Review of A Girl is a Shapeshifter, Jasmine S. Higgins

A GIRL IS A SHAPESHIFTER is Higgins’ debut poetry collection – pieced together alone and across six months, it follows the voice of a young woman intent on loving herself fiercely and making a mark on the ever-widening world around her.

From the opening poem, ‘nice to meet you’, I was in love with Higgins’ words and the way she has told a story of growth but without an end. There is still so much room for her to blossom and bloom as both a woman and a poet.

Higgins is an expert when it comes to summing up feelings and experiences in ways we can relate to, yet have never heard of before:

“the skies come undone like loose braids

stars scatter like falling glitter

and the sea just watches from its living room.”

It was also refreshing to read a modern poetry collection which was indeed full of poetry. Too often collections nowadays are pages with lots of empty space with three or four lines of boiled down thoughts. Higgins’ words go beyond this and take you back and into places you have been before but she holds all of the pieces in her hands and shows you them in a new light – refracting rainbow rays everywhere.

She is not afraid either to say how it is:

“this clunky mashing of skin, sweat pouring off of

him and onto me, hair getting stuck to everything,

his greatest achievement,”

This tone in her voice reminds me of Yrsa Daley-Ward’s gut-punching and ruthless, yet poetic, storytelling. The way she de-robes all to reveal the flaws we have sunk deep into our pores.

Still, Higgins retains her own individual voice – especially when the speaker in ‘if we had grown up together’ put her baby teeth into her lover’s palm and asked:

“did you see us?

did you see us growing up?”

Thus, upon finishing A GIRL IS A SHAPESHIFTER I was left incredibly impressed, already desiring more of Higgins’ work and had several poems dog-eared for future re-reading.

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