Friday 2 February 2024

Review by Cathi Rae of "Makeover" by Laurie Bolger

Laurie Bolger is an award-winning poet, performer and founder of The Creative Writing Breakfast Club. It seems that the poet Laurie Bolger and I have things in common – Irish working-class roots, an interest in writing and thinking about fashion ... and we both found and read grown-up sex books at an impressionable age.

Makeover is a collection of the domestic, the small, the lives of ordinary working-class women, the stories of mothers, daughters, grandmothers, sisters and friends, all described with film-still precision. Her descriptive language is beautiful. She’s able to conjure up that moment, that childhood in ways that evoke a time and place even if you weren’t there and her pen portraits make me feel as if I know these women:

          Aunt Teasy    all horoscopes and nails
                      cursing and coughing
          like she emptying great bags of gravel
          straight onto the coffee table 

Bolger finds beauty in the smallest things, city flowers, the go-faster powers of a frilly swim suit, and the unspoken, when women hold onto lives, make spaces for themselves and challenge society’s expectations of what a good woman is.

This is a confection of a collection – easy to read in one delicious gulp and then return to again and again, always finding a new image, a justifiable blast of anger and defiance. It’s also the only collection I’ve ever read where Sylvanian Families get a name check.

About the reviewer
Cathi Rae is in the final year of an M4C funded creative / practice-led PhD. A new pamphlet collection, Just this side of sea-worthy, will be available from Two Pigeons Press in March 2024.

You can read more about Makeover by Laurie Bolger on Creative Writing at Leicester here

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