From the Micro-Reviews section of Canadian Poetries:
By nature, I’m drawn to mother narratives that aren’t sentimental. Those that don’t claim that people like me who don’t have children are somehow less than those who do. Parenthood has always had this rarified quality about it: witness the fuss over the new Royal Ball of Fat. The screaming headlines would have us believe that Princess Kate is the first woman on earth to ever give birth. On soap operas, children are born after seven minutes of labour, perfectly clean and with no umbilical cords to cut.
It becomes maddening, overwhelming. Enter Ariel Gordon and her largely unromantic text about pregnancy and motherhood. Normally, books on this topic don’t appeal to me but Gordon’s book is rooted in the earth, in the day-to-day discomfort (and yes joy) of pregnancy and early motherhood. There is fungus here (Gordon is an avid mushroom-hunter), frogs “busy with wet/dreams”, and the decidedly unglorious moments of housing a growing belly: “How I’ve started to grunt/when I lever myself out of the bath.”
Given her defamiliarization of pregnancy, I’m constantly struck dumb and joyous by the way poetry creeps in to elevate the grunting, the fungus, the frogs:
“My belly button has become a third eye winking
from beneath shirts riding up, pants slung low
my belly button is my keeled-over canary
my abandoned mine shaft, while you sputter
turn over several times daily
like any old engine.”
Gordon’s metaphors are often raw, yet exactly right. “You squawk, a plucked thing on a spit”: that plucked thing having come from “the bruised pear between [her] legs”.
“The miracle of birth? Ha!”
The beauty of this collection is the love of the mother for her child, that relationship that the childfree will never experience. But the beauty is hidden slyly in the gorgeous lines that free themselves when needed from the details of the grime, the blood, the leaking breasts, and the mundane sleeplessness of parenting—turned poetry."
— review by Kimmy Beach
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Many thanks to Canadian Poetry, Shawna Lemay and Kimmy for this review!
Which is to say: Yay! Hump's third review!