Birth and Poetry Writing

This is a response to Sidey‘s weekend theme, this week “Birth”. I somehow couldn’t just go for it, and have enjoyed seeing what everyone else has written (all the links can be found in her comments). I emailed my friend NC who once wrote the most beautiful poem after the birth of her first grandchild. I wanted to share that, but she has not yet written back so I do not have permission. I’ll share later if she says Yes. My own poem below. First, can’t do birth without my grandchildren. The girls came one by one, I couldn’t resist the two babies.

My twin grandsons, Louis is on Ali’s right.

Then I thought about poetry. For me writing poetry has been a birth in more ways than one. First, I will be forever grateful to Lisa and the BIPP for getting me started just after I had retired from work. Utterly unrehearsed idea: me, writing poems, what on earth for, how? etc. etc. So that is birth of a new untried occupation, and incidentally another example of a belief that anyone can try anything, I did not say succeed, try is what that’s about. I have had such a lot of fun and friendship and sheer pleasure from the writing, not to mention learning bits about myself I did not know before.

Second, the way I write poetry. That really is birth: the birth of a thought rising unbidden from some unconscious perception. Something starts me, I put the pencil on the paper, and then the lines tumble out. Quite assiduous attempts to edit properly DO NOT WORK. Editing may work for others, but not for me. Occasionally I switch a word here and there afterwards, or change them around a bit much later, but that seems like writing a second poem on the same thing. I put most of them all on the other blog, much as they come. I think editing does not work precisely because my poetry is that kind of unconscious free association – if it is not a good poem, it is because my unthought self hasn’t got together yet in there in my unconscious – or should that be under there?I am sometimes pretty surprised by what emerges, sometimes sort of resigned – well yes I knew that.

So not having heard from my friend, I put pencil to paper, this isn’t great but it is what arrived, as is.


This is one of the few photos of me when little, there are no baby photos.

Of course,
I do not remember
being born.
But that moment
lies in the marrow of my bones.
A time
when doctors feared the sound
of struggle
and my mother
lay in chloroform unknowing.
My face
trapped by forceps
listened looked
for voice and face,
alone away from drumming throbbing space.
Of course
I do not remember
missing her.
I remember
the crown of my son. His head turning to my joy.
rose unbidden.
My mother
Learner of love,
never knew that miracle, the crowning glory.

Crying: Hey, it’s me! I’m here!

There are no, NO, baby photos of me. I wrote about this before, quite differently, here.


6 thoughts on “Birth and Poetry Writing

    1. Yeah – but I am not sorry for myself. Most of my poems are sad or violent which shows what is going on inside. I am one of the most optimistic people I know, all that awful can’t beat just living OK. The boys are still sweet, most of the time…lots of their stories om the earlier Shanghai blogs


  1. Lovely and sad all at the same time. What a wonderful poem.

    I agree your work comes from somewhere inside, ready to wrap the idea in words already ready inside you


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