I recently read ‘She Must be Mad’ by Charly Cox, a collection of short prose and poetry all about young women growing up in today’s society, and I thought it was the perfect anthology to read and review.
Cox is in her early twenties, and so she is very close in age to me- and the experiences she described through her writing were very relatable.
What really got me about this collection was the honesty of Cox’s writing- she wasn’t afraid to express her thoughts about the world, and she used her writing to help her cope with the various troubles in her life.
While I found that the collection was a little negative when it came to the issues women faced in life, it was still incredibly empowering to young women such as myself.
‘She Must be Mad’ is a beautiful book, and the way Cox has set out her writings, putting them into four categories, makes it easy to turn to your favourite part.
One of the my favourite poems in the collection is ‘Trump.’ Cox brilliantly expresses the fear, worry and pain faced by women in society, repeating the phrase ‘Tell me, sir’ to reflect the patronising way in which women are told how they should be feeling. Despite the name of the poem, it wasn’t an overly-political poem, and I really liked the sentiment behind it.
“Times those fears by ten
Then times them by one hundred
And one thousand and again
Keep multiplying what shakes you
Until it becomes so monstrous
So tangible and noxious
That it no longer feels like fear
It just feels constant
This poem was so hard-hitting, honest and witty, that I had to stop after reading it to really take it in.
It encapsulates everything women try to explain to men– about daily fear, about rape, and about feeling second-class. There are too many horrific stories about women all over the world being treated unfairly, and men not being held accountable for their actions.
It saddens me so much to see women ignored, and justice not being served. If I was in a similar position, there’s nothing stopping a judge trusting a man’s word above mine, just because I was wearing ‘provocative’ clothing. It’s a scary position to be in.
“Your future is bubble-wrapped
And I’m held punishable for it.
Try and tell me that you’re scared
As you bang my head on the glass ceiling
And drag me by my hair
Through statements like
She asked for it.”
I also really liked the prose sections of this book. While the collection was mainly poems, Cox also added some short stories, breaking up the poetry in a unique way that anthologies rarely do and really showing her range as an author.
She talks about first love, heartbreak, and all the men women will fall in love with over the course of their live. She writes in an understandable and relatable way about how love and pain are often intertwined.
While I really liked this collection, and some parts of it were empowering and inspiring, I did find it very negative and a little disheartening. Obviously, there are so many problems in society, and I agree with everything Cox was saying, but I think sometimes there’s a tendency to only focus on the negative. There’s so much that needs to change, but we have also come a long way.
While I think there’s still so much that needs to change regarding women’s position and mental health issues- and a lot of this is to do with attitudes and perceptions- I couldn’t help but feel a bit down about society after reading this.
Nevertheless, the problems raised by Cox were so important, and I will continue to read this collection, and feel empowered by her words. Finding writer’s work that you can really relate to is so important, and this book really spoke to me.
Have you read ‘She Must be Mad’? Would you like to give it a go after reading this review? Do you have any other recommendations for feminist poetry or prose?
Let me know all your thoughts in the comments below 🙂
Happy reading x
Picture credits here