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4 Poetry Collections to Read After You Listen to Kacey Musgraves’ Deeper Well

Long-time fans of Kacey Musgraves have seen the country singer-songwriter traverse a deeply personal and tumultuous journey throughout her work in the last six years. Her 2018 album Golden Hour, which won the Grammy Award for Best Country Album, chronicled the artist falling in love through hazy, dream-fueled songs like “Slow Burn” and “Butterflies.” Its follow-up, Star-Crossed, confronted the collapse of that dream and its aftermath, notably containing the line, “I’ve been to Hell and back / Golden hour faded black.”


In Deeper Well, which came out this month, Musgraves lingers in between these two extremes, reflecting on the turbulence of her relationships, the lessons she’s learned, and the outpouring of love she found within herself, which the title references. The album is slow-paced and cozy, with diaristic and inquisitive lyrics. Diving in feels much the same as opening the first crisp page of a poetry collection—here are four that build on the album’s themes and imagery. 


Self Love Poetry for Thinkers & Feelers by Melody Godfred


In the lyrics of “Deeper Well,” the album’s titular track and first single, Musgraves reflects on one of the primary lessons and realizations she’s internalized: “The things I was taught only took me so far / Had to figure the rest out myself. / And then I found / I found a deeper well.” The other songs on the album point to how Musgraves found this “deeper well” through time with herself and the quiet rituals of daily life. In Self Love Poetry for Thinkers & Feelers, self-described “Self Love Philosopher” Melody Godfred teaches her readers how they can cultivate similar practices and this awakening themselves. 


On Wings of Song: Poems About Birds by J.D. McClatchy


From Emily Dickinson to Gertrude Stein, poets have written about birds throughout literary history. Kacey Musgraves takes similar inspiration on “Cardinal,” a track where she explores the symbolism of this bird and its ties to the spiritual realm. In addition to this bird-specific track, Deeper Well also has a wider tie-in for bird-watching enthusiasts: Like a bird-watcher at the window or in the field, Musgraves notices and takes delight in everyday sights and details. Check out J.D. McClatchy’s collection On Wings of Song: Poems about Birds for more bird-based poetic revelry.


The Crystal Text by Clark Coolidge


On Deeper Well, Kacey Musgraves enters her crystal girl era. “I wanna bathe in the moonlight / Until I’m fully charged,” she sings on the track “Jade Green.” In this way, the crystal, jade, becomes a metaphor for Musgraves herself as she muses about “healing the broken parts” and staying “cool, calm, and protected.” In the avant-garde poetry release The Crystal Text, poet Clark Coolidge draws a like-minded parallel, seeing the crystal as a lens into his own inner life. 


The World Keeps Ending, and the World Goes On by Franny Choi


The arc of Musgraves’s writing over the past almost-decade has gone from hope to despair and everywhere in between. Deeper Well is a testament to the beauty and growth that can be found in and after destruction, upheaval, and darkness. Even the title of award-winning poet Franny Choi’s The World Keeps Ending, and the World Goes On reflects this. Like Musgraves, Choi examines calamity—specifically societal, political, and cultural—and what waits when we face and survive it. 


Want to go on a deeper dive into Kacey Musgraves’s music and discover poetry that mirrors it? Check out our poetry pairings for the artist’s previous four albums, from Same Trailer Different Park to Star-Crossed.