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MAMA LIKES

Blog Book Tour: Literary Mama
posted by Amy

There's a bookshelf in my small, sunny yellow home office—my new room of my own, yes!—that I turn to nearly every day. I look up quotes, check facts, and comfort myself with the words of other mothers. Among the many volumes are MotherSongs: Poems for, by, and about Mothers (edited by Sandra M. Gilbert, Susan Gubar, and Diana O'Hehir), which I bought when I was pregnant with Henry, and I Hear My Sisters Saying: Poems by Twentieth-Century Women (edited by Carol Konek and Dorothy Walters), a book I grew up reading after spying it on my mother's bookshelf shortly after she bought it in the late 1970s. Other books from that period include Jane Lazarre's The Mother Knot and, of course, Adrienne Rich's Of Woman Born. (Erma Bombeck and Jean Kerr, two of my childhood favorites, are also up there. I know; I was a strange child. I've apparently been preparing for mamazine.com my whole freaking life.)

There's a whole pile of newer books by Andi Buchanan, Miriam Peskowitz, Ann Crittenden, Rachel Cusk, Marion Winik, Marrit Ingman, Faulkner Fox, Catherine Newman, Ariel Gore, and many others that goes on that shelf, too. These get lent out on a regular basis to my mama friends—and I often move a book over to Chip's books-to-read shelf if I think he might want to read it. The newest book on my mother-writers shelf is one I'll be pressing others to read for sure: Literary Mama: Reading for the Maternally Inclined, the new anthology from LiteraryMama.com editors Andi Buchanan and Amy Hudock.

There is much to love in this book, just as there is on the website. I especially enjoyed Nicole Cooley's "Thirteen Ways of Looking at Being a Mother and a Poet," with these lines, "My daughter forced me out of myself, demanded that I live in the world, and made me pay attention, and yet at the same time, she made me look more deeply inward than I ever had before."

Reading "Sanctuary" by Peggy Hong reminded me of my own first trip to the dentist after having kids. Reading magazines in the waiting room, lying down in the chair in a quiet office while someone took care of me for a change—I'm still amazed at how much I enjoyed getting my teeth cleaned when I had very young kids. Hong writes, "The more I rush the more they balk. The oldest refuses to put her shoes on, the youngest will not stop nursing, his teeth clamping down on me. The middle child is still sitting on the toilet, waiting for a wipe." Reading that took me right back to a place I thought I'd never forget.

Lines from the contributions from Meagan Francis, Lizbeth Finn-Arnold, Amy Hudock and Heidi Raykeil also stuck with me after I closed the book, and the introduction by Andi Buchanan and Amy Hudock, which I've already written about a little here, is a wonderful introduction to the themes and issues related to writers who focus on their experiences of motherhood.