About When the World Didn’t End
Caroline Kaufman returns with a second collection of short, powerful poems about love, forgiveness, self-discovery, and her personal experience living after a hard-fought battle with depression. Kaufman takes readers on a journey down a path of embracing imperfections, unlearning self-criticism and facing past hurt. When the World Didn’t End is a collection of fan favorite poems from her social media account along with new material.
Caroline is a talented poet and reading her words is fascinating. This collection reflects a young woman struggling with who she has become. It’s a scary thing to find fame for personal pain. Mostly because it becomes her identifier—the thing that makes her relevant or what she perceives as relevant. And unlike Syliva Plath, she’s in recovery. Caroline Kaufman’s collection waffles between finding healing and reopening old wounds because the pain is what her readers want to hear…or at least she thinks that’s what they want to hear.
sometimes I try to keep
my pain close to the surface.
because I am scared that people
will no longer want me once my memory
of the hurt runs out.
once there is no more sadness
to fill these pages.
it is so easy to
reopen closed wounds
when people see my bloodshed
(When the World Didn’t End, page 7)
As a reader, I’m blown away by her talent. As a mother, I worry about her. I want her to write about the positives in her life and let go of the bloodshed. Like a cutter reopening a wound, it isn’t healthy. I think her readers will accept her for who she is now without having to reopen the pain. We want to hear there is hope. We want the silver lining. As a reader following her journey, I want her to embrace and champion the hope I feel in her poems like these:
this world tried to kill me,
but I do not hold a grudge
for attempted murder.
I came back with forgiveness,
tail wagging and eyes wide open
like a dog finding its way back home
after being left at the curb
over and over and over again.
I think that’s the only way
to get through this life, really.
to pant and shake and lick your wounds
and forgive forgive forgive
once you find your way back home.
because if the world is to blame
for you losing your way,
then the world is to thank
for you finding it again.
—When the World Didn’t End, page 170
When The World Didn’t End is a captivating portrait of the struggle to find healing. And I think it is a microcosm for young adults and teenagers in society today.
As a mother of four teenage daughters, we have run the gambit of emotions. We have dealt with depression, we have wrangled thoughts of suicide, and we have helped friends off the ledge. A therapist once told us that despair is a sickness and it is contagious. I see it in our schools. I see it in our country. So how as a society, do we stop the spread? How do we help our children who are hurting? I think Caroline is right: we forgive forgive forgive.
As someone who had an awful #MeToo experience in high school, I also know you have to take a breath and let go. Let go of the pain, allow yourself to live and be open to love. When I could finally forgive and let go, then it no longer felt like an impossibility.
When the World Didn’t End Poems by Caroline Kaufman is out now. You can buy the collection on Amazon.
Have you read her poems? Have you dealt with depression? What helps you heal?