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This review is taken from PN Review 226, Volume 42 Number 2, November - December 2015.

Cover of Go to reception and ask for Sara in red felt tip
Rebecca Varley-WinterEndangered Species HOLLY PESTER, Go to reception and ask for Sara in red felt tip (Book Works) £12

I’m going to
go downstairs in black felt tip
turn right at Lamb Street in black felt tip
go to reception and ask for sara in red felt tip

Created in the archives of the Women’s Art Library, Holly Pester’s Go to reception and ask for Sara in red felt tip uses ‘anecdote as a method to generate […] poetry, critical fictions and literary fragments’. Printed on coloured paper like a giant office notepad, parts of the archive are collaged into subtly comic juxtapositions:

I feel
auspiciously black and female
like an endangered species

Stanzas circle particular words or concepts from different angles, such as ‘work’:

Woman, Worker, Farmer
Women’s Crafts and Work
I worked hard at school… they say I’m neurotic
Women demand the right to work

Femininity becomes a lived environment, populated by repeated touchstones or clichés – craft, witchcraft, work, motherhood, pay, New Age imagery, embroidery, myth, colour – and idiosyncratic buzzwords (‘tart art’, ‘Visual lesbians’). Occasionally the list breaks up, becomes hesitant, as if its speaker is trying to recall an itinerary:

The collapsed blue canopy of heaven
um… er
computers in the office

Ask for Sara also plays with ekphrasis:

Pauline, where should this go?
It’s a photo of a pregnant woman – where should it go?
this photo is of ...

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