On November 10, 2020, singer-songwriter Halsey released her first collection of poetry entitled I Would Leave Me If I Could. I have been a fan of hers for years, and it feels like I grew up through high school with her music by my side. Halsey is such an inspiration to me because of her self-made rise–from being a homeless teenager to achieving stardom in the music industry. She always amazes me with her artistic and poetic talent, and this work is no exception. I will admit that I don’t sit down to read poetry books very often, although I do enjoy poems from time to time–but her collection truly struck me. Her writing is intensely heart-wrenching and raw, in a different way than in her songs. I have always found her music to be emotional and comforting because of how relatable it is, but her poetry is personal and eye-opening on another level. She writes so sweetly about love and those that she admires, and she touches upon the difficulties of being in the public eye. She also describes traumatic experiences from her childhood and adult life, ranging from miscarriage to sexual assault. She manages to weave all of these aspects of her life into an intensely emotional book, and I admire how open she is about herself. Even if I cannot personally relate to many of her experiences, she perfectly conveys the universality of human sentiments. Halsey is also very open about her struggles with bipolar disorder. The cover art of her anthology is one of her paintings, which represents her manic feelings. In a recent interview, she said, “I don’t always want to talk about how strong I am. Sometimes I want to talk about how weak I am…it’s not always about what I’ve overcome, it’s about what I’m still trying to overcome.” She shares her story to normalize talking about mental health issues realistically, and I think her book greatly adds to this.
I highly recommend her collection of poetry, especially if you are interested in a thought provoking portrait of a famous singer–although her fame does not protect her from real sadness and trauma. (That being said, her writing may be triggering for some in terms of descriptions of abuse, explicit sexual imagery, and drugs.) Her writing is so real, and I think this is something that is rare in the world of famous people that we “stan”. In this book, and honestly all of Halsey’s creative work, she is not asking us to follow and idolize her–she is just inviting us to relate to her lyrics and lines. She always says that she wants us to feel less lonely and find connection with others through her art, and her poetry accomplishes just that. The title of her book, I Would Leave Me If I Could, is so interesting to me because it seems that through it all, she still wouldn’t want to leave us, her readers, alone. I can’t wait to see what Halsey does next–in the meantime, check out her book here.