The Best Literary Writing About Mothers and Motherhood

Obsession/Addiction – A folio curated by Jennifer Martelli and Cindy Veach

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Obsession/Addiction

 

In her poem, “Mentation,” Devon Balwit writes, “What would it be like to pour anyway, /again and again.” This folio examines the mind caught in obsessive and addictive loops, through the lens of the caregiver. The poetry—gorgeous in its rich language, harsh in its honesty and sadness—is like strong liquor in the belly. Experience the sound and movement in these lines of poetry by Sonia Greenfield:

I used to drink bourbon
and wait for the ice to melt
into the shape of a fetus.
(“The Pull”)

The poems expand beyond the parameters of substance abuse, underscoring the generational pull of obsession. Like Jenna Le’s doll that “mother made….as if in nicotine withdrawal,” in “Doppelgangers,” the obsession is genetic, passed down. As parents, as siblings, as adult children, the poets lay bare the emotional cost of toxic repetition, co-dependency, and relief-seeking. There is an urgency to the poems, a physicality in their movements. In Karen Rile’s poem, “Running Along the Schuylkill,” the mother tries to keep up with the daughter, “I accelerate past the ache/bubbling in my ribs.”

Entwined in the DNA helix of obsession is longing and sadness. These poems, in all their beauty, acknowledge, name, and recognize the lineage of grief. Rachel Barton in “Every Day the Same Wish,” entreats, “Let this worn down sadness escape,” and Theresa Senato Edwards counters,

it’s when organized cells follow through
to next generations—
the looking for rewards
habits too difficult to dispel

it’s sadness—

( “Explaining Heredity to the Youngest Sister”)

What an honor it was to curate this genuinely holy tribute to a very human, very ancient malady! We thank the poets who allowed us to showcase their work. We hope you find joy and relief in this folio.

Thank you! Cindy and Jenn

 

Featured Poets

Devon Balwit
Karen Rile
Rachel Barton
Sonia Greenfield
Jenna Lê
Theresa Senato Edwards

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