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.
Praise For Girlwood:
“These poems track the wilderness of adolescence back to “that point where you have nothing// but a moving edge.” Achingly precise line breaks, vivid images, scratch deep into the unspoken of mother-daughter inheritance. Haunting and powerful, an extraordinary sounding of female psyche.” — Daphne Marlatt
“Each little poem in Still’s Girlwood is often a caress, but the combined heft is a sharp slap. And Still is smart enough and tough enough to have woken herself up first.” — Bill Robertson, Saskatoon StarPhoenix
“Jennifer Still’s second poetry collection is a poetic game of hopscotch played along a set of train tracks… It is true that the reader is taken on a ride through a terrain riddled with potholes, but the pace and seductive staccato rhythm of a train, which is sustained throughout the collection, the poet’s obvious emotional engagement in the material, combined with deft manipulation of concrete detail and abstraction, of language and form. — Anna Mioduchowska, Prairie Fire Review of Books.
Becoming Woman — Canadian Literature