“Since female poets began bum-rushing the academy midcentury, claiming their right to discuss these formerly taboo subjects, there has been a flood of smart, morbid, searching, sometimes outrageous writing on maternity. The best such poems burn off the pink sentimentality of motherhood in favor of something wilder and more surprising. When Anne Sexton wrote her hilarious rant “In Celebration of My Uterus,” critics mocked her for considering such crassly female subject matter for poetry. But she and others — Sharon Olds especially, who has built her career on a far more vivid and ambitious variant of what Garrison seems to be striving for — have cleared a path for writing that does more than simply memorialize household happiness.”
The reviewer, Emily Nussbaum, who excels at damning with faint praise, goes on to laud Sylvia Plath as the One True Mommypoet, and while I may actually agree with a lot of what Nussbaum says, despite the fact that I everso slightly know Deborah Garrison and she is darling and so I feel a knee-jerk resentment toward her critics (mixed, rather uncomfortably, with some moldy old envy that she has, after all, published two books of poetry, while I haven’t finished a poem since 1991), I REALLY agree with what Nussbaum says here:
“Plath makes strange what should be familiar — which is, after all, a central task of poetry.”
And if that doesn’t belong on a t-shirt, a shotglass, and a poster with a kitten dangling from a branch, I don’t know what does.
I think “making strange what should be familiar” should be a goal not only of poetry but of television, songwriting, cooking, sex, and maybe even online diarykeeping.
I guess I’ll go back to my cave and think about it during my breaks between egg dying, Lego assemblying, throwing things into the neighborhood swimming pool and demanding that other people dive down into the frigid water and get them, and all the other activities that fill the spring break week of a kindergartener.