Girlwood by Jennifer Still
Reviewed by Shannon Webb-Campbell (Telegraph-Journal, New Brunswick, March 19, 2011)
Girl is the subject. Girl is the object. Girl is the essence.
Jennifer Still's second poetry collection, Girlwood, is a cartography of becoming. Winnipeg's powder blue townhouse on Girdwood Crescent may be in a neighbourhood, yet girlhood is an internal geography, a locus of relationship - to and of the self. Still writes, "you could be at every turn the story of the girl you were." Her terms of girlhood include: bobby pins, spandex, Love's Baby Soft cosmetics, sprinklers, truth or dare, stretch marks and babydoll dresses.
With ripe diction, sharp projection and catapulting nerve, Still understands the objective of a poet who documents transformation. Still fearlessly explores the breadth of girlhood, a period of deep introspection and wild disposition. She works with memory, rhymes and provocation, the relationship between body and embodiment, coming together and coming undone. Girlwood is a poetical game of hopscotch. Still leaps between the relationship of a mother and a daughter, a study of boundaries and blurred borders, hopping, skipping and jumping to and from the past into the present.
True to Little-Girl-Lost fables, Girlwood mythologizes the narrative of girls and the roller-coaster ride from adolescence to womanhood. She goes into to the deep dark woods with an internal flashlight and meets with the wolf, herself. Where imagination and reality fuse, a dark past and moments of clarity collide, creating a stunning collection of poems. As a poet, Still is concerned with the complexities of character, finding herself on the bookshelf alongside her kind, Sylvia Plath and Anne Sexton.