You know, the day of the Forward Prizes in 2014, when I was there with my first-born, I had a cup of tea with another poet who had just become a parent too, and they told me that their editor, a very prominent and respected male poet, had told them not to write about becoming a parent - “allow yourself one or two” he’d said “but any more and it’s just embarrassing”. That story haunted me during my son’s first years although for a long time I felt ashamed rather than angry about it, because I believed it was true. I thought ‘Writing about this is the one thing keeping me alive, and it’s seen as embarrassing?’ Embarrassing! For who? Embarrassing to be a mother and to think about being a mother and to be absorbed by it and shaken by it? Embarrassing to make life, to make a creature with a soul, to have felt life and death move so closely?
- 2014 Forward Prize winner Liz Berry on writing about motherhood, in conversation with Natalya Anderson over at The Poetry Extension. You can read the whole thing here.