Earlier in the year, Demeter Press published Mothers and Sons - an anthology edited by Besi Brillian Muhonja and Wanda Thomas Bernard. They included seven of my poems. I was invited to read at the launch and with the support of the Art's Council of Northern Ireland and The Open University I was able to travel. It was a wonderful experience, and I made so many friends. The reading took place at the Pantages Hotel in Victoria Street Downtown Toronto on 15th October. Chapter 11 is a selection of seven poems that I wrote over many years, but put together in a way that they represented a development of a mother from childhood role-play to menopause. One of the poems is about loss, a Canadian story, told to me by my father. It is about my cousin, Johnny who was into extreme sports and died in the Rocky Mountains.
Two boys in a canoe.
A river. A waterfall. Rocky Mountain.
A community in panic.
Sleepless anguish, silent prayers.
Endless hours of waning hope.
Helicopters hovering in the wind,
Two rangers saw
two boys and a canoe
on the way up-up, playing
They were warned,
what else could you do.
Terry and Johnny,
dancing around the fire,
running with kites memoryless.
Johnny was reckless
the seeker of danger, so restless
faster than the wind.
We dubbed him “The Rocket”.
Our Terry was wise,
talking of nature he smiled
at the empty air over our heads.
carried by the wind.
Two tree trunk bodies
tossed around the river’s algorithm
awe-trapped totems of never-end.
It was very special to read this poem to an audience of Canadian feminist women, many of them mothers, including a few feminist men who might have been fathers.
Demeter Press launched a series of other books at the same time, all about motherhood. Andrea O'Reilly, the publisher and an international champion of motherhood studies, is organising a conference that will take place in July 2017 in Galway. I'm looking forward to that.
"A riveting and provocative collection of narratives, poems, short plays and analysis that lays bare the complexities around motherhood, particularly the relations between mothers and sons. Any reader can find themselves in here. No doubt— a book with a universal appeal! "—Jane Rarieya, African Gender Scholar