“Dream Girl” by Clementine von Radics is a book of modern poetry that covers the experience of girlhood. This experience paints a picture of feminism, sexism, dehumanization, idealization, and love. While the experience of being female can be at times raw and disconcerting, Radics openly shows her wounds to us and invites us to open ours as well.
In the poem “Explaining Girlhood to a Boy Who Has Never Been There” the poet muses on the realities of being born female. We find her spilling her feelings on the page explaining to the boy involved in the conversation that nobody “looks at them and says meal” the way she feels men do to her. Furthermore, she goes on to explain that in being objectified as a female, she also feels she is expected to say “thank you” in return.
In the poem “The Fidelity of the Fourth Step” Radics reflects on a relationship that has ended. She realizes that when looking back on the relationship she still sees love while he looks back and sees rock bottom. She ultimately agrees with him and writes to him thanking him for helping her realize that love doesn’t have to look “like a shot glass or a shotgun.” This poem can be found in spoken word form by the author here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sBTk0_Sm_lk
In the poem “The Haus in North Portland” we learn about a story of loss delivered in collections of images. During the height of mourning a group of friends gather around a garden they shared. Radics shows us the beauty and devastation of loss by lamenting that “everything sang of your absence and never really stopped singing.”
“Dream Girl” is a great introduction to those who aren’t familiar with poetry and its ability to cohesively weave together reality and fiction. While the poems have a focus on the experience of girlhood, I would also suggest this to boys and men who are curious to understand the experiences of their female friends, partners, sisters, and mothers as well.