An Introduction to Melissa Ginsburg by Emma Bolden

A chain of paper dolls: in Melissa Ginsburg’s hands, this simple childhood craft project becomes a metaphor for what it means to be raised as a girl. In these wry and inventive poems, girlhood becomes an act of making – or, rather, the act of being made, the paper dolls an expertly crafted metaphor a process of cultural indoctrination in which one is taught what it means to be a woman. Here, teachings about womanhood are lessons in uniformity: how to dress the same, move the same, how to act and live the same, and all in accordance with social expectations for women. But Ginsburg’s poems are ultimately about the importance of rebellion, how breaking the chain can lead to freedom not only for the self but for “ the next / girl in line // and the next.”