Poetic Performer: Ranking Halsey’s Poetry Collection


Most people that know me, know that I am a huge Halsey fan. So, I figured, why not combine my two favorite things: Halsey and Poetry? 


But first, here is some background. Her debut album Badlands released in 2015 was her first opportunity and singing and performing. Reflecting on her album she admitted that the concept of the album was a metaphor for her mental state at the time, and that it felt as if "There’s a booming, rotating, never sleeping city in the center of my brain and nobody can come in and I can’t escape.” After the release of her debut album she then went on to produce several other albums. Following Badlands was an EP called Room 93 and then her second album, Hopeless Fountain Kingdom. Halsey found fame in the music industry and branched off in the new direction of writing. At a young age, I resonated with her lyrics and enjoyed her poetics, so I was not surprised when she revealed that she was writing a book. I knew I would enjoy it because her lyrics and storytelling come through in verse and I knew it would be even more beautiful on the page. 


Her book, I Would Leave Me If I Could was released on November 10, 2020 and has since done well in stores. With 132 poems, there is a lot to sift through, so I am simply going to include my top favorites and share some of my favorite lines. 


Keep reading to hone in on Halsey’s heavenly poems: 


1. “Parasite”  

Most of the poems in Halsey’s collection are rather long but this is one of her shorter ones. Within the three stanzas, she plays with the imagery of an invasive parasite entering her brain. Early in the poem, she refers to the parasite as her “muse” (1) and then later gives it the pronoun of “he” (6) alluding to past relationships and inspiration. She describes that “the memories of him open / like sores” (12-13) and multiply in her brain. Halsey ends the poem with the image of “Times New Roman print” (16) flying out of her mouth “like a plague of moths” (17). The ending image describes Halsey’s innate ability to create art (of all forms) out of her past pain. 


2. “I Would Leave Me if I Could”  

Throughout this poem, Halsey reminisces on her past and where she has lived. She writes that she, “can’t remember / what it’s like to smell the ocean” (11-12). Halsey parallels this line later and says, “I can’t remember what it’s like to face a mirror / and not hate the person staring back at me” (15-16). She then reflects on her fame saying, “Please, hold the camera steady” (29) as if to ask for accurate representation. Halsey ends this poem and repeats the phrase “I would leave me if you’d let me” (33) twice and ends with “I would leave me if I could” (34). 


3. “Tornado”  

This is one of the more romantic pieces in her collection. Although it covers a sharp feeling, she does it in such a way that feels soft throughout. Halsey continues with the theme of the title and references thunderstorms and electricity and compares them to her lover. One of my favorite lines is, “I will hold your hand till my fingers are cold / and bluer than a Picasso / till the blood has left them” (29-31). This poem focuses on her loyalty and dedication to her lover and briefly mirrors one of the songs in her 2020 album Manic. In her song "Graveyard" she speaks of the same theme singing “I won’t stop till I get where you are.” Furthering this theme even more, she ends the poem by saying, “I would protect you till the end of time. / I would lie down / in the middle of a tornado / and cover you” (57-60). 


4. “Due Date”  

This poem centers around her premature birth and how the feeling of not being enough began at that moment. She writes that “I’m sure ultimately, / I lay there comparing myself to the other babies. / Wondering if I were as smart as they were” (13-15). Through the following lines, she continues with these same heartbreaking emotions. Halsey ends the poem with a sad confession and states that “It was on my first day on Earth / that I realized I didn’t measure up, / and I never would” (21-23). 


5. “I Met a Mind Reader”  

This poem begins with Halsey discussing the many places she has visited as an artist. Halsey points to the dark and bleak environment around her and describes it as “The upside-down and sleepless dark” (15). Later in the poem, she describes a bus trip and how she “saw a little girl” (23) that frowned at her. Halsey begins to panic because she was once told that “children can sense dread” (26). She then has a tragic thought and asks herself “Has my heart, / once so full of love, / finally drained itself like a yellow raisin?” (29-31). It seems as if Halsey points to the influence of fame as the cause of the shift within her. The little girl then seems to shake her head no as if in response to her question. Halsey then admits that she “met a mind reader. Aged 4 or 5” (37). Referring back to the darkness of the world, she ends the poem with the image of bleakness and a lack of sunlight. 


Halsey began her rise to fame with her musical talents but has quickly proved that there is so much more to her than meets the eye. Her artistic abilities span larger than most musicians and have set the bar high for other artists. If this glance into her poetry book has sparked your interest, then pick up a copy! While you do that, I’ll be reading through her poems and wondering what she could possibly come up with next.