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WINNER OF THE DEREK WALCOTT PRIZE FOR POETRY
Julia Copus’s new collection, Girlhood, is a book of transgressed boundaries and seductive veneers. Restlessly inquisitive, it exposes the shifting power balance between things on the verge of becoming and the forces that threaten to destroy them.
Reading these poems, we have the sense of encountering a series of filmic installations arranged by episode in a gallery. Lost, censored or disparaged voices speak out from secluded spaces and moments of hidden history: from within a professor’s office and a deserted department store; from kitchens, bedrooms, hallways and upstairs windows; through changing weathers, fidgety shadows and the witching hour.
Girlhood concludes with a sequence set in a psychiatric hospital that reimagines Jacques Lacan’s treatment of his most famous case study, Marguerite Pantaine. 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.