Review of The Myths of Girlhood, Christine E. Ray

Everyone has the capacity to write. Some people write uplifting messages in greeting cards. Some people write hilarious commencement speeches. Some people write like their entire existence depends on it and in doing so etch their soul into the stars. After reading Composition of a Woman, Ray convinced me she was the latter. The Myths of Girlhood undeniably proves I was right. Ray writes with her body, mind and soul. She bares her beating heart and encourages you to join her – to dance around the fire of love, loss and trauma with a smile on your face because you are learning too, that fire may burn but your eyes burn brighter.

Girlhood is a coming of age anthology that any woman, of any age can read and identify with. Ray evolves with each poem. Her voice grows, leaves her throat and fills a room – as it should, as all our voices should. Ray with both her books, but especially this one, is teaching us how to speak after so many years of silencing herself and I cannot get enough. Girlhood made me feel brave. Girlhood made me feel part of something bigger than me. Girlhood made me feel like a woman.

Ray begins this anthology as the Queen of Nothing. In her formative years, hiding in the shadow and in silence was a comfort. However, ‘Queen’ forced me to hold my breath. I knew she would be more than this. I waited with bated breath and she stunned with Unforgotten:

‘but experience has taught me

that you too will burn off

like tendrils of grasping fog

with the arrival of

the dawn’


With Ivory Brushed with Starlight:

‘your kiss is honey and cardamom

I am filled with your light

as your soul expands

to fill all my damaged places’


With Feline:

‘your fingers knotted in wrinkled sheets, relishing

your scream of release that I alone owned, finally

settling down like a contented house cat, licking

cream off both our mouths.’


And of course, with the eponymous poem The Myths of Girlhood:

‘we ate up the lessons that with the right make-up

the right clothes


if we took enough quizzes

in Seventeen magazine

about how to be popular

how to catch his eye

contorted ourselves into pretzels

we might almost be enough

This is what being a woman, or a girl, or a ‘temptress’, or a ‘bitch’ feels like. Girlhood teaches every reader that no matter what people call you or do to you, you are; beautiful, messy, sexy, vulnerable, invincible, complex and authentic. You are you and that is the biggest power play you can make in this world.

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