This Country of Mothers

Overview

A mosaic of memories, the poems of This Country of Mothers recollect Julianna Baggott’s experiences as both mother and daughter. With wit, compassion, aggression, and anxiety, Baggott examines her maternal history. She recalls moments of creation and destruction in her life, times of elation and of desperation that mold her as both a woman and a poet. This affecting study of motherhood is framed in issues of Catholicism and of poetry itself, challenging and espousing the roles of both. Throughout her poems, ...

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This Country of Mothers

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Overview

A mosaic of memories, the poems of This Country of Mothers recollect Julianna Baggott’s experiences as both mother and daughter. With wit, compassion, aggression, and anxiety, Baggott examines her maternal history. She recalls moments of creation and destruction in her life, times of elation and of desperation that mold her as both a woman and a poet. This affecting study of motherhood is framed in issues of Catholicism and of poetry itself, challenging and espousing the roles of both. Throughout her poems, Baggott’s personal experiences embrace universal themes to birth poems in a language and style that is both powerfully feminine and accessibly human.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

“Against a backdrop of family stories, Julianna Baggott draws themes as sharp as razors. She is an accomplished poet of the eye and ear, of the definitive feminine experience, and her poems of private life are expansive enough to suggest a vision of a political and historical era. If Baggott's large subject is memory and, especially, its defaults, the clarity that so many of her characters seek to deny is her great virtue. Poems like “The Annunciation: Our Mothers at Church” and “The Dead Must Disappear or Join a Story” might be admired exclusively for their technical skills, but they are also marvelously accessible. This Country of Mothers announces a poet of substantial powers.”—Rodney Jones, author of Elegy for the Southern Drawl

“In Julianna Baggott's This Country of Mothers, a distant and uncaring god is always near.  Baggott's world is haunted by blood, miscarriage, suicide, and family love—and set against the world of the Bible. In one striking poem the speaker embarrasses and tires Jesus himself by telling him how ‘a woman resigns herself to joy’ because she knows her body will be ‘ripped open’ in childbirth. And when Jesus, exhausted by her rant (‘I've gone too far’), lies down on the sofa, she covers him with a white sheet and takes care of him.  In these large, passionate, compelling poems, the speaker's family and the holy family merge in love and suffering—wholly family, wholly loved, wholly suffered for.”—Andrew Hudgins, author of Babylon in a Jar: New Poems

“Julianna Baggott has a fierce imagination which probes the ordinary details of a woman's life and lights up both the sacred and profane.  In a poem called ‘Blurbs,’ she half facetiously hopes for the words ‘sexy,’ ‘elegance,’ and ‘bite’ to be applied to her work.  Happily, in this book, she earns all three.”—Linda Pastan, author of Carnival Evening: New and Selected Poems 1968–1998

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780809323814
  • Publisher: Southern Illinois University Press
  • Publication date: 2/1/2001
  • Series: Crab Orchard Series in Poetry Series
  • Edition description: 1st Edition
  • Edition number: 3
  • Pages: 96
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.30 (d)

Meet the Author

Julianna Baggott received her M.F.A. from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. She has held fellowships and scholarships from the Delaware Division of Arts, the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, Ragdale Foundation, and Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference. Her poems have been published in Poetry, The Southern Review, and Best American Poetry 2000. She is the author of Girl Talk, a novel, which has been translated into five languages. She lives in Delaware with her husband and three children.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
How It Begins 3
Kitchens: 1959 4
Conception 6
The Cold War: My Parents as Newlyweds 8
My Mother Gives Birth 9
Correcting Memory 13
The Knocking Tree 15
Recalling the Leg 16
Nights in Tijuana 17
Learning to Say No at the Immaculate Conception High School 19
First Time 20
What We Didn't Talk about at Fifteen 22
My Mother Refuses to Wear Glasses 23
My Grandfather Returns after Many Year 25
How I Fear God 27
Coming Home at Seventeen 28
My Mother's National Geographics 30
The Annunciation: Our Mothers at Church 32
After Giving Birth, I Recall the Madonna and Child 35
First Pregnancy 36
Satisfying the God of Statistics 37
Preschool 38
Seventy Degrees in December 39
Checkup after the Operation to Evacuate the Dead Fetus 41
You Found Me in the Dry Tub, Fevered, Whispering of God 43
After the Miscarriage 44
Mother as Judas 45
The Pill 46
Language Lab, Paris, 1989 47
After Eleven Days of Rain 48
The Cow Remembers Urus 49
Pharaoh's Dream 50
My Daughter's Sight 51
My Daughter, like Eve, Realizes Nakedness 52
Cesarean 54
What the Poets Could Have Been 57
Blurbs 59
Dear Mr. Houdini 60
The Assumption: Mary's Heart in the Guinness Book of World Records 61
What I Told the Jehovah's Witness 63
Discussing Sorrow with Jesus 64
My Cousin Attempts Suicide in Gander Hill Prison 66
Jesus in the Mail 67
On My Husband's Thirty-Third Birthday 68
Living Where They Raised Me 69
The Beginning 70
The Dead Must Disappear or Join a Story 71
My Mother among Bears 75
My Mother Prays to Dream of Her Dead Father 76
My Mother in the Garden 78
Mummification 79
The Extra Rib 80
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