Review — Fan-Poetry/Fic: Who Is Mary Sue?

Sophie Collins, Who Is Mary Sue? (Faber £10.99)

“- Your breath smells like peaches.

– Can you give me something for the pain?” — from ‘Eight Phrases’

Who Is Mary Sue? is haunted by countless figures; a nameless female writer; the eponymous O from Réage’s Story of O, ‘Mary Sue’ herself, even nothingness (in the plenty blank pages that abound, poor trees) to name a few. The book, Collins’ debut, features poems ranging from minute lyrics, extensive prose poems to found poems/reportage lifted from interviews. The spine of the text lies in the ways Collins grapples with the term ‘Mary Sue’, I quote:

“Coined by Paula Smith in 1973, ’Mary Sue’ is a pejorative term used by writers and readers of fan fiction to describe protagonists who are believed to be thinly disguised versions of the fan fic author’s idealised self.

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