Motherhood happened to me relatively late in life. I was 38 when I crossed that threshold where one body becomes two and the transformation from having a mother to being a mother takes place. From one moment to the next my life was unrecognisable, I was unrecognisable.
I’ve written about the experience extensively, from my poem ‘Beheaded’, downloadable below, which explores (quite viscerally, so, trigger warning) the instant amputation of self I experienced, and others, such as ‘Baby Group’, also downloadable below, where I marvel at and admire my fellow travellers, through to my novel Larchfield which gets inside the mind of an alienated new mother and finds there… poetry. I also wrote about it for the Guardian here. Words were what brought me back to myself, and helped me integrate my new existence with my previous one, and find ways to name the intense feelings I had, my love, fear, joy. At the same time, writing as an activity also transformed into, variously, a gargantuan task, a distant memory, an urgent life-saving measure, an act of love, a passionate effort to connect. As time goes on I feel writing to be very much a way of creating life. Imagination’s force is very close to reproductive force. Poems, novels, children: all are passionate attempts to find hope for the future in a world whose hostility and nihilism can easily make us turn away from creating anything at all.
In this event for Felixtowe Book Festival, I am in conversation with Ana Sampson, the editor of Night Feeds and Morning Songs — the wonderful anthology of poems about motherhood. Click on the photo above to buy. It features poems about all the stages and phases, by contemporary writers such as Liz Berry, Carol Ann Duffy, Jackie Kay, Carolyn Jess Cooke, and also brings us poems and poets from the past. As Ana found when she was compiling the book, motherhood is a subject very much neglected until recently. It wasn’t considered suitable for serious literature, and also there is the hard fact, brought home to many mothers over lockdown, that the work of motherhood consumes time like nothing else and we can be certain that many poems on the subject were never written because of the subject. Ana compiled the anthology during lockdown, whilst home schooling two children and working full time, so she was up close and personal with the gnarly aspects of motherhood. We will be talking about this, as well as the joys, and the consolation and sense of community that poetry brought her.
This event is interactive, which means we can field texted questions as we go. This is a wonderful way for the audience to avoid the fear of speaking up in a room, and enjoy contributing to the discussion! Do join us. It’s going to be wonderful. FOR TICKETS CLICK BELOW.