Sarah Potter Writes

Pursued by the Muses of prose and poetry

Review: Christy Birmingham’s Poetry Collection “Versions of The Self”


Versions of the Self

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Imagine a shift to the way you see the world that arises through poetic narration. Imagine the world, at its base level, is a collection of selves. These selves collide, disperse, intermingle, and share themselves in lines of free verse. Such is the premise of Versions of the Self, poetry that assumes multiple types of selves exist and relate in ways that alter them. Each of the eight chapters looks at a different type of self, including the singular “I” and romantic interactions. These unique 80 poems definitely color themselves outside of the lines.


Christy Birmingham has written her poetry collection Versions of The Self from the first-person viewpoint because it’s about her personal journey. At first I found the constant use of the word “I” off-putting, but my initial reaction fast metamorphosed into feeling privileged, as a reader, to share in Christy’s honest account of putting herself back together, having had a relationship with someone who did his best to destroy her.

She tells of her deep love for this man and his gradual undermining of her confidence through mind-games and abuse, before leaving her for another woman. The form of manipulation she describes him inflicting upon her, is an archetypical use of what psychologists call “gaslighting”, in which the perpetrator’s tactics of manipulation ultimately cause the victim to no longer trust her own judgment. In fact, Christy does have a BA in Psychology and it’s possible that her area of study has retrospectively contributed towards her ability to express in words her traumatic experience.

What follows is an account of a woman lying in fragments, who must somehow learn to see herself as a whole person again and think herself worthy of love, or able to trust another to give of her love to him. It makes incredibly emotive reading, as she makes a detailed examination of the fragments, draws them together, starts to trust her own judgment, and rediscovers joy. It’s a redefining of her as a person, as she comes to accept that she cannot undo her experiences or lose the memory of them, but she can learn to move on beyond them and be a valid human being, with so much to give to the world. In fact, what I loved about Christy’s account was that not for a moment did she wallow in self-pity. Often, I wanted to give her a big hug and say “you are so, so brave. Go for it, gal!”

This poetry collection makes such an emotive read and would speak volumes to people who have or still are experiencing what Christy describes. I loved the way the writing flowed along in free verse with such forward momentum, occasionally pausing on its journey for detailed contemplation of a tiny detail. Christy has such a unique way of organising words and a fresh way of describing exactly what she means, but from a lateral slant.

A highly recommended read.


Connect with Christy at her wonderful blog Poetic Parfait.

And on social media…

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Versions of The Self (kindle & paperback) is available at
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33 thoughts on “Review: Christy Birmingham’s Poetry Collection “Versions of The Self”

  1. A wonderful review for a wonderful person. Thank you for this, and may 2017 be your best year of writing to date.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I agree that Christy is a wonderful person. And thank you for your good wishes re my writing in 2017. I feel the need to start a brand new project, before the slog of marketing kills off my creative muse totally. I hope you have a wonderful writing year, too.


  2. Reblogged this on Poetic Parfait and commented:
    A new review for “Versions of the Self” has lit up my day! Thank you to Sarah Potter for the 5 star review, words of encouragement, and detailed account of my book.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Your thoughtful review has me smiling wide, Sarah. May 2017 be an amazing year for you!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Wonderful. I love seeing people smiling wide. As far as 2017 being an amazing year, I think we all need that. The world this year has felt rather iffy and turbulent. It has made me want to hibernate. What’s important is to create little pockets of creativity and love around the globe and work towards a better future. Wishing you lots of wonderful things, Christy, for the coming year 🙂 xox

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Pingback: Review: Christy Birmingham’s Poetry Collection “Versions of The Self” – Inspire For A Better Life

  5. Sarah, you gave a beautiful review of Christy’s poetry book. I appreciate that you had to adjust to reading her first person account set into poetry form. It would mean a lot to someone who has gone through the similar emotional path, which Christy shared.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Great review Sarah, thoughtful and passionate. I have Christy’s book to read and this makes me look forward to it more!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. This is awesome stuff, Christy and Sarah! What a wonderful review and any friend of Christy’s is a friend of mine. 🙂
    Happy New Year!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Christy, this is an exceptional review. You are a unique and wonderful person!! ❤

    Liked by 2 people

  9. A wonderful review of a book I love. I bought her first book on Kindle. Nothing but hard copies from “Versions of The Self” on!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Resa. Kindle is great for checking out new authors, before committing to buying a paperback. Christy’s poetry should certainly take honour of place on what I call a “real” bookshelf (though some eBook fans will slay me for saying this!). Christy’s poetry is so multi-layered and deep that it’s worthy of re-reading time and time again.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. This is a great review. As I commented on Christy’s site, I have never reviewed a book of poetry, but her book sounds wonderful. I’d love to press this post, and publish it on my site, with your permission. I do a little intro to you and your blog as well as one of Christy’s.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Grandtrines on said:

    Reblogged this on Orthometry.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. A wonderful review for a wonderful book of poetry. Well done, and a Happy New Year for both of you!

    Liked by 2 people

  13. A wonderful review and one that certainly inspires me to read Christy’s book. Christy is a lovely person, and a warm-hearted and generous blogger. She deserves every success with her heartfelt book. Thank you, Sarah for the great review.

    Liked by 2 people

  14. It must feel great Christy to have such great review from an excellent writer!

    Liked by 2 people

  15. I am close to tears, happy tears, as I read all of these comments. Thank you everyone, for the support and love that really helps me keep moving forward. Sarah, you hold a special place in my heart xx

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dearest Christy, I can see the sea level rising with your happy tears 😉 You’re very sweet. I’m so glad that you have so many wonderful, well-deserved comments from people. Love and support is so important when it comes to keeping moving forward xx

      Liked by 1 person

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