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New aquisitions

Beautiful Girls by Melissa Lee-Houghton | 19-Feb-17

Staff Pick from our Poetry Library Open Day 2016.


Beautiful Girls / by Melissa Lee-Houghton -- London : Penned in the Margins, 2013.

The reader occupies several realities in Lee-Houghton's second collection. The poems in the first half of the book take us into an adolescent world, where our concerns are our bodies, our sexuality and desires, adoration of our beautiful friend, the need to cut, to self-medicate, to escape. The vulnerability portrayed in these poems is palpable and, although some might consider them upsetting and extreme, the raw clarity of each pressing moment is honest in a way only poetry can be. These are surrounded by seeming hallucinations - a body hidden under the floorboards, vampires that lie in your bed with you, a suicidal 5-year-old loosening the windows in an asylum. The effect is haunting and yet mesmerising.

In the latter half of the book, the sphere we inhabit alongside the poet is more adult - motherhood, death, infatuation and love are our concerns:

I am beside myself because I can't have you
completely, and although
you give yourself to me completely
I can't have you and I'm beside myself.

Beautiful Girls is undoubtedly an intense collection; for me the poems capture not just what it is to be a girl but to be an adult, in all its beauty and ugliness. Anyone who has ever listened to Sparklehorse and thought about dying (p. 75) will relate to this book.

Jessica Atkinson
Digital Coordinator


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