The Best Literary Writing About Mothers and Motherhood

Books for Review


Mom Egg Review Books for Review – Jan. 2020

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Poetry (full-length)

Patrice Boyer Claeys, The Machinery of Grace, Poetry (centos) Kelsay Books 2020.

The Machinery of Grace takes the reader on a narrative and lyrical journey through a year of loss and recovery. It explores the nature of life (in that it must end), examines the decline and loss of one person’s life (my mother’s), moves through the process of pain and grief, and depicts the re-emergence into full engagement with life. Beauty, desire and joy return, and with them comes an uplift that could be called humanistic, spiritual or simply coming to terms in the best way. All poems in this collection are centos, and the multiplicity of voices reaffirms the fact that this arc is universal.

Marion Cohen, The Fuss and the Fury, Alien Buddha Press 2019.

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.

Susan de Sola, Frozen Charlotte, 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.

Carol Lynn Stevenson Grellas,  Alice in Ruby Slippers (Kelsay Books, poetry).

Laced with the elegance and spirituality of well-honed traditional and invented forms, Carol Lynn Stevenson Grellas’s new collection Alice in Ruby Slippers is an adult’s romp through the surreal Wonderland we call life. Just as Lewis Carroll’s Alice struggled with the myriad denizens down the rabbit hole, Carol Lynn’s Alice, perhaps Carol herself, navigates a deeply poetic landscape of death —lost, gained, and unrequited love—terminal illness, troubled ancestry, and all that makes this world a place we should simultaneously cherish and fear. Alice in Ruby Slippers is a wonderfully imagistic search for sense in the crumbling ruin of our known world. …—Indigo Moor, Poet Laureate Emeritus, Sacramento, CA

Connie Post, Prime Meridian, Glass Lyre Press, 2020.

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

M.B. Powell, In Relation to the Surface,  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

Carol Smallwood, Patterns: Moments in Time, Word Poetry 2019.

“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.

Judy Swann, Fool, 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.

Ann Wallace, Counting by Sevens,  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.



Margo Orlando Littell, The Distance From Four Points. Fiction Uno Press 2020

Soon after her husband’s tragic death, Robin Besher makes a startling discovery: He had recklessly blown through their entire savings on decrepit rentals in Four Points, the Appalachian town Robin grew up in. Forced to return after decades, Robin and her daughter, Haley, set out to renovate the properties as quickly as possible―before anyone exposes Robin’s secret past as a teenage prostitute. Disaster strikes when Haley befriends a troubled teen mother, hurling Robin back into a past she’d worked so hard to escape. Robin must reshape her idea of home or risk repeating her greatest mistakes. Margo Orlando Littell, author of Each Vagabond by Name, tells an enthralling and nuanced story about family, womanhood, and coming to terms with a left-behind past.




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