Our Mothers, Our Selves

Overview

Finally, we have an inclusive collection that brings motherhood into the fold of feminism. As we accede to our universal origins in the mother, we witness the infinite variety of experiences awarded the offspring. Spectrums of gender, race, age, religion, class, and nation give voice in Donnelly and Bernstein's anthology as more than 80 writers contribute poetry, essays, memoirs, and short fiction. Some of the artists are well-known, including Maya Angelou, Galway Kinnell, Marge Piercy, Margaret Atwood, and ...

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Overview

Finally, we have an inclusive collection that brings motherhood into the fold of feminism. As we accede to our universal origins in the mother, we witness the infinite variety of experiences awarded the offspring. Spectrums of gender, race, age, religion, class, and nation give voice in Donnelly and Bernstein's anthology as more than 80 writers contribute poetry, essays, memoirs, and short fiction. Some of the artists are well-known, including Maya Angelou, Galway Kinnell, Marge Piercy, Margaret Atwood, and Robert Bly, while others are less known. All attest to the experience of motherhood as primal.

Writing as mothers, as children to their mothers, and as close observers, women and men create selections that fall into three trimesters of involvement: the experiences of going beyond the self, beyond reflection, and, finally, beyond the whole. The many shades of emotional experience, from ecstasy to horror and all points in between, are portrayed in words and photographs. As images take shape, nightmares are relived, emotions flow abundantly, and details come into focus as the cathartic effect of the writing builds. Painting motherhood as much more than just a pretty picture, the editors' purpose is clearly to bring us all together under a multi-faceted umbrella of empathy and to unite us in the diversity of the experience of motherhood.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Feminist writers Kenison and Hirsch consider their collection of short stories the first about motherhood by mothers in America today. Originally published between 1981 and 1994, mostly in the New Yorker and Redbook, the pieces include Mary Gordon's "Separation" and Kenison's work on Olive A. Burns's unfinished Bildungsroman Leaving Cold Sassy. This could have been an interesting collection, but it is marred by the editors' skewed perception of women who do not regard motherhood as a legitimate literary subject and their contention that in the 1970s and 1980s, maternity was so unfashionable that it, rather than institutional sexism, was the barrier to creative achievement. Aiming to "bring the celebration of motherhood into the fold of feminism," Donnelly and Bernsteinwho both teach English at a community collegehave collected essays, short fiction, and poems about motherhood, most by contemporary writers, including themselves. Many of the contributors to their "womb-book" are well known, e.g., Gwendolyn Brooks, Sylvia Plath, and Robert Bly. Anna Quindlen's "The Glass Half Empy," reprinted from her New York Times column, explores her recognition of the sexism her daughter faces and her son does not. There are also excerpts from major works such as Maxine Hong Kingston's The Woman Warrior and Maya Angelou's I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. Both collections will interest the general reader but will not compete with Mother Journeys: Feminist Writing About Mothering (LJ 11/1/94).Helen Rippier Wheeler, formerly of UC-Berkeley, SLIS
Booknews
A collection of poems, short stories, memoirs, and photographs observing the diversity of motherhood from the point of view of mothers and children. The selections avoid sentimentality and pursue the profounder depths, sorrows, and joys of the theme while maintaining a high standard of literary craft. The writers represent a spectrum of gender, race, age, and class, and include such well-known artists as Maya Angelou, Galway Kinnell, Sharon Olds, Margaret Atwood, and Robert Bly. Lacks an index. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780897894456
  • Publisher: ABC-CLIO, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 4/30/1996
  • Pages: 280
  • Lexile: 1040L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 6.14 (w) x 9.21 (h) x 0.59 (d)

Meet the Author

KAREN J. DONNELLY, freelance writer and poet, teaches in the English Department at Gateway Community Technical College in New Haven, Connecticut.

J. B. BERNSTEIN, a short fiction writer and poet, has published extensively in literary reviews, such as Kalliope, The Valley Women's Voice, Hip Mama, and The Illinois Review.

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Table of Contents

Introduction
The Moment the Two Worlds Meet 3
from A Street in Bronzeville 4
How to Live 6
Miscarriage 14
With Child 16
Lines For One As Yet Unnamed 19
Fist First 20
The Bearing Woman 23
Infant Burial Room, Wupatki 28
Even after death, I will not forget how a newborn huffs and puffs when sitting slumped over 30
Not a Trace 33
Cambodia 35
Morning Song 39
Stumbling into Motherhood: A Few Words About Bonding & Mother-Women 40
Ironing 43
On the Inside 44
After Reading Mickey in the Night Kitchen for the Third Time Before Bed 50
Crack in the World 51
What to Tell the Kids 55
But how? 57
Yes, It is Possible to Love a Child Who Doesn't Have Your Eyes 58
Motherless 60
Brothers and Sons 61
Loving Across State Lines 64
The Glass Half Empty 67
Awaiting the Arrival of the Witch 69
Ghost Child 72
Learning the Firebird Suite 74
That's My Girl 75
The Blessing 76
Cornucopia 79
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (excerpt) 83
Reasons... 87
The Woman Warrior 88
Nursing the Adopted Child: A Different Pace of Bonding 92
Sitting With My Mother and Father 96
Bending Over Roses at Twilight 98
Mercy Killing 99
Women and Other Mothers 100
Spring of '42 106
The Body Market 107
Foreword from The Measure of Our Success 109
Mother's Voice 112
Autumn Roses 113
Passing Away 115
Breast Fed 118
The Annuity 119
What She Left Me 122
Rubberband Dances 133
Shooters 135
Writing My Mother's Life 136
Feminism, Art, and My Mother Sylvia 140
Going Deeper into the Album 147
On Learning of the Death of My Great-Grandmother in Childbirth at Age 18 148
Grandmother 149
Making the Wine 151
Dead Baby Speaks 157
50 Mothers of a Renowned Wolf 162
Beautiful Bellies 165
Mother and Daughter, A Dynamic Duo Indeed 169
Heat 174
Two Poems 177
The Scorpion Wore Pink Shoes 178
Mommy Wars 186
Real Enough 188
The Child Has Seen the Wind 190
Tito Fuentes, Topps #177, 1967 191
Life Ain't Never Settled 192
Conception 198
Giving Birth 199
Mother's Milk: A Dairy Tale 211
The Woman With the Wild-Grown Hair Keeps Her Vigil 213
Like Her Uterus Ripped Out 215
The Fault 219
Small Things 221
The Christmas Ritual 226
from 7 Folk Songs with Refrains 227
Black Bear Eating Salmon 229
Child Has No Say 231
After-Shock 233
Breast Feeding 237
The Last Wild Horses in Tennessee 238
The Envelope 240
About the Editors and Contributors 241
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