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Her Patient Flight by Catie Nettingham

Catie Nettlingham is a young person who has been through struggles and faced her demons in a creative and emotional way. She has reached into her psychological tapestry and drawn out a myriad of really quite remarkable poems aiding herself and others in the process.

The stories and ideas presented in this collection are becoming increasingly familiar, the battle with mental health, the struggle to find support, the difficulties with the system, the love of those around you, and the lack of resources to really get the help you need.

It’s becoming a broken record that seems to not have any tangible outcome in the foreseeable future. So, in response, Catie Nettlingham turned to poetry to outlay her emotions, and heal in her own way.

To spread hope, I write.

To help others, I write.

For wellness, for stability, I write.

My words are my calming therapy.

(Catie Nettlingham)

Using largely free verse to present her often raw emotional states, Nettlingham is able to speak from a voice of wisdom, and of hope. There is a strength in the imagery and a clarity to the recollections of her experiences through the mental heath system.

Beautifully split into sections delineated by whakatauki that speak to connection with others, and with the land. The small but consistent references to te ao Māori are subtle but highly effective.

Of particular note is the way she speaks of recovery:

Recovery does not look like to go in a straight line.

Recovery also does not like to be timed.

Recovery is frustrating and confusing.

Recovery cannot be controlled.

(Recovery by Catie Nettlingham)

While some of the poems are less convincing in their craft as others, they each bring out a facet of mental health both for the individual and for those around them.

The pun on the title Her Patient Flight evokes the importance of time in recovery, as well as the depths of her emotional trials over the past few years.

This feels like a window into the process of recovery for Nettlingham, an intimate and rewarding experience for her, and for the reader. One feels connected and deeply empathetic to the trials and frustrations of Catie as she continues her battle.

Reviewer: Chris Reed

Mary Egan Publishing


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