I think being a mother must be an amazing experience. I don’t really know the glimmers and shadows of any life but mine, even though I would be more than happy to listen. Recently, I’ve been reading the poems of Carol Ann Duffy, Scottish poet, U.K. Laureate, and once partner to poet Jackie Kay, and she writes something in one of her poems (“A Clear Note”) that I resonate with: “Never have kids. Give birth to yourself.” It is not Duffy, the narrator, who says this, but a character named Moll.
In the triptych poem, three women—Agatha, Moll, and Bernadette, three generations of women, speak to and about each other through time and space. The quote is just something Moll recalls saying to her daughter, Bernadette one night when she is drunk. I of course do not think a woman cannot give birth to herself if she has children. But it is certainly a good (in my opinion, for I wish it so) excuse for myself, revising this line of verse in my own voice: I will never have kids; I need the entirety of life to birth myself.
What a selfish, navel-gazing sort of statement for me to take on, isn’t it? Perhaps. I just think it is also a realistic one. I feel late coming on the scene of discovering what my path is. Now I have a vision and a drive, and I feel that all my sensationalist deep sea diving and surfing (metaphorically) has been both a distraction and the path on which a discovery was made. I feel quite strongly against saying “This [exhibit A] happened for a reason: [see exhibit B].” But all the decisions did sort of construct a path of materials I now have to work with.
I’m a part of a group on Facebook called She Hit Refresh, in which many women are hitting that button while moving across the country, changing careers, or re-locating to another continent (or at least taking a very long vacation to figure things out). I do not think people have to make big, material changes in their lives to “hit refresh.” Self-reflection, conversations with others, evolving viewpoints and perspectives, just expressing your thoughts more, unblocking your chakras. . . all this and more can be a new beginning. I think that our lives are exploratory and experimental. When I read the poems of Carol Ann Duffy, it feels like she has lived a million lives since she speaks so intimately from within the narratives she chooses to write about.
The new beginning for me is also action that I feel good about because I like it and it feels authentic: I’m posting my published poetry on Instagram and following lots of other writers on Twitter. I know I should be more face-to-face with people and nature, but I tend to isolate myself. Social engagement is something I have to work on. That new beginning is forthcoming, I guess. But having a vision for my career and then acting on it by submitting and applying, knowing what is practical and what is something not too far out of reach for me to work toward, that certainty is a new beginning for me.
I wonder what new beginnings you all are going through, even if it is evolving and transforming deeper into what is already your existence? Because I think moving in any direction is potential for re-birth. Of course, birthing children is a re-birth for those who will guide and love them. Despite all of the crisis and political despair that is out in the world, we can be sacred co-creators of our own lives and this world. I would love for the comment section on this post to become a sharing of all the beginnings we are experiencing and creating or co-creating in our lives, big or small. Also, I want to share a writing opportunity that I am thinking about submitting to. I’m not sure who is creating/editing it, but if I discover, I will edit this post and add them here. From the Herstryblg.com website:
INTRODUCING THE HERSTRY ANTHOLOGY
Our very first in print collection of women’s stories. Our first anthology will be called Beginnings and will feature stories centered around the theme of Beginning. The anthology will be illustrated by our favorite artist Sarah Messina.
What we are looking for:
Raw, honest, true stories from women around the world
Previously unpublished stories
Stories should range in length from 1,000 – 8,000 words
Manuscripts should be well edited
Authors should submit their work in the form of a word document. Please no PDFs.
Authors should submit a short third person bio and an author photo along with their story
Authors should submit their work as follows: First Name Last Name Title
Stories should focus on the theme of Beginnings in some way
Stories must be true and about the author.
Submission deadline is May 1st, 2019.
Chosen authors will receive a payment of $10 for their story, a free copy of Beginnings: HerStry Anthology Volume One, a discount code for friends and family, and other great HerStry swag. The HerStry Anthology will be printed with an ISBN number as well putting the author and their work in the Library of Congress.
HerStry welcomes new and established authors. We believe every woman has a story worth telling. Women of color and LGBTQIA+ writers espcially encouraged to submit.
$4 From February 18th-March 11th
$5 From March 12th-April 21st
$6 From April 22-May 1st”
I hope you submit, and I hope you comment to tell me about your beginnings.
Elisabeth S., Ph.D., graduated in 2014 from the Women and Religion program at Claremont Graduate University. She teaches online composition from a contemplative pedagogical approach at Oklahoma State University. Currently, she is working on a chapbook of poetry and traveling through Iceland, Spain, and Ireland.