As seen in the Yorkshire Post: "visceral, honest and true" and the Yorkshire Times: "Rachel Bower has the capacity to unbutton emotion in one killing phrase".
This poetry collection seeks to recover the lived experiences of women who have often appeared only fleetingly in official histories, and also pushes towards a more expansive understanding of ‘motherhood’, inclusive of broader urgent issues about gender and our collective responsibilities for lives, environments and natural worlds.
"She has birthed a creature of the deep. Curled grace unfurling, starfish hands circling. The conductor of waves, doctors, tests. She harvests red algae, kneads little loaves of laver bread."
“In Rachel Bower’s powerful new collection, you will find mothers displaced, mothers deceived, mothers labouring to stay sane and alive. But woven amongst any vulnerability is a fierce celebration of the mother-body, opened up to prove the unique and complex
stories each one holds. I am grateful to Bower for finding these women - historical, biblical, autobiographical – and offering me such inventive, arresting poems, brim-full with blistering truths.”
- Rebecca Goss, Poet
"Powerful, compelling and exquisitely crafted, These Mothers of Gods is a tour-de-force of female-focussed storytelling."
- Teika Marija Smits, Writer and Editor
"Rachel Bower’s poems show us mothering as we’ve never seen it before, through time, history, and mythology. The collection centres the voice of the other, while conveying poignant experiences of joy, elation, triumph and hardness. These image-rich verses are poems of intense curiosity and beauty."
- Jason Allen-Paisant
About the Author
Rachel Bower is an award-winning writer based in Sheffield. She is the author of Moon Milk (Valley Press) and Epistolarity and World Literature (Palgrave Macmillan). Her poetry has been published widely in journals and magazines, including Magma, The London Magazine, Frontier, New Welsh Review and Stand. Her work has been commissioned by a range of organisations including BBC Radio (National Poetry Day), Collections in Verse (Poet in the City/ The British Library), Barnsley Museums and Apples and Snakes North.
Rachel edited the Verse Matters anthology with Helen Mort (Valley Press) and is currently editing a parenting anthology with Simon Armitage (Faber & Faber). Her short fiction has also been widely published, and she won The London Magazine Short Story Prize 2019-20 and the W&A Short Story Competition 2020. She is currently teaching Creative Writing at the University of Leeds.
330 Savanna Elephants, 400 Pilot Whales
the whales tiny \ in the aerial footage
silver black mackerels \ shore litter
the elephants \ sleeping toys
trunks greyish \ ready \ for play
bluegreen waterholes \ stunning maps
but on the ground
biologists retched \ wept \
at the bulk \ the curves \ the unbearable weight
rotting \ luxuriant \
the shining \ beaching \ bleaching
herds \ pods \ families
all slacked into sand
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
to wipe streaks of yellow curd on boulders,
tuck hamaat figs in his cheeks, drape blue glass
beads at his neck, surrounded by prints in the sand
from a thousand foxes, tented ears alert
to the loss of this milkchild, the eager arms
of the mother, the pain of handing him back.