Due for release on July 16th, award-winning writer Rachel Bower's latest collection These Mothers of Gods has started to make its way into the hands of early reviewers. In anticipation of its impending release, we've rounded up some of the most recent conclusions drawn on These Mothers of Gods about motherhood, gender, and our social and environmental responsibilities in the modern climate we live in.
July 7th saw the publication of Steve Whitaker's review in the Yorkshire Times, "Flags And Flowers: These Mothers Of Gods By Rachel Bower". This was a wonderfully thorough review that dissected Rachel's linguistic, historical, and semantic ranges, pulling quotes from poems such as ‘After the Stork’, which he labelled "brutal" and "organic":
‘Rooted in this murky puddle,
bruised and emptied, she is more alone
than ever before. The sting of hot water
comes as a relief, rinsing a deluge of sobs
and offal, pouring brightly on leaking breasts.’
Other highlights of Steve Whitaker's review include mention of the way the collection "liberate(s) the state of motherhood as both metaphor and metonym", and an acknowledgement of Rachel's "simplicity (that) lends a resonant irony to a moment of incalculable grief". Steve summarises These Mothers of Gods with a remark on the "intimate connection between motherhood, the natural world and the ideas of human propagation, nurture, and continuity."
On July 2nd, Yvette Huddleston of the Yorkshire Post aptly described These Mothers of Gods as "A stunning collection - moving, uplifting and timely." She generously appraises the collection as full of "poems of joy and heartache, hope and despair, the whole gamut of emotions that come with the responsibility of motherhood". Yvette also draws attention to the fact that this is a collection moving beyond the sensation of human mothering, additionally exploring animalistic mothers including a vixen and her "nest of dusty cubs", a seal, and the infamous queen bee in the poem 'Hive Mother'.
"Rachel Bower's accomplished and resonant collection of poetry explores mothering, nurturing and caring, in many forms and guises."
Alongside Yvette's wonderful review, she also released a broader feature, "Yorkshire poet Rachel Bower's new collection These Mothers Of Gods delves into motherhood". This feature centred on Rachel's publication history, including Moon Milk (Valley Press, 2018) and how that inspired the moving themes These Mothers of Gods.
Rachel herself says in the feature, "I was really trying to think about how we connect with other people and with other people's experiences. I feel that if we could connect with them as if they were our own, we might have a better world."
Yvette comments on the "sense of empathy" that is strong throughout, including in the poem 'Wet Nurse':
Halimah bint Abi Dhuayb, Wet Nurse to Muhammed
He was never mine to lose, unless you count
the milk fat thighs, creased at the knees,
the eyes, drenched clean with manna sap
from my own breast, teeth, sharp as kittens
his cry of ‘um halmah in the night, halmah
until dawn, and all was right as rain except
this was the desert and his real Ummi’s breasts
were rock as she handed him over, my gift