Unable Mother – review

A new review of  ‘Unable Mother‘ by Victoria Richards, has been published in ‘Arfur’ this month.  


Reviewing Helen Calcutt’s glorious collection, Unable Mother, feels a little like reading the diary of a close friend, a letter to myself, or the delicate and kaleidoscopic thoughts of the many women I’ve walked, talked and cried with since we were bonded by one single, cataclysmic event – birth. And this, too, is a birth. Unable Mother is an unfinished poem, the author tells us, whose trace threads through the whole collection.

The physical act of birth is savage and haunting in ‘White almond’ – the pain of the body “widening at the shoulders, a consistency of skins”, the biting body words of “sweat” and “cunt” and “coccyx flung wide open”. The final, transition phase of labour “stings” and “pulses” and I felt my heart racing along with the stanzas as I remembered the vividity of the burning (“I throw my arms to the sun”), the unalterable change (“my twenty-odd years fall away with old lungs”), the “apex”, the “everywhere white”. That “old way-of-doing-things heart” is scarred forever. And yet, I found myself returning again and again to the start of the poem: “We fit near perfect.”’

You can read full review here

Purchase your copy of Unable Mother at any of these outlets:

PBS Website: https://www.poetrybooks.co.uk/products/unable-mother-helen-calcutt

V. Press: http://vpresspoetry.blogspot.com/p/unable-mother.html

Waterstones: https://www.waterstones.com/book/unable-mother/helen-calcutt/9781999844400