Now I Lay Me Down to Fight: A Poet Writes Her Way Through Cancer – Katy Bowser Hutson

Now I Lay Me Down to Fight: A Poet Writes Her Way Through Cancer by Katy Bowser Hutson, Jodi Hays
Published by IVP on November 14, 2023
Genres: Healthcare, Non-Fiction, Christian Life
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In stirring verse and essays, Katy Bowser Hutson chronicles her battle with breast cancer and the complications of faith amid such a fight. Accentuated by the art of Jodi Hays, Katy's words lead us through the realization of cancer, the experience of chemotherapy and a mastectomy, relentless rounds of radiation, the uncertainty of ongoing treatment, and what comes after survival. She writes in resistance to sickness, of wrestling toward beauty:

Cancer is an overgrowth, a kudzu: Tangling and strangling legitimate life.
Chemo is a killing, a burning out:
Burning down to ashy carbon, indiscriminately
But cancer, did you know that I am a poet?

Through it all, she shows what it means to struggle in a battered body and to pray to a God who is near to the broken. Join her in this consideration of mortality and witness her persisting trust in God's unseen ways.

In this collection of poems and essays, Katy Bowser Hutson shares insights from her journey with cancer. She wrote the majority of these poems while she was battling breast cancer, and she has written the essays with five years of hindsight, sharing context for the poems and reflecting on the ways that her writing and faith helped her endure through such a difficult time. This book is a short read, with plenty of white space and abstract artwork interspersed on some pages, but the poems pack a heavy punch, exploring many facets of the author’s physical suffering, emotional distress, and stark confrontation with mortality.

Now I Lay Me Down to Fight: A Poet Writes Her Way Through Cancer is unlike anything I have ever read before, and I really enjoyed it. The author captures vivid personal moments and portrays complex experiences through metaphor, and the poems strike an excellent balance between being profoundly personal and offering up words that express other people’s experiences and feelings, too. Some of the poems are very specific to the author’s circumstances and family, and others reflect universal existential questions and general details about being sick, exhausted, and profoundly worn down.

Now I Lay Me Down to Fight will be a great blessing to other women fighting cancer, and I appreciate how Hutson shares the particulars of her story while acknowledging that she can’t possibly know or speak to everyone’s circumstance. Individual experiences will vary, but she helps give voice to others’ fears and struggles, and I found this book truly remarkable. This poetry collection will be helpful to people who are fighting cancer or looking back over their cancer journey, and this is also a great book for loved ones and medical teams to read to better understand what cancer patients are going through.