Today is Mother's Day for those of us here in the UK, and so we thought an excellent way to mark it and to honour all the different types of motherhood out there would be to offer you our thoughts on Seren Books' 2017 anthology, Writing Motherhood, edited by Carolyn Jess - Cooke.
I don't think I've ever read a collection dedicated entirely to the idea of motherhood and what that means. This is a mixture of poems, essays and interviews with authors. It's organised into sections entitled things like 'Slow Days, Fast Years', 'Mothers and Others' and 'Loss, Absence, Suffering' and although I found it a little slow to start I think it's a really important collection to understand all of the different ways in which motherhood is enacted, and all of the many and varied ways people can related to the word.
Motherhood in literature and in the media can often be reduced down to one aspect - the caregiver, or the failure to give care - and it can be easy to just view motherhood through the lens that we are given, or to focus on the stage in which we or our friends and family find ourselves, but Writing Motherhood doesn't let you do that. Its brilliant contributors walk you through from birth, through miscarriage, tragedy and the frustration of trying to get toddlers to leave the house, all the way to empty nest syndrome and grandchildren. The contributors are varied, from well known writers such as poet laureate Carol Ann Duffy and Holly McNish through to founder of Mother's Milk Books, Teika Bellamy, and many others.
As with any collection some of the pieces in this anthology I found more captivating than others - for example Holly McNish's poem 31 May about the struggle between trying to get out of the house and trying to teach your children to be independent and do things for themselves was one that I strongly related to, and it also confirmed my my thoughts that I'd like to read more of her work.
If you're interested in how motherhood affects creativity for better or worse then this is definitely a collection for you - several essays explore the subject, and Carolyn Jess - Cooke asks each of the people she interviews about how they feel about being asked the question 'how do you find time to write?', a question which she feels male authors aren't generally asked. The responses are varied and very interesting.
If you'd like to read a collection that will make you think about motherhood and what it can mean, or are looking for a way to get into poetry then I urge you to head over to Seren's website and pick up a copy of Writing Motherhood.
Happy Mother's Day everyone. If it's a hard day for you, remember to take time to take care of yourself.