button doesn’t really work too well. Big reason why i’ve been laying off the stuff during my time at home. I just enjoy being buzzed a *little* too much. Never get really sloshed but also just kinda end up drinking all day and night if you let me. And I let me…….Ah, well. All things in moderation. Including moderation!

        1. Yeah I hear you there. I don’t drink except on the weekends, and then two days at most. And in moderation. It’s too easy to get sucked in when you’ve got nothing to do elsewhere. No other diversions. I love lagavulin, by the way, and glenmorangie. Also partial to Macallan. You have awesome taste, sir.

          I found your twitter handles and am following along! Let’s do this!

          1. The Macallan 18 is THE benchmark of Highland whiskies IMHO. Must be those sherry casks…..oh,,,,,man…..
            And Lagavulin? Yeah. Pretty much the shit as far as I’m concerned. Takes one to know one, my good sir!

  4. “Courage is everything in writing – how far you’re willing to go.” Well said, this is such a simple and true statement. Writing is just that; lending your body and senses to someone else for a while, and diving to the core of your own self to make the experience authentic and truthful. It takes courage – and vulnerability – to do that. I’m intrigued by this book. It’s on my reading list!

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