When a parent is poet, the child becomes a muse--often wondrous, sometimes terrifying. This anthology explores the vast emotional landscape of parenting, from the serenity of innocent naps to the howling anguish of early deaths. Here are poetic mothers and fathers (and children), across cultures both ancient and modern, trying to make sense--and art--from the sublime mystery and relentless grind of living with children.
Never has there been a collection that so honestly speaks to the parents' perspective, where moments of tenderness--such as a father abandoning "the most divinely inspired poem" to feed his son--have their counterpoints:
--a nursing mother-poet, who has not slept in 400 nights, going "gradually mad" or --a mother's realization that her daughter would "drive nails into my tongue"
Remember those older friends we used to envy,
brilliant and glittering with beauty,
Who refused to have children,
not about to sacrifice their careers;
Who refused the mess, the entrapment,
as we toiled over chores and homework,
worried about measles and money--
Have you seen them lately?
They no longer converse in sparkling cadenzas.
They are obsessed with their little dog
who piddles on the Oriental rug,
who throws up on the bedspread...
They way they caress him makes you fairly ill;
the way they call him, "Baby."
from "Children" by Carolyn Kizer
Michael Wiegers is the managing editor at Copper Canyon Press. His most recent anthology is Reversible Monuments: Contemporary Mexican Poetry (Copper Canyon, 2002), co-edited with Monica de la Torre.
Ho Xuan Huong
The inaugural volume in the Copper Canyon Press Back to Books Series