#GIRLHOOD by Cat Hepburn

Cat Hepburn's new collection is the lovechild of slam poetry and the snatched rant over coffee away from unfriendly ears; a rollicking, eyebrow-cocker of a read.

Book Review by Clare Mulley | 03 Dec 2018
  • #Girlhood
Book title: #GIRLHOOD
Author: Cat Hepburn

Cat Hepburn's new collection is the lovechild of slam poetry and the snatched rant over coffee or in the loo, away from unfriendly ears. Based around familiar subjects and scenarios, #GIRLHOOD takes us through the experiences that create, develop, warp, break and strengthen women and girls.

While the style may prove a little on the declamatory side, the ring of truth in every line will nevertheless find its mark. The collection switches frequently between the anecdotal and the didactic, from manifesto pieces on the challenge of womanhood and the meaning of beauty, to the schoolgirl wanting to have it all and realising that other people's views are as much an impediment as her own mistakes, and the grown woman looking back with new knowledge.

One of the keynotes is Good girls go to Heaven, bad girls go to Magaluf, in which four school friends find their end-of-term trip isn't quite the riot they imagined, and the personas they put on – influenced by social norms and pressure – aren't what really brings happiness or freedom. The joy of this poem is its conclusion, fast-forwarding years ahead, when each woman contemplates her holiday tattoo in her current situation, and we see how different their lives have become with maturity and greater independence.

Bittersweet, irreverent and to-the-point, these poems speak of life's knots and identity pitfalls all too clearly. Laughter will often be accompanied by a twinge of pain – the kind of laugh we all need sometimes, if only to purge us of the bottled up emotions we (still) don't always feel comfortable expressing on a daily basis.

Speculative Books, out now, £6.99 https://www.speculativebooks.net/shop-1/cat-hepburn-girlhood-preorder