In a decade of reading and writing about motherhood poetry—including an essay-review in these pages in 2019—I have found no universal truths about motherhood. However, as I’ve worked with poet Nancy Reddy to edit an anthology of motherhood poems and essays—The Long Devotion: Poets Writing Motherhood—I’ve identified plenty of common strands. Many who gave birth to children wrote poems of rigorous, miraculous physicality: pregnancy, labor, nursing, lifting, comforting, tending to small children. Those who nurtured infants did not shy away from bodily fluids: piss, vomit, snot, breast milk. Ferocity flourished; frustration, anger, and sorrow bumped up against exuberance, joy, and tenderness. Mother-poets contained many moods and were often exhausted, pulled in multiple directions by work, family, and writing.
What of the father-poets?
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