Poet portrays the perils of puberty

Courtesy of  Kayleb Candrilli and Jackie Papanier
by: Zac Soper, Columnist


Aspiring to be a more well-read individual, I dove into poetry this summer. One collection that particularly stood out was “What Runs Over” by Kayleb Rae Candrilli. This collection is about Kayleb going through the perils of puberty while living isolated in the mountains with their sister, mother, and abusive father. “Hunger is all the woods left in me,” Candrilli writes as they tell the reader of their journey of self-discovery through personal experience. 

The feral attitude in which Candrilli expressed their sexuality was a motif that stretched across all pages of the collection and was key in providing graphic imagery for the reader. When reading poetry, I find myself blurring similar poems together regardless of the author. Candrilli’s collection, however, stands very distinct in my mind. I could pull out their poems from a pile simply by the truth in their words. Sure, there are countless other poems about discovering one’s sexuality or about growing up in an abusive family, for these musings call forth emotions that any writer would be foolish to ignore, but Candrilli’s story is not unique in subject manner, but in personal experience. There are no blanket statements of trouble or endless lines about “feeling confused,” Candrilli has filed their experiences down to raw responses, and catalogued these responses in end-lines and enjambments. 

This raw response is captured perfectly by GoodReads reviewer, Rachel, who commented, “once you see that world through the eyes of the main character, you need to escape it as desperately they did.” The desperate tone is one of the most appealing aspects of this collection. At its core, poetry is about emotion. 

Keats and Coleridge wrote about feelings evoked by nature, Robert Frost wrote about the feelings of everyday choices, and now, Candrilli writes about feelings of desperation in a harsh environment. All poets can write about experience, it is when emotion is diffused from the writer to the reader that true poetry is achieved. 

A factor that lead to my five-star rating were the sections that lead me to put the book down. These sections were not poorly written, or cliché in any manner. In fact, they were so well written that the graphic descriptions got to be overwhelming. To be able to perfectly place yourself in the poet’s shoes is a tell that the piece is well written. After being moved so heavily by this collection and especially these graphic sections, I had nothing bad to say about this collection. A strong sense of voice and a strong narrative wrapped in relentless, unguarded diction made Candrilli stand out from the pool of poets I read this summer. 


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