A Kind of Housecoat: Poetry and Motherhood



You would think that becoming a parent would be one of the great poetic subjects.  To contemplate the making of a human being is to grapple with meaning and mortality: you are forced to think about the spirit and the flesh.  There is pain and fear and risk and love and transformation and joy.  It is political, and makes you think about the arbitrariness of privilege and the future of the planet.  As a topic it seems to me to touch on, well, everything important really.  And yet, bizarrely, poetry about parenthood is still seen to be somehow minor, petty, ‘domestic’.  I have heard very well respected male poets observe that they don’t really care for ‘motherhood’ poems (try imagining them saying the same for love poems or war poems and see how odd it sounds).  I have also heard brilliant female poets apologizing for writing about their children (‘don’t…

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