She Used to Be on a Milk Carton- Kailey Tedesco

About this book: she used to be on a milk carton

Between body and spirit, place and soul, love and trauma, and logic and magic, Kailey Tedesco finds herself between two worlds in this stunning collection of debut poetry. Treading the line between the dual nature of our human spirit, this collection brings to light what our physical, and then spiritual, selves’ place is in the cosmos and the realm beyond our immediate sight.

Through images of Catholicism, heavenly bodies, caul births, dark magic, serpents, and God, Tedesco challenges what it means to be Woman in a world so clouded by opposing truths, illuminating herself and elevating our human experience.

Release Date: 30th March, 2018.


What I think?

I find it quite difficult to review and rate a poetry book, even though I read more poems in a day than should be legally allowed because #OMGilovepoetry! But saying that, I tend to not say much about it because each poem, no matter the author, has the capability to sound/read/feel different at different times of the day.

And so I read this book at night- under covers, when the city was still buzzing, but my room begged to fall asleep. Creating that atmosphere you know.

Anyways, on to more about this book..

This book focused a lot on gothic imagery to portray and deliver the message, which I approve. It’s honestly become so difficult to find a well written gothic poem.

To think about it, the title “She used to be on a Milk Carton” is pretty indicative that the speaker feels lost, and the first couple poems depict that emotions perfectly, but then things just.. get out of control. One of the biggest criticisms I have is that the beginning of the book has very poorly constructed pieces. Especially when you compare them to the ones that come at the end of the book. Those were beautiful, I have to say. And one of my favorite poems was the one the book was named after: She Used to be on a Milk Carton. The intricacy and delicacy Kailey showed in that poem was simply beautiful, and I wished there were more pieces like that.

It was a huge turning point in the book after that poem, and it seemed like all the poems after that just found their bearings and fell straight into a beautiful motley of dark and enchanting imagery. And that brings me to the imagery of this book-

Like I said, this book relies heavily on gothic images, but at the same time, it also uses the female body to deconstruct the society and the way it views a woman. Because when we first meet the speaker, she’s already at a low point, we don’t get to see her devolve into that state of mental being, which I think would’ve been excellent. Because while we understand that the author feels lost and helpless, we don’t get to see how she got to that point. And so, there’s a disconnect.

I gave this book a 3 1/2 stars, not because it was a bad book, but because it was a book that could’ve been better. Would I read Kailey again? Definitely. She’s a really good poetess, and I strongly felt like by adding those half-baked poems in the beginning, she just lowered the impact all her later poems could’ve had on the reader from the get go, because those were beautiful enough to deserve an applause-

Because I had goosebumps.

I was wrapped with a caul— a stillbirth still breathing
You chewed the feathers
off me & bit down.


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About this poet:

Kailey Tedesco grew up near the Pine Barrens in New Jersey, but she has spent her adult years living in various parts of Pennsylvania.  In 2016, she received her MFA in creative Writing from Arcadia University where she graduated with distinguished honors as a member of the selective Alpha Epsilon Lambda honors society. She’s an enthusiastic and passionate individual who knows a lot of a ghost stories.

She is the author of two poetry books, She Used to be on a Milk Carton and These Ghosts of Mine, Siamese. Her poetry and essays all tend to focus on occult themes, witchcraft, gothic imagery, Catholicism, girlhood, kitsch, and confessional writings. She is most consistently inspired by David Lynch, Shirley Jackson, and the Lizzie Borden trials. She has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize, and her work has been written about in publications such as New Pages, Beach Sloth, and others.



4 thoughts on “She Used to Be on a Milk Carton- Kailey Tedesco

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