Review: She Must Be Mad

Author: Wendy Tuxworth

She Must Be Mad by Charly Cox is a book of poetry published in 2018.

Charly captures the formative experiences of today’s young women from the poignant to the prosaic in writing that is at once witty, wry and heartfelt. Wayward nights out that don’t go as planned; the righteous anger at those men with no talent or skill or smarts who occupy the most powerful positions in the world; the strange banality of madness and, of course, the hurt and indecision of unrequited love.

For every woman surviving and thriving in today’s world, for every girl who feels too much; this is a call for communion, and you are not alone.

Trigger warnings: sexual content, description of rape/sexual assault, description of depression, toxic relationships

Charly Cox is a 23-year-old poet from London. Her poetry focuses on coming-of-age as a young woman, and destigmatising mental health. It is also delightfully approachable, and utterly gorgeous. I can’t believe that this woman is only one year older than me!

(I want to just briefly mention – she’s an Instagram poet. And I think that is awesome. I like poetry that is approachable – more on that below! – and I love the idea of people, mainly women, using social media to encourage others to read poetry! The denigration of Instagram poets is really down to ageism and sexism, in my mind, because the movement is fronted by young women. I am deliriously happy that young women such as Charly Cox and Rupi Kaur can talk about important topics like race and mental health in this way, and actually make money from it too. So if I get any comments about how overly simple/silly Instagram poets are?! BEGONE!)

She Must Be Mad is split into four parts: she must be in love, she must be mad, she must be fat, she must be an adult. I honestly don’t know if I have a favourite part? I found all of them to be intensely relatable. I don’t often read poetry, because I sometimes find it really confusing and I don’t really like reading things I don’t understand. (And I studied poetry at university!) So when I do find a poet who talks about important themes in interesting ways, without being too difficult? I bloody love it.

Even though the collection is roughly split in four, this doesn’t mean she sticks solely to these themes. Some of the poems are about Trump, social media, and relationships with family members, such as her grandfather.

One of the poems I liked the best is ‘filters’:

I sit back so often with a chest thudding sigh

Scrolling

Refreshing

Relentless tapping

All down to an art

And think

Since when did I ignore my own heart to hack at my own life?

And since when did I become an image to sell of a millennial with scraps of sanity as its price?

There are also different sections of prose which talk a little bit more about the themes. Again, these were just gorgeous. I wonder if she would ever write fiction or a memoir in prose?

To sum up, I really enjoyed this collection. I love hearing young and emerging female voices, particularly in poetry. The fact that she basically wrote a poetry book about the last four years of my life?! Absolutely stunning. I love it.

And I would seriously consider getting this line tattooed on me somewhere:

She must be mad but my god, she’s brave too.

This review was originally published on whatthelog.

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