Review: Girldom, by Megan Peak

Girldom, Megan Peak (2018, Perugia Press)

In November of 2018, I met some really great graduate students pursuing creative writing. One of which is the managing editor for the American Literary Review, and has kind of become a guide/mentor for me. He invited me to a poetry reading in Dallas. What I expected: hanging out with some talented, older poets. What I didn’t expect: hearing a poet read, feeling her voice inside myself, buying one of her books, and her signing my copy. I have found my new favorite poet: Megan Peak.

In 2018, Peak won the Perugia Prize for Best New Woman Poet. Girldom is her first collection of poetry. Many of her poems have been published in Vinyl Poetry and Prose, The Adroit Journal, Winter Tangerine Review, Radar Poetry, and more places. She completed an MFA at The Ohio State University in 2015, where she was Poetry Editor at The Journal. She is currently in Fort Worth, and we’re friends on FaceBook. Perugia Press wrote about her collection, that it “chronicles coming of age as a woman: the violence of discovery, the evolution of sexuality, and the demanding yet necessary acts of self-preservation and resistance.”

Megan Peak’s Girldom sits in an uncomfortable, yet also comfortable place within myself. I remember hearing her read, and thinking to myself, “I’m not alone.” It was reassuring to know that someone else feels/felt, thinks/thought similar feelings and thoughts, but it was hard to reconcile with the constant ache that being a girl is so hard. Her poetry felt familiar and new at the same time, which sparked my imagination. It was as if she were walking through my memories, and revealing new lenses to see them through. It’s investigative and curious; it pushed itself up against me, and both held me and hollowed me out.

Some of my personal favorites are as follows: “Gulf Coast, 6th Grade”, “Sister of Boxed Hair Dye”, “Girldom as Lady Macbeth”, “What I Don’t Tell My Mother About Ohio”, “Origin”, and “Riddance:”.

Peak spoke to me in a way I haven’t heard before. Poetry is so personal, and, because of that, it can be difficult to find a poet you really feel. Sometimes, you can feel what they’re saying, but it doesn’t sink into your own consciousness. It doesn’t whisper, we’re in this together. But Peak’s work did, to me. And I’m writing this, more or less, as a thank you to Peak and Perugia Press. Every time I open Girldom, I feel as if I’m pulled into a world of ice, tenderness, thorns, honey, and all of the messy work that healing is. All of the messy work that being a girl is.

I wish I had more to say. I recommend this book to everyone. If I had the money, I would buy a hundred copies and hand them to my sister, mother, co-workers, friends, and then strangers on the streets. I’m so grateful that art like this exists. My heart goes out to Megan Peak; I absolutely admire her talent as a poet, and her vulnerability, courage, and strength.

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