Originally published on Blank Paper Press
Gagnier’s Swear To Me, his first collection explicitly addressing mental health was a triumph. It united writers from across the globe and there was a raw honesty within the pages which helped me feel less alone as I read it.
Gagnier calls us ‘legion’ and here, as ‘all the lonely people’ unite once more, the pain and strength is palpable.
This sequel goes against the grain and truly is better than its predecessor. Swear To Me was exceptional but its sequel is phenomenal. This anthology, in my opinion, is Gagnier’s best work in the poetry sphere. In his quest for self acceptance, he has harnessed his voice. He teaches his readers how to hurt and then turn the hurt into free verse, truth, hope and humanity. And that is what this anthology is about – our humanity and our struggle to contain it with society’s parameters when really we shouldn’t give a f**k. Gagnier’s poetry breathes ragged breaths as he shares his struggle to love himself before others, and the collaborations and pieces from others bolster this sentiment superbly.
After finishing the collection I felt a familiar feeling of camaraderie. Except this time, I also felt strength. Since the release of Swear To Me, all of the writers featured, including Gagnier, have grown into their voices and art, and many have experienced heartache, loss and grief. Thus, these voices feel firmer – Gagnier and the poets he has assembled are steadfast in their belief that in their words there is healing. It is a beautiful thing to read and witness. It is a collection which is needed and I encourage you to read it; to feel the love and words within it.
On that note, I will leave you with my favourite lines from ‘Ten More Things’; a poem written from Gagnier to his daughter.
‘It doesn’t matter who you love, as long as you love. It doesn’t matter what you create, whether on canvas or page, the face of your children or new threads of fate; see what you love and grab it, laugh at it, because that’s the one place that magic survives.’