The Best Literary Writing About Mothers and Motherhood

Onamotopoeia by Margie Shaheed

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Shaheed Onomat Cover (2)Review by Lorraine Currelley


– I became a passenger on a journey of exploding colors, passion and emotions. Stopping to digest and to breathe in familiar experiences and images. Margie Shaheed’s poems and stories pull at you, demanding your full attention. Her poems and stories are filled with historical references and memory. She writes passionately about family, love, joy, societal ills and injustice. She does not write comfortable poems and stories. If you’re looking for a skip through the tulips book, Onomatopoeia is not your book. She captures authentic pictures of everyday urban life, its neighborhoods and people. A life she knows well. While reading Onomatopoeia I felt as though I were reading about my experiences. She never makes attempts to impress her audience with the mastery of her phrasing and imagery, she just writes. This is evident in the flow of her words and language. Her writing voice is clear and accessible to all. She writes with the fervor of a social and historical anthropologist, one documenting and capturing everyday life for generations to come.

“Catching the Bus #3” is a riveting account of being a passenger on a city bus and police officers board. It’s not just a boarding. It’s more of an occupation, a hunt. She writes,

The bus turns into a waiting room as they disband and start checking the tickets of each individual person on the bus looking for proof he or she has paid. I learn from the woman sitting next to me that only on this line do the transit police routinely board the bus at random stops trying to catch stowaways. I take my ticket out of my pocket for inspection. If you’re caught without a paid ticket you’re pulled off of the bus and your ID us checked, and if you don’t have an outstanding warrant, you’re given a ticket and fined. Those who have warrants are arrested on the spot and taken to jail. When it comes time for one of the cops to inspect my ticket I hold it out in plain view; he bends his body over towards me to get a good look at it and says “You’re ok.” I think to myself, no I’m not really ok because I’m disturbed and consider this to be a particularly harsh tactic for catching fare-jumpers. This morning they find no stowaways. Empty-handed they leave the bus. I hear the bus motor accelerate as it continues on its route and I think to myself what a way to start your day.

In her poem “Men at Work” she writes in stanza four,

Just finished watching the 100th episode
of Criminal Minds and for the 100th time
women are hunted, prey for men, for serial killers
The “unsub”, after unspeakable torture, gut women like fish
This is a storyline Hollywood repeats
I wonder to myself.
Who are the writers of these gruesome tales?
They must hate their mothers
They must want her dead so desperately
they kill her night, after night, after night, after-

“American Wildfire: Ferguson, Missouri” is a painful poem to read. It stabs at your core, the repeated murders of Black mothers’ sons. The unending acts of terror. You become angry, wanting revenge. Are White mothers’ sons and daughters the only children worth protecting? History parades itself before your eyes; each murdered child and you cannot imagine this unbearable mother pain.

Smoke still crawling from smoldering body
sun-scorched prayers release thunder storm hail
protest is Mother-justice is Murderer-
dragged from back woods pursued thru city streets
cameras stunned

Margie Shaheed’s Onomatopoeia can be purchased directly from

Onomatopoeia by Margie Shaheed
NightBallet Press

Lorraine Currelley is a poet, writer, educator, Pearls of Wisdom Storyteller, mental health and grief and bereavement counselor. She’s the Founder/Executive Director of Poets Network & Exchange, Inc, a safe, positive and supportive space for poets and writers at all levels.; where she facilitates poetry and creative writing workshops, produces featured poetry readings, literary events, open mics and a scholar lecture series. She’s the recipient of S.P.A.R.C. (Seniors Partnering with the Arts Citywide Residency Grant 2014) and the 2015 NYPL Arts for A Lifetime Residency Grant.
BOOK REVIEW: Onomatopoeia by Margie Shaheed. Review by Lorraine Currelley
Tuesday, March 31, 2015


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