Sway This Way: Homing by Katie Ailes |Review

Review by Jade Mitchell

Katie Ailes’ Homing is a transition between the borders of the homes we create for ourselves – whether they be stemmed from childhood or ones we find along the way as our lives begin to take shape.

“and I wondered in the screaming ambulance

how we were so fleshy, so breakable,

whether we really were once made of light

and had bruised ourselves into bodies.”

At first, she focuses on her childhood roots of America. Poems such as ‘Watermelons’ and ‘Farm Hand’ are vivid, her imagery painting across the pages as her childhood comes to life through her background scenery of Pennsylvania, and her summers spent there.

“Cricket-loud nights ignored

windowpanes, let themselves in

while fireflies winked the yard bright.”

Katie also paints poignancy within the poem “Lightning”. This personal piece highlights Katie’s relationship with the man who raised her, with snapshots of the memories they have shared together, highlighting the bond shared between father and daughter, and how it grows through the years.

“When he first told me

I was not his daughter,

he held me together

with soft words:

I have always believed in nurture

over nature, love.

You are mine, in that.”

Katie then transitions from America to the United Kingdom. From England, she pens “Christmas Day, Regent’s Park” in which she captures a sense of homesickness and isolation. We see the stark contrast between the greying, bland Christmas morning experienced in London, and the Christmas morning that Katie envisions for a loved one back home in Maine.

“Hear his exhales, feel my tiny lungs

match his. We make a rhythm of small clouds.

The rain begins.”

From Scotland, the political roots that had taken ahold of the country in 2014 are clearly evident. She captures the electricity of the evening of the Independence Referendum, this new-found feeling of excitement and hope as the night grows on in anticipation of the result.

“Young Americans in an old land,

we were heady with democracy,

claimed to feel ancient rebellions

rising in our blood: a kindred fighting

freedom. We were giddy with history

and blind with future.”

Within the final poem within the collection Homing, reality blurs with memory. Katie reminiscences her summer days in Jersey with her family, the nostalgia rising through each stanza like a tidal wave. Highlighting the significance place her home holds within her heart, this poem highlights that no matter how far away you are from home, it will always exists within your soul.

“And sometime in the blur

I wake: and my hands are white and suds

and my fingers are pruning in the 

hot soapy clean:

and I am home.

And I am home.”

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Katie Ailes is a poet and researcher currently conducting her PhD at the University of Strathclyde. Her research focuses on the expression of marginalised voices through contemporary spoken word poetry in the UK. Ailes has performed her poetry across the UK with the collective Loud Poets, and placed second in the 2015 Scottish National Poetry Slam. Her first collection, Homing, was published in August.

Contributing Editor

Jade Mitchell is an 18 year old poet / writer who resides near Glasgow, Scotland. Her work has been featured in The Grind Journal, Inky Paper and Ink Scotland. Aside from working on her writing and poetry, you can find her listening to Lorde and reading every poem she can find in sight.