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HOW TO (UN)CAGE A GIRL by Francesca Lia Block

HOW TO (UN)CAGE A GIRL

By Francesca Lia Block

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 2008
ISBN: 978-0-06-135836-4
Publisher: Joanna Cotler/HarperCollins

Free verse, somewhat surprisingly, makes a better framework for Block’s plush imagery than does prose, as this spare collection of poems about women young and old demonstrates. Three brief, multiple-poem chapters comprise this work: “years at the asylum,” “in the lair of the toxic blonde” and “love poems for girls.” The implied audience of these Plath-aspiring verses seems not to be young women, however, but more mature ones. “love poems for girls,” in particular, presents youth as something to remember and learn from. One poem celebrates a woman who’s been married twice, has two children and teaches middle school, while another begins, “remember college.” Still another first-person poem runs from 1970 to 2007, with a verse that begins “i am about to turn forty-five.” The poems that cherish adulthood are this collection’s real wealth, while those that attempt to speak to youth, such as the penultimate “forty-five thoughts for my daughter and my virtual daughters”—peppered with such flavorless lines as “plant a tree” and “tv is a depressant”—lack spark. (Poetry. YA & adult)