‘In the opening poem of Betty Doyle’s Girl Parts, there is deft shift from tenderness ‘this place again. It’s where I wake up / and recall I have no daughter’ to anger ‘or…turn on the news and feel thankful I have no daughter’. This oscillation between vulnerability and rage is on show throughout this confident collection; a striking exploration of the pain, exhaustion and fear that comes with living in a female body: ‘Sometimes it carries keys / between knuckles’.
The girl ‘parts’ of the title are, on one hand, the body parts depicted in poems like Polycystic Ovaries and Eggs, but are also the ‘parts’ that women play in society – as victims, as mothers – and the consequences when we fail to play these roles. ‘Spotting’ beautifully enacts the precarious balance between life and death, hope and despair, that comes with trying to conceive: ‘Spotting / a sign of cancer / a sign of baby / I think only / of baby / its tiny palms starfish / shaped in greeting’. This pamphlet brings a bold, unflinching voice to the previously unspoken topics of female bodily experience.’ – Natalie Whittaker
’Tender, fierce, full of joy and rage. I wish I’d written so many of these poems and I’m thankful that Betty Doyle has. A must-read.’ – Helen Mort
Girl Parts is Betty Doyle’s debut pamphlet.
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