cover image Bad Hobby

Bad Hobby

Kathy Fagan. Milkweed, $16 trade paper (112p) ISBN 978-1-57131-545-8

In this wide-ranging sixth collection, Fagan (Sycamore) explores class, caregiving, and daughterhood. Feeling permeates these pages as she writes through the “specific loneliness of children/ we carry with us no matter where we go.” The poems are characterized by empathy as they explore the complexity of trying to live and love when some days it feels “perilous to be seen,” and others, “perilous not to be.” She captures humanity’s contradictions, writing that she “caught beauty/ Like a flu.” That duality is evident in her imagery: “We girls saved our cigarette ashes to fade our Levi’s with.” It is also present in highly personal and tender turns of phrase: “living is more/ —I was going to say, more difficult,/ but more alone will do.” In these moments of complexity and contradiction, Fagan leans into descriptions of the world that pay tribute to what it is, not what it could or might be. “How will I choose,” she writes, “between Heaven & Sorry.” This vibrant book resides in that in-between, honoring the loss that comes with love. (Sept.)