How to Take off Your Clothes
Written by: Hadassah Grace
Dead Bird Books
Reviewed by: Ollie Kavanagh Penno
“throw your words on the floor, you don’t need them
forget your real name
forget how old you are
your name is denatured, unfit to drink
your words are poison, unfit to eat
assume everyone is watching”.
In the afterword to her first book, How to Take off Your Clothes, Hadassah Grace writes, “I don’t really like a lot of poetry but here I am writing a book of it.” A contradiction characteristic of her debut poetry collection, Grace’s poems juxtapose a diverse range of her experiences. Darting from being raised by Christian folk-singing celebrities to working as a sex worker, these works illustrate that many things, in simultaneity, can be true for one person.
“I don’t do forever
why keep feeding a campfire when you’re not cold anymore
even emails with attachments make me nervous”.
Although contemporary poetry is synonymous with the autobiographical, the heights Grace’s introspection reaches in her poems separates them from anything I have ever read. The result? A peculiar and bold lucidity.
“we are ruined women, and we are here to ruin you
we’ve always been here
the witches you burned because you knew we were magic
swapping our vacuum cleaner for broomsticks
and cackling about castration under the light of the full moon
we’re the girls you said were begging for it, too horny to be forced”.
Grace’s poems remind me of the clarity that strikes while mulling over an argument; here are the words you wish you had thought and dared to say. No ums or aahs.