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I Carry My Mother
is a book-length cycle of poems that explores a daughter's journey through her mother's illness and death. From diagnosis through yahrtzeit (one-year anniversary), the narrator grapples with what it means to lose a mother. The poems, written in a variety of forms (sonnet, pantoum, villanelle, sestina, terza rima, haiku, and others) are finely crafted, completely accessible, and full of startling, poignant, and powerful imagery. These poems will resonant with all who have lost a parent, relative, spouse, friend, or anyone whom they dearly love.
In a passionate book, Leslea Newman chronicles her mother's dying and the phases of her own grieving. She fuses an unsparing realism with lyrical intensity, in honest, direct, clear language, in mostly rhymed stanzas. The pages seem to tremble with an accurate description of changing emotional states, all born of the closeness, humor, and love in the mother-daughter relationship.
-Naomi Replansky, author of The Dangerous World
and Collected Poems
After the introductory poem I thought 'oh dear, I'm going to cry my way through the whole thing.' And then, the exquisite first-rate poetry-using forms like triolet and rondeau-took me to a much deeper place than tears can possibly reveal. This is a very beautiful book.
-Judy Grahn, author of A Simple Revolution: The Making of an Activist Poet
Throughout her long career, Leslea Newman has distinguished herself by diving deep into the essentials of life and delivering them with a light touch. The poems in her new collection, I Carry My Mother
, are both light and dark. They are small rituals that draw us closer to the child within, revealing the complex love between a vivacious mother and an independent daughter. Each verse is a spiritual chant; each line is a lyric glistening with grief.
-Jewelle Gomez, author ofThe Gilda Stories
and Oral Tradition
Using forms inspired by poets ranging from Wallace Stevens to Dr. Seuss, from Sir Philip Sidney to Elizabeth Bishop, Leslea Newman's heartfelt poems are a loving tribute to her mother. The poems move back and forth between precise images of her mother in life-"her tiny feet/Her toenails painted candy-apple red," -and images of her mother as she dies-"a tiny, mottled lump of clay." I Carry My Mother
allows us to look into a deeply personal portrait of a mother and daughter who are so much alike that when the daughter looks into the mirror, "my mother stares back." In the dedication, Newman writes, "may her memory be a blessing." These poems evoke and preserve those memories, showing how love lives on after death.
-Ellen Bass, author ofLike a Beggar
and The Human Line