A linguistically inventive exaltation, a wild ride down into the privacies, the here-and-goneness of girlhood.
In Girlwood, Jennifer Still's second collection, her poems come of age: they take the dare; they cross out of sapling and into maturity's thicket. But the poems don't leave the girl behind, they bring her along: as sylph, as raconteur, as witness, as pure, unstoppable bravado. These songs of liberation and confinement arise from the rich and mysterious connection between mother and daughter. Here, the mother figure is as vulnerable as the daughter, caged by domestic duty, by the fear that snakes through sexuality, the longing and the repulsion that accompany mortal desire. The daughter is at once compassionate and defiant. This is the paradox at the heart of this collection. “Mother, divine me,” Jennifer Still writes, and later, “Mother, spare me.” Between these two phrases, which are both plea and command, we experience all the tangled pathways between mother and daughter, the cries of devotion and the congested laments.
“Girlwood is a cartography of becoming… With ripe diction, sharp projection and catapulting nerve… Still fearlessly explores the breadth of girlhood, a period of deep introspection and wild disposition.”—Shannon Webb-Campbell, Telegraph-Journal