A Birthmother’s Catechism
With black ink and legalese
How did you let him go?
It’d be another year before I could vote
How did you let him go?
With altruism, tears, and self-loathing
A nurse brought pills for drying up breast milk
Who hangs a birdhouse from a sapling?
by Carrie Etter
‘A Birthmother’s Catechism’ is copyright © Carrie Etter, 2014. It was published in Imagined Sons, and is reprinted here by permission of Seren Books.
Notes from Seren:
American poet Carrie
Etter has lived in England since 2001 and taught creative writing at Bath Spa
University since 2004. She has published three collections of poetry: The
Tethers (Seren, 2009), winner of the London New Poetry Prize, Divining
for Starters (Shearsman, 2011) and Imagined Sons
(Seren, 2014); she also edited the anthology Infinite Difference: Other
Poetries by UK Women Poets (Shearsman, 2010). Individual poems have
appeared in Boston Review, The New Republic, The New Statesman, Poetry
Review, The Times Literary Supplement, and many other journals worldwide.
She also reviews contemporary poetry, most recently for The Guardian and
You can read more about the book on Seren’s site,
and find out more about Carrie’s work from her blog. You can also follow her on
of this collection, Carol Rumens has commented: ‘The narrator is a mother whose son was adopted soon after his birth. In
the main sequence she describes a series of encounters with the now-adult
child. This is not the report of a literal search, nor an effort to construct
an identity, but a mosaic of the numerous possibilities of relationship. Funny
at times, fast-moving and psychologically astute, these tiny monologues are
held together by a narrative voice as seemingly self-possessed as it is
Seren is based in Bridgend, South
Wales and was originally conceived in the early 80's by then Head of English at
Brynteg Comp, Cary Archard, on his kitchen table as an offshoot of Poetry
Wales magazine. After moving briefly to poet Dannie Abse’s garage in
Ogmore by Sea, the advent of Managing Editor Mick Felton has seen the press has
go from strength to strength. We’ve published a wide range of titles including
fiction (which under Editor Penny Thomas has seen the Booker-nominated novel by
Patrick McGuinness, The Last Hundred Days, and an acclaimed novella
series based on the medieval Welsh tales from the Mabinogion) and
non-fiction (including literary criticism such as John Redmond’s Poetry and
Privacy, as well as sumptuous art books like the collaboration between the
painter Shani Rhys James and a number of poets and writers: Florilingua).
Seren’s poetry list, edited by Amy Wack since the early 90s, has produced T.S.
Eliot-nominated titles by Deryn Rees-Jones and Pascale Petit, Costa winner John
Haynes, and a large list of Forward prize winners and nominees. Cary Archard
remains on our Board of Directors and is a lively and influential presence. We
mourn the loss, last year, of the wonderful Dannie Abse, also a guiding spirit.
Find out more about the publisher from its website.
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