It seems like Casey Bailey has been adjusting all his life. Adapting to the harsh realities of his Nechells upbringing – the drugs, the weapons, the lost friends, the lost hope. Finding ways to assimilate and swallow injustices and ways of being treated that no-one should have to tolerate. Finding a way to make meaning of his life – a way to contribute.
And to some extent, he succeeded. He made the moves he needed to make and began to find his place. And then 2017 happened – when within a year he lost his mother and became a father and was forced to deal with extreme loss and joy, pride and pain, as life-sized as they get and all at the same time.
This book is about Casey’s journey, and is an attempt to tell the story of this last tumultuous year, when sky-high highs and lows as low as ocean beds combined to form something else entirely; when a whole new raft of adjustments, bigger than any he’d made before, were asking to happen.
Casey’s poetry is up to the challenge of capturing all this. He has an uncanny ability to make simple poetic statements about things which remain resolutely complex. He can capture the extreme highs and the godawful lows of the life of a young man losing big and gaining large. His poems should break under the weight of the joy they contain and the grief they depict. But they don’t. They look at their subject with the steadfast glare of one who refuses to be beaten and is resolute in his duty and desire to protect those he cares about most.
Casey is a glorious performer, whose words refuse to falter in the face of the wild emotions they seek to communicate. But it is here on the page that the true depth of Casey’s vision comes through. Lows as clear as crystal – highs as detailed and fragile as hearts made of glass.
Casey recently had two videos of his work filmed and broadcast by BBC3, each amassing over 200,000 views on facebook.