Book Review

Baby, I Don't Care by Chelsey Minnis

great book of pomes

This was fucking brilliant.

A Christmas present from my lover, Baby, I Don’t Care is 2018 poetry collection by Chelsey Minnis, published by Seattle indie press, Wave Books.

It’s a beautiful book as physical object: weighty and thick papered, and it contains almost 300 pages of brief, unpretentious, witty, sharp and fucking hilarious poetry.

There’s probably a secondary level of this that I failed to notice, but to the casual reader (which I am1), Baby, I Don’t Care is a gorgeous, witty, luscious revelation of a book, filled with glamour and lust and hunger and avarice and envy and sloth and wrath and all the other fucking sins, too, all the good things, all that is life.2

The rest of this is a collage of lines from the book.

I’m tired. Soul tired. Properly fucking tired and properly fucking-

Minnis:

I’m the type of person to lose an emerald ring.
I might drop it in my champagne and drink it.
How can I be such a swine?
Oh, darling. I hate to be thirsty.

[…]

You shouldn’t be allowed to run around with me.
I’ll only give you a good time.

[…]

I’ve always wanted to be the daughter of a wealthy communist.

[…]

I love to go to bed sober, which means I have to start drinking early.

[…]

Let’s wear satin robes and be unreliable.

[…]

I’m trying to squander my sex appeal, but it’s terribly hard.

[…]

Try not to talk when you’re sober, darling.

[…]

I know I’m a bad woman.
I think you’ll find it to our mutual benefit.

[…]

The word for what I want is “money.”

[…]

I never win an argument, but there are other things in life.

[…]

Maybe I wish the past never happened.

[…]

I miss your boring, dominant lectures.
Do you miss my hatefulness?
A bad time was had by all.

[…]

In order to be happy I have to sacrifice my misery.

[…]

I’m sorry I slept with your brother, but I simply had to.

[…]

It’s easier to write this than to write nothing.

Yes, I agree. It is easier to write something, anything, nothing of substance, nothing of value, than it is to write nothing at all.

This collection of funny but melancholic expressions of joy and pain, glamorousness and loneliness, sex and cruelty, drunkenness and addiction… it’s brilliant, it’s beautiful, I loved it.

OK.

ORDER BABY, I DON’T CARE DIRECT FROM WAVE BOOKS HERE


1. No, I’m not.

I recently found a blog review of the Forward Book of Poetry 2020 that singled me out as the writer of the “inevitable” poem that “anyone could have written”, which I kinda enjoyed.

Yes, it is absurd that my tweet-length kinda joke poem was included in this year’s edition of [arguably] the most significant annual anthology of British poetry, but it’s a poem about poetry, which is the kinda thing that readers and critics of poetry – and poets – like, right?

I’m too harsh on myself, my therapists would probably tell me: even Lewis Parker (who’s kinda like my opposite/the one-time devil on my shoulder to Sean Preston’s eternal shoulder angel) gave me a [deeply begrudging] positive review.

As I like to rap: I AM a poet.

I’m allowed to like the poetry I like.

I’ve never read Rupi Kaur for the same reason I’ve never watched Mrs Brown’s Boys: I’m terrified that I might absolutely love it. I’m self depreciating because I’m seriously and long term depressed. If I don’t sort myself out (or start lying to the doctors) then I’ll likely end up on anti-psychotics and/or on a short term hospital stay, both of which sound terrifying but, alas, maybe necessary. 

My life feels like it’s paused at the moment. Nothing really happened to me in 2019, I feel.

Obviously, there are the things I mentioned in my post on Dec 31st, but none of those – chapbook, Forward Prize commendation, gaining full time, appropriate employment for the first time since the Summer of 2016, making that “hilarious” Because Earth Is Flat book with Sean Preston – none of these things feel very real.

If I started taking anti-psychotic medication and was suddenly filled with optimism and energy, what would I do differently?

I already work 60ish hours a week, exercise regularly, keep my dog healthy, read a lot, maintain this blog and continue to submit poetry and prose to lit mags I think are appropriate.

Like, I mean this, deadly serious? What would be different?

Everything the same, but I’d go to parties and get wasted with new friends? I can’t see having a social life of the kind I used to have achieving anything except getting myself some new regrets and stalling on my plans to get my debts (incurred from that botched attempt to live on a houseboat) paid off by the end of the year? 

I don’t see what the benefit of not being depressed would be, as I can’t see myself using the benefits of not being depressed to do anything except create new REASONS to be depressed. 

Lol, classic.

2. This isn’t my life, though, that’s what it feels like. I’m already on a lot of meds and they want to put me on more and stronger: I still cry at sad movies (e.g. Little Women: beautiful, hilarious, go see it) but I don’t really feel any joy and the things that do make me feel joy that I still allow myself are pretty tame fucking pleasures.

I’m hardly ever boozing these days – by my standards, though that’s probably still loads more than most people, but far less than some.

I go to the doctors and the therapists and I exercise and I don’t party and I drink in [relative] moderation like a good fuckin boy, but still, with all this, whenever I don’t distract myself with something, anything, I start having panic attacks and trying to crawl into the fucking walls hoping to disappear until I feel fucking better.

I did some self harm last week and now whenever I look at the scabbed lines on my arm (like a fucking try-hard teenager) I grin grin grin to myself.

Where did the joy, the pleasure, come from?

Knowing I could do something to injure myself?

Or was I bullying myself, laughing at my fucking pisspoor, juvenile, bullshit attempts at destructive behaviour, mocking the fact that I’m 31 years old and I haven’t had a clear-headed, introspective moment for as long as I can remember where I didn’t feel like my life has no worth: I feel like that and feel like I’ve always felt like that, but even within that I just can’t fucking bring myself to hurt properly and decisively and finally.

Back to the Poetry.


Download my weird live album via Bandcamp.

Order my raucous poetry collection via Open Pen.

Order my sad prose chapbook via Selcouth Station Press.


Personalised Micro-Review

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1 comment on “Baby, I Don't Care by Chelsey Minnis

  1. Pingback: NDN Coping Mechanisms by Billy-Ray Belcourt – Triumph Of The Now

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