A new review of ‘Unable Mother‘ by Victoria Richards, has been published in ‘Arfur’ this month.
Reviewing Helen Calcutt’s glorious collection, Unable Mother, feels a little like reading the diary of a close friend, a letter to myself, or the delicate and kaleidoscopic thoughts of the many women I’ve walked, talked and cried with since we were bonded by one single, cataclysmic event – birth. And this, too, is a birth. Unable Mother is an unfinished poem, the author tells us, whose trace threads through the whole collection.
The physical act of birth is savage and haunting in ‘White almond’ – the pain of the body “widening at the shoulders, a consistency of skins”, the biting body words of “sweat” and “cunt” and “coccyx flung wide open”. The final, transition phase of labour “stings” and “pulses” and I felt my heart racing along with the stanzas as I remembered the vividity of the burning (“I throw my arms to the sun”), the unalterable change (“my twenty-odd years fall away with old lungs”), the “apex”, the “everywhere white”. That “old way-of-doing-things heart” is scarred forever. And yet, I found myself returning again and again to the start of the poem: “We fit near perfect.”’
You can read full review here
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