Thursday, June 11, 2009

"Does motherhood ruin poetry?"

Such was the question posed on the Poetry Foundation's Web site yesterday along with a link to a feature on writing and motherhood by Geeta Sharma-Jensen from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. In the article, titled "Kids change world of writer moms," she talks to several writers of poetry and/or fiction about how becoming mothers affected their writing. Not surprisingly, all of the women in the article said that having kids turned their world upside down, but not necessarily in bad ways.

Take writer Alice Mattison, for example: "...pregnancy and motherhood affected her creativity in other ways. Children, with their undisciplined sense of humor, their strong feelings, their fresh way of seeing the world, gave her imagination permission to go anyplace." (Mattison discusses her experience as a writer and mother in greater detail in her essay "Drowning the Children: To a Writer, Interruptions are Life.")

That reminds me of a scene from Anne Lamott's book Operating Instructions: A Journal of My Son's First Year, a book I have loved for a long time. Lamott recalls a time when Sam, her little boy, looks up into the sky at night and says, "It smells like moon." It's the perfect description for what the night air smells like, but one that only could have come from the mind of a child.

That's kind of what I'm hoping motherhood will be like for me. That my time to write will be limited, but maybe more focused (I've always worked well with deadlines) and that my son will teach me things that otherwise would have been lost on me.

Oh, and proving, once again, that poetry and monkeys are never far removed, on the same day the motherhood and poetry headline appeared, the Poetry Foundation also included this: "Gorilla guy takes over for poet as new UK children's laureate."


Marinela said...

Meaningful article,thanks for sharing:)

zrusilla said...

The writer of that Poetry Foundation headline revealed a rather ugly prejudice. Women's lives are seen as interfering with important matters, not as important matters unto themselves.