I laughed, I cried, I REMEMBERED: ARC Review of I Remember Us by Jaime Dill

I Remember Us

The Short Review

I Remember Us is intensely personal, vulnerable, and relatable. I had really high hopes for this book, and it far surpassed my expectations. This collection of poetry, on the heels of Amanda Gorman’s Inaugural Poem, has ignited in me not only a desire to READ poetry (I Remember Us is the first book of poetry I’ve successfully read cover-to-cover–and intend to reread), but also to WRITE it. The writing is magnificent, the story is unique to the author and her husband and yet universal; I see myself in these pages. I laughed, I cried, and I REMEMBERED. We see the young couple fall in love—that part’s easy, and fun, full of nostalgia. But then they hit the real world—money problems, unintended pregnancy, heartbreaking loss, fighting with each other—and they overcome. Jaime Dill shows us the beauty of growing and changing together, of loving each other through the changes. This book is a celebration of love, of how love triumphs. Ultimately, I did more than remember the past: I remembered the NOW, I remembered how unbelievably blessed I am to be in a marriage like the one reflected in the pages of I Remember Us.

Some extra commentary

I was fortunate to receive a free copy of this book via Booksprout, and the above paragraph is the review I left on Booksprout and Goodreads and will pop up on Amazon once it’s out. NOW, I need to gush a little more and tell you where to find Jaime and all the great things she’s been up to in addition to writing a fantastic book.

First – this book is SO GOOD that I asked for a paperback copy for my birthday (WHICH IS TODAY), even though I’ve already read it. I’m only sorry I didn’t think to ask for a signed copy… and I rarely reread books. That said, I reread about half of it the other day when I sat down to write my review so I’d say it’ll be nice to have a paper copy! Pre-order your copy here!

Second – Jaime is not only a gifted writer, but she’s a super sweet person and very giving of her time. I’m working my way through some feedback she gave me on some poems I wrote recently and I’m just so touched she took the time to give me such thorough, prodding feedback. Which brings me to…

Third – She’s a developmental editor and book coach! And if her feedback on my amateur poetry is any indication, Jaime is worth every penny! Check out her editing company, Polish and Pitch, for information on how to work with her and more!

Finally – Jaime is also Editor-in-Chief of her own publishing imprint, Cardigan Press. They’re releasing their first publication, an anthology for and by writers, later this year. I can’t wait to see what they do next!

Frivolity, or necessary self-expression?

This morning I woke up wanting to write. POETRY, of all things.

This morning I woke up NEEDING to homeschool and parent four children, three of whom have colds (as do I).

The contrast between those two things felt enormous, even insurmountable.

A few days ago I received a birthday gift in the mail: a poem I wrote in March, printed on glass and framed, with a note from my best friend that reads: “Happy birthday, Kristin!!! I wanted you to have a visual reminder of how gifted you are with words.” Best part: she ordered it BEFORE I published that whole Am I a writer? post. Talk about being thoughtful!

The Gift

So, when I woke up feeling ridiculous for wanting to write poetry in the face of all of my daily responsibilities, I remembered this gift. More than reminding me that I am gifted with words (which I’m not yet convinced of), it reminded me that I have people who believe in me, who support me in this new writing endeavor – that the endeavor itself is worthy. I’ve been trying to be more expressive, so I tried to explain to her what the gift means to me, and referred to writing poetry as impractical. What I actually said was: “poetry, of all the random impractical things.”

Of all the random, impractical things.

She shut that down right away, with these beautiful words:

“Poetry is not impractical. Self expression is freeing and comforting and good.”

It’s a total paradigm shift. What I saw as frivolous, she framed as freeing, comforting, and good. Which, really, means it’s necessary. Now, I’m not saying poetry itself is necessary – but just like all forms of art, it is a vehicle for self-expression and that is necessary. Often supremely uncomfortable, but necessary. It reminded me of the few times I’ve done art therapy – the process of putting my feelings into the art allowed me to explore and understand those feelings in a tangible way, and was definitely more important than the finished product. Could I look at poetry the same way? Some Twitter friends had similar things to say – embrace the desire to write, write without worrying about whether it’s good or not, give myself the space. I’ve just never before sought to understand and express myself through writing poems. Just like with a paintbrush, I feel awkward, uncomfortable, like an amateur. But sometimes amateurs are quite good actually, and even if what I write now is garbage I’ll undoubtedly get better the more I do it. I’ll get more comfortable with the process, and inevitable be happier with the product.

So is writing poems the newest addition to my self-care repertoire? Is it frivolous to write poetry while my husband plays Risk with the kids downstairs, or is it a necessary form of self-exploration and self-expression that will enable me to be more in tune with myself and therefore a healthier, happier person, wife, and mother? I think it might be the latter, though the idea might take some getting used to.

Revisiting that poetic genius…

My coauthor tells me I shared an incorrect version of our poem, so I’m here to set the record straight. The shining example of my poetic genius was actually written as follows:

Bub the Baby

If you ever meet a baby

who cries really loud

then, just maybe,

you’ll be allowed

to pick him up high,

right up to the sky,

then drop him in the tub

and name him Bub.

I’ll keep my eyes peeled for the accolades I am about to receive.

PS – I am adding this because it came up with a reader: I wrote this poem when I was ten or eleven, NOT in any way postpartum. I am not exploring taboo subjects, and no actual babies were dropped. Eek.