In her debut poetry collection How The Wind Calls The Restless, Emily DeYoung masterfully captures the feeling of uncertainty that comes with age. Through poems that guide readers through her transition from adolescence into adulthood, DeYoung describes both the fear and restlessness of entering your early twenties. The collection is told in twelve parts, each recounting the many wonderfully scary experiences and feelings young adults have as they grow older. Largely inspired by DeYoung’s own restlessness, How The Wind Calls The Restless encourages readers to follow whichever path the wind takes them, even if it may not be the conventional way.
The collection opens with the poem “Dripping,” which is an honest portrayal of her writing process. Though she candidly states that she has to “force” herself to be a poet, DeYoung’s language effortlessly conjures the image of an uncertain writer attempting to fit the traditional model of how a poet should write. While she initially tries to make the act of dripping seem profound, as she believes other poets would do, DeYoung instead decides to put her own unique spin on the word by highlighting its mundaneness. This bold decision shapes DeYoung’s character, one who is made restless by conforming to the status quo. DeYoung has an awareness of what is considered conventional but chooses to do whatever she wishes, which is further demonstrated in her other poems. “Dripping” also skillfully establishes her voice as a poet, and this piece introduces the underlying sense of commonality that is interwoven in each poem throughout the collection.
In the next few parts, DeYoung utilizes a nostalgic perspective when describing past memories and her former innocence, which affirms her uneasy feelings about aging. She writes about returning to a once-familiar street and noticing how it has changed in her absence (“Familiarity”), of heartbreak and loss (“Open”), and of joyfully reminiscing about childhood until the realization that those days are gone overwhelms you (“Tinsel Vineyards”). She also recalls her childhood and watching other kids having fun, the playful actions she writes about directly contrasting her wistful tone. These are all ordinary yet impactful moments that everyone experiences at a point in their lives in some way, and DeYoung captures the vulnerability we feel when considering how much we have lost.
Most notably, DeYoung consistently circles back to the concept of death in between recalling these past and present moments. Her fixation on the past, present, and future is emphasized by her consideration of what it must be like to be on your deathbed (“The Bastards and The Birds”), or how she will live the remainder of her life until she reaches the end (“Consolation”). She frequently becomes caught up in these thoughts, the poems addressing or asking open-ended questions such as What if? or What happens then?. The realization that you have permanently left your childhood is an intensely terrifying feeling, and DeYoung’s open depiction of what someone just coming to terms with this experiences shows readers who may feel similarly that they are not alone.
Despite her fears, DeYoung’s restlessness, and how she acts on that drive, shows that she still has so much life left to live. DeYoung travels and explores the world instead of going to college, and her adventures while abroad demonstrate her liveliness. Even though she is not a teenager anymore, DeYoung lives fully. The most inspiring, real poem in the collection is “Afraid,” which shows the new outlook DeYoung adopts through her travels. She writes: “photographs start peeling, but please / don’t waste your time trying to straighten them out / Throw them into the field / for the next generation of Lost Causes to find / once they remember that being Alive / is worth being very, very Afraid” (113). The ending of this poem sums up everything she has learnt. She asserts that instead of trying to hold onto your memories, let your experiences inspire others in the same position so that they can see there is so much more to life than fixating on the future. DeYoung’s writing about her growth does exactly that, while also encouraging readers to live their lives to the fullest potential, even if that means going against the grain.
DeYoung’s collection is an authentic, inspiring depiction of moments which lead up to her eventual acceptance of aging. The poems take readers along on her personal journey, experiencing exactly what she felt as she went through it. DeYoung strayed away from ordinary experiences which made her feel stagnant, and satisfying her restlessness inspired her to change her entire mindset. A striking, moving portrait of growth and overcoming the loss of childhood, How The Wind Calls The Restless is a collection that will leave readers with a new perspective on life.
Victoria Carrubba is a senior English Publishing Studies student at Hofstra University. She is currently a tutor at her university’s writing center and a copyeditor for The Hofstra Chronicle. She has also worked on her university’s literary magazines, Font and Growl, and was previously a fiction editor for Windmill Journal. Outside of work, she can be found reading, dancing, painting, or drinking chai.
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