Saturday, 23 August 2014

Mom Poems

Amanda Jernigan shares her thoughts about motherhood as an inspiration:
I have a two-year-old, and another child on the way. Given the proliferation of mombooks on the market, you might think motherhood an exhausted subject—for books, if not for poetry. But if you think about the poems that have come down to us in English, the great body of them are written by men (in the fifth ed. of The Norton Anthology of Poetry—the table of contents of which represents decades of scholarly excavation, to retrieve the works of female poets—still only a fifth of the poems are by women). This is not to say there have not been great poems of motherhood, written by both men and women. But I feel that there are many unexplored possibilities here, still, both thematic and formal. (It is tempting to say, ‘The great poem of motherhood has yet to be written.’ But that’s really just a pep-talk to myself. And, lately I’ve been wondering if in fact the great poem of motherhood has been written, and it’s Janet Lewis’s ‘A Lullaby’.) I was reading recently Dan Chiasson’s review of new work by the American poet Rachel Zucker, in The New Yorker. He talks about her work as that rare thing, a poetry of motherhood that gives the effect of having been actually ‘written … under the conditions it describes.’ I’m still not often able to write under the conditions of early motherhood, all-consuming as it is: there just isn’t the time to work up an idea, often, even when the idea is there. Which often, it isn’t: so much of early motherhood is averbal. One tends to think in ways that are other than linguistic. But, then, great poems are made as much out of silence as they are out of speech, and I tell myself that the way to new poems is to immerse myself more deeply in this seeming interruption, rather than to bridle at it.
(Photograph by John Haney.) 

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