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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


'Bug' and 'Figure,' The London Magazine

'Middle,' The Rialto

'Organ' and 'Stem,' The Oxonian Review

'Prize' and 'Rings,' The Adroit Journal

'View,' Oxford Brookes Poetry Centre, Weekly Poems


'Gate Control,' Best New Poets 2020

'Venus Victrix,' winner of the 2020 York Poetry Prize

'Re-branding,' winner of the 2019 Troubadour International Poetry Prize

'Fortress,' runner-up in the Poetry Book Society's 2019 Women's Poetry Prize

'Self-possession,' Up the Staircase Quarterly

'Solatium,' The Academy of American Poets

'Redeployment,' The Atlantic

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