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The title poem of this new collection of poems by Carolyn Jess-Cooke: ‘Boom!’ enacts the moment when the new baby arrives in the family ‘like a hand grenade’. ‘Becoming a mother changed me in every single way,’ says the author, ‘my first child – born in October 2006 – just about knocked me sideways. There were many reasons for this, but here’s the biggest one: I could not believe how public and political the (hugely personal) experience of motherhood was.’
A noted academic, author of a book about film and Shakespeare, and a best-selling popular novelist ‘The Guardian Angel’s Journal’ and ‘The Boy Who Could See Demons’, Jess-Cooke found, as many parents do, that the juggling act required to raise young children and continue a professional and creative life, is both exhausting and fulfilling.
The poems chronicle the rapturous moments, such as ‘Wakening’ where the baby is observed: ‘the seedling eyes stirred by sunlight’. There are also the tragi-comic ‘Nights’ full of ‘small elbows in the face’ and ‘assailed by colds and colic’. Jess-Cooke doesn’t flinch from the darker fears and depressions that can afflict parents. There are also pieces of pointed satirical intent and socio-political comment such as ‘Poem made from bits of Newspaper Headlines ’ and ‘The Only Dad in Playgroup’.
Viewing motherhood from a multiplicity of artful angles, the author says, ‘Coupled with all this was the love I had for my children. It completely and utterly blew me away, how much I could love another human being.’