a period of silence

“The reality is that until the 20th century few poets had been mothers. I suppose Elizabeth Barrett Browning is an exception, but she had her first and only child at age 43, and was already an established poet. For many women, the years of early marriage and motherhood are a period of silence—a stretch of time where any sense of intellectual life is nearly impossible.” Kate Hanson Foster

Foster’s book of poems, Mid Drift, is one of my favorites. The article from which this quote is derived is one on writing through postpartum depression, a topic all on its own, but what caught my attention was her thoughts on motherhood in writing. its on the heels of reading some article somewhere or other about how you can only Really be a writer and a mother if you make sure your children know darn well that you love your poetry way more than you love them and they better hush up while you write (paraphrasing here). the main point of that article was that great poetry can Not be written in scraps of time, that a great poet must dedicate more, even all, of themselves to writing their Great Poetry.

i’m working on a third manuscript and i won’t say its easy to write while caring for and homeschooling my three girls, ages 5 and down (and teaching online too, in my spare time, right?), but the writing isn’t impossible. i can’t say whether or not it is great–sometimes i think my poems approach “good” or even touch at the borders of “very good” and, at the very least, satisfy me with how complete and true they feel.

there are some things that i do just find impossible (some good things that i enjoy). i can’t work outside the home right now and be the mother i want to be. i can’t work for a literary magazine or write for hours everyday or do any freelance editing. i can’t (usually) find time to write blog posts like this one. but the thing about poetry is that it isn’t really on a time table like childhood is. these might be my “silent” years as a poet, but i suspect that i’m not done writing poetry entirely yet.


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