Carolyn Jess-Cooke has kindly reviewed my book and is also giving away a copy. Just comment on her web post or tweet: Read the full review here
“The significance of this book as a work of art, however, is in its reclamation of history from the female perspective. That the poems themselves are brilliant, almost all of them adroitly executed, makes me want to stand up and give the book a round of applause. There is mastery here, boldness, and a lively assertion of what poetry can give to the historical imagination. This is a book that deserves widespread acclaim.”
Jessica Birch has also reviewed the book in The Next Review
“If our national history can be described as at least to be sluiced in blood, then Stacey has used the red element startlingly, superbly in this book…The liquids stink and soil in equal measure, and the near-erotic thrill of attendant, queenly, ambition. It’s a real strength of this book that there is no slow historical development of these women’s awareness that they could rule alone, that they could attain power: no, from the start this is a committedly feminist book….
I salute the publishing house that allows a poet’s debut to be this damn ambitious and this damn unapologetic.”
Carolyn Jess-Cooke has written some of my very favourite poems about motherhood. I read her book Boom! published by Seren, and all I kept thinking was: that is exactly how I feel about it. Such authentic, clever writing. Carolyn is a writer who, I think, captures something very universal about motherhood and mothering and she expresses it in such beautiful lines. Boom! is a very honest book and looks at parenting from different perspectives, including the lows as well as the highs.
From the title poem Boom!
There was this baby who thought she was a hand grenade.
She appeared one day in the centre of our marriage
– or at least in the spot where all the elements of our union
appeared to orbit
and kept threatening to explode, emitting endless alarm-sounds
that were difficult to decode.
It captures the explosive nature of having a baby; everything you knew is blown apart and re-made into something that contains this new person. I urge anyone looking for a book about motherhood to buy Boom!
Carolyn is also undertaking an important project at the moment on her blog. It is called Voicing Shadows, Singing Light and ‘it is a blog series designed to tear down barriers of silence that perpetuate suffering and deadly last resorts.’
Carolyn writes: ‘Mental illness affects all of us. More than a third of the population of Europe is affected by mental illness every year, with depression now recognised as Europe’s leading chronic condition. Mental illness is strongly linked to suicide; according to the World Health Organization, by the time you have finished reading this paragraph at least one person will have committed suicide.’
After putting out a call on Facebook and Twitter for poems ‘ that articulate some aspect of mental illness – whether as sufferer, survivor, carer or friend’ Carolyn has arranged them into a series of 7 posts. Today is day 3 and features one of my poems called Dark Thoughts, Lately. I am grateful to be included amongst such excellent poets. So far each post has been full of breathtaking poems that articulate different aspects of depression. I keep re-reading them because it is comforting to know you are not alone with the black dog, as it sleeps just outside the door, waiting.
Ledbury starts this Friday! Those words may mean nothing to most people, but to a certain type of person they cause a shiver of excitement and expectation. The kind of people who spend hours debating a line break or think that reading a thesaurus is a treat. Poets.
I am reading from my new pamphlet on Saturday, but before that I am chairing an event called Writing Motherhood. I was excited to be asked to do this because it is something that I can relate to as I have three children of my own and I have often had to fit my writing in around my role as a mother.
The three poets who will be reading their work and debating the issues around the subject are Hollie McNish, Carolyn Jess-Cooke and Rebecca Goss. I have been thinking about it a lot, as I write poem edits whilst waiting at gym class for my daughter or make notes on the edge of my child’s old spelling practise. For me, writing and motherhood is intertwined and cannot be separated easily. It’s not easy being a mother who writes: two occupations that are equally time consuming and require me to be focused. I wouldn’t have it any other way though! I am looking forward to listening to the conversation that is generated about women who write and have children. How do they find the time? Does it make them a better writer? Or does it hamper them and stop them from achieving what they want? After I had the children time suddenly became very finite and precious so when I had a moment I would use it to write with a burning intensity, aware that I didn’t have long before I had to focus on the children. Come along and join the conversation on Saturday.
Saturday, 5th July
11:00 am – 12:00 pm
Does becoming a mother affect your creative life? Does a child ‘cost’ a female writer four books or profit her writing? Poets discuss the various ways that motherhood has influenced their writing, and perform newly commissioned work in response to the social and political dimensions in which motherhood operates.