REVIEW: MOTHER MAY I? – JULIETTE van der MOLEN (ANIMAL HEART PRESS)

Mother, may i
ask you why
it was so different 
to be first born? 
did i alter you
to this
stretched
&
unreal smile
or were you always
unhappy
&
birthed me
that way?

How often does one find a collection which causes pause after every single poem? Which leads the reader to be caught between gaping in horror and weeping at the suffering expertly conveyed with each word? A collection which stays with you, consuming your mind as you try to sleep at night?

Juliette van der Molen’s Mother, May I? (Animal Heart Press) is a haunting and eye opening collection which recounts heartbreaking personal experiences being both mother and mothered. MMI also addresses the chilling and horrific acts of child abuse and filicide by a variety of mothers, from a girl who gave birth at her prom to poet Anne Sexton to actress Joan Crawford. Each poem bravely delves into tragedy and the complexities of motherhood through beautiful, powerful writing.

The author’s note states: “The narrative of the institution of motherhood can never be changed until we start observing reality and telling the truth. These are my observations. These are my truths.” In sharing these observations and truths, van der Molen opens the conversation to all, whether the reader is a mother or not, and does so in a profound and moving way.

Mother, May I? is an extremely important collection. 

Purchase your copy of Mother May I? from Animal Heart Press.

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