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Beautiful Girls

Melissa Lee-Houghton

"Beautiful Girls will survive as a testament to poetry's force in overcoming"

Chris McCabe
a poetry book society recommendation
next generation poet award 2014

In this hypnotic and arresting collection Melissa Lee-Houghton holds a mirror to our mouths and teaches us how to breathe so that hurts like hell. (Abegail Morley)

Beautiful Girls is not a book for the faint-hearted. The reader has been invited to a sleepover at the asylum, a night in which five-year old girls drift alone through the wards, where the mentally unstable do sit-ups when nobody is watching and where heaven is a place between “the sky and the planets” reserved for those with personality disorders. This collection will be a home-to-home for sufferers and a journey through terrible night for those who’ve been fortunate enough to take the non-scenic route in life. Melissa Lee-Houghton significantly moves us on from any romanticising notion of the ‘mad’ poet driven through suffering to achieve their full genius. Mental suffering is here shown in all its nocturnal and diurnal detail: the nurses, the drugs, the lack of sleep; the disconnect from the yearned-for true self. Beautiful Girls will survive as a testament to poetry’s force in overcoming. (Chris McCabe)

Our price £8.99
RRP £8.99
80 pages
ISBN 9781908058034
Published 5 November 2013
Cover design: Alexandra Gallagher


Half truth, half dare ... this is a collection that's dizzyingly gleeful in all the wrong moments, which is exactly what makes it so right

In this hypnotic and arresting collection Melissa Lee-Houghton holds a mirror to our mouths and teaches us how to breathe so that hurts like hell. Beautiful Girls is challenging writing and as refreshing as rain.
Abegail Morley

These unflinching poems feel as if they wrote themselves and have the compelling quality of a great novel. At times the language becomes rhapsodic, though there is always a lyrical grace and adroitness, and an intense but careful control.
Pascale Petit

Melissa Lee-Houghton is a bold, observant and daringly honest poet who intuitively knows what she is doing, even when she ventures into the scariest places. Her Beautiful Girls come vividly to life, tender, vulnerable, sexy and full of longing, and because she stands in their midst, blessed and cursed with what her mother calls 'a vivid imagination', there are times when reading her work feels, not only like a privilege, but also a secret vice.
Poetry Book Society

There’s freeness and authenticity in Lee-Houghton’s restricted palette of line breaks and arresting phrases. Her poems are letters from the front line.
John Field, Poor Rude Lines

The poems have a painful physicality, vulnerability and a movement towards healing that is always one step further on. There are some extraordinary poems, such as ‘Codeine’, ‘Belly’ and ‘Dimensions’, which define the comfort of body pain and hurt through absence and fear. ‘Erasure’, Lee-Houghton writes, ‘is never complete’ in a chilling riposte to healing. These are exceptional poems.
David Caddy, Tears in the Fence

Riven with sadness and achingly beautiful
Sarah James

About the author

Melissa Lee-Houghton was born in Wythenshawe, Manchester in 1982. Her poetry, short fiction and reviews have been published in literary magazines such as Succour, The Short Review, Magma and Tears in the Fence. Her first collection, A Body Made of You, was published in 2011. She lives in Blackburn, Lancashire.

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