About the Book
This poetry speaks about the poet’s own struggle and the difficulties that many other women face when making a decision which most men would consider simple— What should I wear today? Anatomy of A Dress explores messages sent and interpreted regarding how women have historically been encouraged to dress, mainly for the pleasure and subjugation of the patriarchy. Poems for this book were written as the final culmination of thoughts and research that developed over a couple of years.
I’ve had the privilege of reviewing several poetry collections on my blog over the course of this year. I’ve enjoyed them all to varying degrees and some, as you would expect, have had more impact than others, but Anatomy of a Dress by Juliette van der Molen is ending the year with a poetic bang.
For me, reading poetry is a process much like bedding in a new pair of shoes. Short, sharp bursts and wandering around aimlessly until I feel comfortable. This was not the case with Anatomy of a Dress. Reading this was like slipping on the most fluffy and luxurious of slippers. I felt instantly at ease with the voice of the poet, and for the first time ever – I devoured the entire collection in one sitting. I read every poem twice. Loved them so much, that I opened and read them again.
The concept is fantastic, and really appealed to me. Fashion as a manifestation of patriarchal control. It drives me bonkers that women in the public eye are only as good as their last outfit. That women of note are remembered more for what they wore than what they’ve actually done. I remember reading a fantastic satirical news report some time during Theresa May’s time as Prime Minister where the reporter highlighted precisely what her husband wore on a particular day that he accompanied his wife. It was ridiculous and it really made me question why it is that what women wear is so important, why is it often lauded as the most interesting thing about us? What would the tabloids and magazines write about if women turned up at, say, the Oscars all wearing matching monochrome penguin suits?
These themes are explored in detail. The relationship between clothing and the patriarchy, the unwritten ‘rules’ of hemlines and necklines that are embedded from girlhood, fashion as a restriction of who we are, repressing our true selves or enhancing our selves for the appreciation of the male glance. Even the form in which the poems take are dramatically slim, a reflection no doubt on the modern perception of beauty.
Every poem is an explosion of vivid imagery, and with each, for me, came an assault of memories where something so seemingly inane as clothing, has actually meant something more. It felt like an epiphany of a read in so many ways, and I know I will think twice over who I am trying to please the next time I open my wardrobe. It is a fantastically well observed collection, and I loved the way in which the poet has felt around in history for examples, tying the past to the present.
In terms of specific poems, I have to single out a few which stood out to me. Buttoned Up gave me actual goosebumps right from the first read, it reminded me of one of my favourite ever poems by Carol Ann Duffy. S(mocked) made me want to weep for the loss of childhood innocence and the imposition of gendered rules and the final title poem Anatomy of a Dress, perfectly sums up the collection, the second and fifth stanzas particularly standing out to me.
Every poem feels tight and loaded, the language concise to maximum effect. Accessible and relevant, I found meaning in every poem. There is so much to admire, and this is a collection that I am both inspired by and aspire to. For me, this is without question my poetry collection of the year.
Anatomy of a Dress is currently available to pre order and will be released on 16th December 2019.
About the Poet
Juliette van der Molen is an ex-pat poet currently living in the United Kingdom. She is an intersectional feminist and member of the LGBTQIA community. Her work has also appeared in Burning House Press, Memoir Mixtapes, Collective Unrest and several other publications. Her books include: Death Library: The Exquisite Corpse Collection, Mother, May I? and the forthcoming Confess: the untold story of Dorothy Good. You can connect with her through Twitter via @j_vandermolen and at her website http://www.JulietteWrites.com
From Poet :
*I received a copy of the collection following a recommendation. The decision to read and be involved in this blog tour was my own, and this review forms my honest opinion.