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Girlhood Reviews

Girlhood by Julia Copus


Julia Copus

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1 review

Category: Poetry, Non-fiction
Imprint: Faber & Faber
Publisher: Faber & Faber
Publication date: 4 Mar 2019
ISBN: 9780571351060

This dramatic meeting of minds has us questioning who is the more delusional - doctor or patient: like other victims in this exhilarating new collection, Marguerite may initially appear vanquished, but a closer look reveals how little of herself she has really surrendered.

4 stars out of 5
Kate Kellaway
14 May 2019

"The British poet’s technical dexterity and way of seeing the past afresh reap rich dividends"

Julia Copus’s poems are acts of resistance. The material tests its own boundaries to become something new. She is not limited to – or by – personal experience. One of the many pleasures of this phenomenal collection, her first for seven years, is that you cannot predict the varied ways in which these poems will fly... Copus’s autobiographical poems are as richly detailed as novels, with roaring trains (and, sometimes, people) and an outdated phone “the colour of Milkybars” with her stepfather-to-be on the end of the line. (She has it in for phones: another phone, in a different poem, is “poised on its haunches. Black Bakelite fear.”) I was moved by The Week of Magical Thinking, about a dog’s last days, and how a fragment of willow pattern china stirs wild hope: “Without a future, I thought, there’d be no need of a bridge.”... The collection’s outstanding second half is an exploration of the French psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan’s meetings with Marguerite Pantaine, who attempted to murder the actor Huguette Duflos. It is an anguished sequence. Lacan’s patriarchal interventions, his blind spots in the service of sight, alternate with Marguerite’s tacit mutinies. It ends with How to Eat an Ortolan, in which Lacan consumes a tiny bird. No metaphorical explanation needed, but the poem is as small and perfectly formed as the feast.