Guardian Opinions – don’t hide your grief from your children


My new op-ed piece for The Guardian on grief, and parenthood. Here’s a snippet, and you can read the rest here:

The morning I discovered my brother Matthew had died, there was no hiding it. The shock sent me into a volatile state. I threw the phone against the wall, shattering it, then hurled myself into the front room of the house, banging the doors and walls and weeping, while my daughter sat listening at the top of the stairs. Hours later we were at my parents’ house, where everyone in the family had gathered, and over the next 48 hours, she experienced all the sights and sounds of our collective and profound loss.

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

Purchase your copy of Unable Mother at any of these outlets:

PBS Website:

V. Press:



# Permanent link to Unable Mother – review