The Best Literary Writing About Mothers and Motherhood

Books for Review


Mom Egg Review Books for Review – Jan. 2020

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Poetry Chapbooks

Sex and Other Slapsticks by Ellaraine Lockie Poetry Chapbook. Ellaraine Lockie’s latest poetry collection, Sex and Other Slapsticks, is a journey of discovery and rediscovery. It is a production of every-day drama of the ordinary made extraordinary, interlaced with wry humor. This is an itinerary of geographics of body and place with many surprising twists and turns.

Poetry (full-length)

Poet Duet – A Mother & Daughter by Florence Adams Clark and Carolyn Clark (Kelsay Books, 2099). “They flow off each other…touching on themes of reflection on the enormity of simple moments and the gratitude for life and loved ones, with both gentleness and intensity.” Lauren Reynolds.

The Fuss and the Fury by Marion Cohen (Alien Buddha Press). Poetry. This collection is about the approximately seven years after the birth of her youngest baby, and is intended as a description of the ecstasies and Angsts of that post-partum experience. Devin’s birth was special in several ways: first, she was over 40 with a 16-year-old daughter; second, the baby’s father was 8 years into his multiple sclerosis diagnosis and had been a wheelchair user when the baby was conceived; third, Devin was the “second subsequent child”, meaning he was the second child to be born after a devastating pregnancy loss.

Frozen Charlotte by Susan de Sola – (Able Muse Press, 2019) The title poem refers to a ceramic doll with was a popular toy for children in the 19th-century. I am myself the mother of 5 children, so the subject of maternity threads through the book.  The book deals with many aspects of maternal experience–from being a daughter looking through her war widow mother’s cedar closet, to losing an infant, to visiting the grave of a little boy who passed away decades before, to the experience of raising twins, to the inventory of a teenage son’s dresser top.

Audubon’s Sparrow by Juditha Dowd ( Rose Metal Press). What does it mean to sacrifice for someone else’s art? Audubon’s Sparrow answers this question by way of a verse biography of Lucy Bakewell, the intrepid and largely unsung wife of the artist and naturalist John James Audubon. Set in the early decades of the 19th century, an era of dramatic growth and expansion in America, the book follows Lucy and John James as they fall in love, marry, and set off to make a life on the western frontier. Juditha Dowd weaves together lyric poems, imagined letters, and diary entries in Lucy’s voice with excerpts from Audubon’s journals and published works (which many believe Lucy helped to write and edit) to offer an intimate exploration of the thoughts of a young wife and mother.

Why I Never Finished My Dissertation by Laura Foley (Headmistress Press 2019) This collection’s title perfectly evokes Foley’s sly, dry, often self-implicating sense of humor, as well as the propensity for distraction, adventure—and independence—appraising, and subverting societal expectations. We begin with mindful presence and mystery, then flashback to the speaker’s childhood, early motherhood, and previous marriages, one as a teenager to a Moroccan Muslim, then to a professor forty years her senior, father of her three children. She navigates caring for her special-needs daughter and mentally ill sister; and she and her beloved wife become grandmothers, just as politics and citizenship become personal.

Twilight Chorus by Holly Guran (Main St. Rag, May 2018). Holly Guran’s poems expose a remarkable thoughtfulness and care for what takes place in nature, and for what takes place with others:  whether the homeless man, the child affected by war, the aging partner, the neighbor, the friend.

Birthdays Before and After by Puma Perl (Beyond Baroque Books 2019) “To the edgy, illustrious ranks of poets like Diane DiPrima and Charles Bukowski, let us now add the fearless, delirious genius of Puma Perl. Long a cult legend and staple of the Lower East Side poetry scene, with “Birthdays Before and After,” she steps forward and cements her place as 21st Century visionary and unsparing chronicler of the human condition…”

Prime Meridian by Connie Post (Glass Lyre Press) In “Prime Meridian,” Connie Post’s daring new collection, she writes to “identify/the noises of departure”—those of land engulfed by natural disaster, of family dissolution by abuse, of retreats to safety in the face of suffering. More importantly, these poems teach us conservation: “we find graceful ways/to slides out of a room/step over a fractured equator/“—holding things dear in the face of such violation. Remedies come in language: the grammar of ritual, ceremony, and resistance. This is a poetry of incantation against the darkest and most secret types of human depredation and hymns of recovery—all spoken in assured and inventive measure. –Maxine Chernoff

In Relation to the Surface by M.B. Powell (Kelsay Books, 2019). “In Relation to the Surface is a collection that highlights quiet female struggles beneath cool exteriors.  Girls and women populate these poems—Shirley Temple, Ovid’s Daphne, Mrs. America, widows, and dolls with ‘their hard little eyes.’”   —Paige Riehl, author of Suspension (Terrapin Books, 2018), Poetry Editor of Midway Journal

Patterns: Moments in Time by Carol Smallwood (Word Poetry).  “We do not remember days; we remember moments” Anonymous. This, along with Amy Lowell’s, “What are patterns for?” have come together in this poetry collection—connecting dots of moments and patterns through free verse and formal poetry.

Fool by Judy Swann (Kelsay Books, 2019). (These poems) … concern the poetics and politics of labor — both the workday kind and the childbirth kind — and negotiations with the body, the past, men, moons, and muses.

Counting by Sevens by Ann Wallace, Main St. Rag 2019 In Counting by Sevens I reflect on the overlay of embodied experiences of illness, mothering, teaching, and the everyday realities and traumas of living in the United States today. Divided into three sections, the collection begins with intimate responses to the pains and wounds of our nation, then shifts to a meditative, often joyful, interlude on girlhood and motherhood, and concludes with a series of poems that probe into what it feels like to live with and through diseases—ovarian cancer in my twenties, and multiple sclerosis in the past decade–that overwhelm at times and slip from notice at others.





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