By Rebecca Hare, Gustavus Adolphus College alumna (2014)
A wide-ranging slate of interesting and timely topics are beautifully strung together in this book. Each poem feels fresh, like popping a lid off a new jar of jam. One thing that surprised me was the accessibility of religious themes throughout Part IV. As an atheist, I typically don’t resonate with these topics, but Caitlin offers a personal window into faith and philosophy that illuminates rather than alienates. A fun read and happy to say I came away from reading it with a long list of favorites!
Of Uneven Lanes
By Rebecca Fremo, author of Moving This Body
Buxbaum’s collection opens with “Mothers,” a provocative poem that captures a moment when the speaker overhears a parent “discipline their child / the wrong way.” Buxbaum won’t describe how that moment looks or sounds, leaving readers to fill in the blanks with their own imagined scenarios: perhaps the overindulgent among us might hear the sharp bark of impatience, while those who refuse to spare the rod might envision unruly children bribed into submission with candy. Reserving judgment, the speaker offers us an incantation: “let our fears not keep us / from becoming the mothers / we ought / or ought not / to be.”
The poems in Uneven Lanes nudge us to see the world in all its complexity, using everyday images — spumoni, for instance — to remind us that what we see or hear might be interpreted in multiple ways. Thus “a garish-looking flavor” of ice-cream “sounds more awful / and bewildering / than it tastes” and even “bad news about a pet dog” can help “make for an exceptional day / in an ordinary week.” Each of Buxbaum’s poems require — gently — that readers seek more than one way to experience their lives. In one of the loveliest poems in the collection, “what if instead,” the speaker suggests that we seek out what is most beautiful and loving in our lives, so that “with each line,” as she imagines in “10-4,” we might also practice “speaking a universal tongue: / Love.”
The inclusion of several photographs taken by the author punctuates this generous and affirming message. In particular, the cover photo, which depicts the crumpled, yet strangely beautiful snow-covered Vine Road taken just shortly after an earthquake in her home state of Alaska, helps us see how beauty might always push itself upward into view.
By Dave S. Koster, author of Wine Bottles and Broomsticks
I’m a sucker for the description of love and life as slightly messy, but still agreeable and romantic in spite of it all. To me, this collection of poems captures that sentiment. The poem in this collection that nails it is ‘what if instead.’ It speaks pure truth to daily married life, the difficulties, and why we cherish it anyhow. This book is worth reading through multiple times.
Of Songs from the Underground
By Der Vang, Gustavus alumna (2014)
“Simply genius! [Buxbaum] executes so many different poetic techniques; every poem is unique and refreshingly well-written. So many different emotions are displayed in each poem…it really makes [the reader] wonder what she has gone through to write such masterpieces. I loved it!”
By Emmie Belpedio, Gustavus alumna (2014)
“[Buxbaum’s] poems are invigorating to the reader…. [Songs from the Underground is] perfectly begun and perfectly ended.”