From the first poem in Michaela Coplen’s pamphlet, ‘the mind begins this squeaking’ — an urgent impulse that never stops. Finishing School charts a young woman’s growth through an abecedarian form, each poem a letter of the alphabet that marks a different stage of learning. Encountering ‘lessons’ ranging from childhood dress-up games, to instances of intimacy, academic interviews, and funeral planning, the subject navigates an education in womanhood and power — developing her own understandings of vulnerability, ambition, escape.
“Michaela Coplen’s chapbook, Finishing School, is a brilliant debut. This captivating abecedarian cycle enacts on the page a woman’s coming of age, vibrant in body and in mind. The imagery is lucid, the voice is intimate, restless, alive, Coplen’s lyrics cut to the quick. Here is a poet we will be reading for years to come.”
- Deborah Landau
“Michaela Coplen’s poems are breathtakingly constructed, and equally sophisticated in tone, perception and imaginative depth. Their apparent simplicity — as though written for the child-adolescent at the centre of many of these lyrics — belies a darkly knowing and sometimes-surreal nostalgia. Possessing the idiosyncratic cadences and confidence of a far more experienced poet, Coplen is one of the most exciting new voices I have encountered in recent years. ”
- Kathryn Maris
"In Finishing School Michaela Coplen writes of innocence and experience. The poems have a fascinating psychological depth grounded in everyday objects and scenarios, and it’s this that makes the pamphlet a mature debut. These aren’t just poems about growing up, but creative enquiries into relationships that often have a sinister, shadowy aspect."
- Nell Prince, The Friday Poem
"A fresh, intelligent voice. Like Emily Dickinson, Coplen compresses a lot into a short space... as [she] continues to steer her crafty craft, hers will definitely be a name I look out for."
- Annie Fisher, Sphinx Review
"The kind of poetry that knows how to capture a tracking shot, knows how to be careful of itself... Coplen's pamphlet understands how excruciating it is to be alive as a woman."
- Chloe Elliott, Magma 85