“You are so much stronger than the world
has ever believed you to be.”
This is how the end of one of the most evocative poems of Clementine von Radics’ poetry collection, Mouthful of Forevers, begins. Advice to Teenage Girls with Wild Ambitions and Trembling Hearts is a feminist anthem for those addressed in the poem’s title – the oft-ignored teenage girls. Yet this is nowhere near what the collection is about.
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von Radics’ collection is as much intensely private as it is public – in fact, it is perhaps titled more towards the private rather than the public. von Radics addresses a variety of topics through her poetry, including history, religion, classic literature, current events, and mythology, but more often than not, she returns her audience to the inner spaces of her mind, and the personal history that she has lived through. Her topics are many and her approaches plenty, but more than anything, there’s one thing her poetry keeps returning to – the promise of rebellion.
“ Punish the man who hurt me,” Salome ends the poem Salome, Redux, and Mouthful of Forevers is at its heart a collection about exactly that – the rebellion and fight of girls and women. That’s what von Radics’ poetry is about – it is no coincidence that her poetry references women of the past and present, ones whose names are well known and those whose have been forgotten, aside from – of course – her own self.
“This is how we heal.
I will kiss you like forgiveness.”
Just like her words in the collection’s titular poem, “Mouthful of Forevers”, suggest, von Radics ultimately writes to heal, both herself and others. It’s a collection of broken hearts and spirits that may have no business becoming whole, but which manage to stumble through knitting themselves together nonetheless. And through her words, she helps others do the same.
This collection is perfect for both beginners with poetry, and those who are already experienced and in love with it. As far as I am concerned, it is an extremely significant selection of modern poetry, focusing on both the internal and the external – and I would go so far as to argue that “Advice to Teenage Girls with Wild Ambitions and Trembling Hearts” and “Salome Redux” are two of the most empowering and important poems that all young girls and women should read.
Recommended Age Group: Girls and guys, but girls especially. (14+)
Rishika Aggarwal is a 23-year-old perpetual student, writing poetry in between work and literary theory. You can find her reading, and arguing about books with Sakhi, or at rishwrites.tumblr.com and https://gumroad.com/rishwrites.