The Writing Motherhood project was founded by Carolyn Jess-Cooke to explore women’s experiences of motherhood, particularly in terms of the impact of motherhood upon creativity, to explore the notion of motherhood as a space in which everyday sexism is rendered permissible, to recapture the experiences of motherhood which are beautiful and complicated and often unifying amongst women, including those experiences of infertility, and to confront and unpack the notion of the ‘pram in the hallway’, or the notion of motherhood obstructing the creation of great art. The project received full Arts Council funding in December 2013.
Involving more than 20 female writers, including Rebecca Goss, CL Taylor, Hollie McNish, Rowan Coleman, Sinead Morrissey, Debi Gliori, Helen Cadbury, Liz Fraser, Lily Dunn, Nuala Casey, Kathryn Simmonds, Kathryn Maris, and Kate Long, the project toured 13 literary festivals throughout 2014/15 and featured three writers at a time in discussion about the ways in which motherhood had impressed upon their work, and performing work especially commissioned for the project. Audiences also participated in writing workshops and were encouraged to submit to the Writing Motherhood blog, which was hosted by prominent international women’s writing magazine Mslexia. Reviews were overwhelming positive: the event was the Pick of the 2014 Birmingham Literature Festival and hailed by The List magazine as ‘hugely refreshing…strikingly honest and inspiring.’
One of the highlights of the tour has been the discussions about previously ‘closed’ subjects, with many audience members confessing ‘I thought it was just me who felt this way’.
The anthology is published in March 2017, and a dedicated website is on its way! For now, tweet @writingmothers, or email Carolyn for more details.