Tag Archives: women’s experiences

‘Joy, Calm and a Blessing’: Little one, I’m sorry by Kate Garrett (FreeSpace 3)

21 May

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Joy, Calm and a Blessing

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Welcome to poet and writer Kate Garrett’s final FreeSpace and last poem: 

‘The sequence ‘Joy, Calm and a Blessing’ consists of four poems exploring the experiences of four generations of women concerning pregnancy / maternity, bodily autonomy and choice (or lack thereof).

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Little one, I’m sorry – (2004)

by Kate Garrett

 
if I am given the slender
choice between feeding
you from a bottle & hearing
from the midwife that “breast
is best”, shamed like a boisterous
child flaunting the rules,
or subjecting you to the secret
fear-bellows bred from the mouth
of your father, who panics
and claims my breasts belong
to him (they are mine) & feeding
you with them is forbidden
under his roof (it is also mine),
I will take comfort
in merely holding you close,
in our pocket of silence, offering
this replacement of plastic, rubber,
to your little elfin lips,
though tears stream down
your tiny chipmunk cheeks
and you nuzzle for the warm
scent of milk & love that leaks
from the skin of your mother.

—–

You can find out more about Kate and her work here:

http://www.kategarrettwrites.co.uk/

https://twitter.com/kate_garrett

 

*If you missed Kate’s other poems in this series you can find them here.

 

ArtiPeeps will be filled with poetry from the pupils of Milllfield School in Somerset tomorrow. We’re lucky!

 If you’d like to get involved with any of our opportunities or collaborations do get in touch via the contact form on the ‘What’s On’ Page or via @ArtiPeeps

‘Joy, Calm and a Blessing’: Happy and Late by Kate Garrett (FreeSpace 2)

16 Apr

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Joy, Calm and a Blessing

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Welcome to poet and writer Kate Garrett’s second FreeSpace this time consisting of two poems: 

‘The sequence ‘Joy, Calm and a Blessing’ consists of four poems exploring the experiences of four generations of women concerning pregnancy / maternity, bodily autonomy and choice (or lack thereof).

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Happy (1961)

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She almost had a son –
they don’t talk about him anymore.
They have two baby girls now,
blessings, gifts, two years apart.
They fill her time with feeds
and changes, tears and giggles;
they need her every moment,
as she twirls back and forth between
the walls of her still-sparkling house.
The diapers, soft and ironed, stacked
neatly – one day for laundry; rows
of fresh bottles boiled clean –
one day for sterilising.
Sterilising, not a surface left sticky
or muddy, no cause for alarm, no harm
will come to anyone within this frame.
She bakes, she sews the clothes, her husband
arrives home to a kiss and his supper.
At night she makes sure the hollow
space in her throat doesn’t fill with tears.
Each new morning she rises, fresh,
with the sun. She is happy.
Of course she is happy.
What else on earth could she be?

*

Late (1979)

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My dad, he doesn’t cry,
but he did when he heard
the news; sat at the kitchen
table, put his head
in his hands, and cried.

I said, through my own tears,
don’t worry, Daddy, I won’t be keeping it,
everything will be fine.
He couldn’t look at me.

Mom said maybe I’d like
to have a baby after all? She
said she had four, wouldn’t trade
us for anything. But then,
she was married, she was twenty five,
a housewife, it was different.
Her tongue burned:
Why was I so stupid
to sleep with a boy who’s still
in school? But it doesn’t matter;
why not keep the baby?

I’m still not sure why anyone
would think having one of these is a good idea.
It just screams –
dirty bottles, diapers piling up.
I have work in the morning. Mom
has to take it from me at 2am
because I want to shake it until it shuts up.

I don’t even want it.
It’s a mistake I can’t erase.
He forgot to bring a rubber. Just this once,
we thought. Nothing would happen
just the once, but it did.

And his mother said, give the baby
to us, we’ll take care of it. And my mother
said, we’ll keep it, don’t come round here
or I’ll deck you, and my father cried at the table,
and I never wanted it.

*

 

You can find out more about Kate and her work here:

http://www.kategarrettwrites.co.uk/

https://twitter.com/kate_garrett

 

*If you missed Kate’s first poem in this series you can find it here.

 

Kate will be back with the final poem in her exploration of women’s experiences of autonomy and pregnancy on Wednesday 21st May.

There will be an ArtiPeeps Update post tomorrow, full of good news.

 If you’d like to get involved with any of our opportunities or collaborations do get in touch via the contact form on the ‘What’s On’ Page or via @ArtiPeeps

‘Joy, Calm and a Blessing’: Granny Woman by Kate Garrett (FreeSpace 1)

26 Mar

abstract-painting-780-1-1.jpg!Blog

Joy, Calm and a Blessing

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Welcome to poet and writer Kate Garrett’s first FreeSpace: 

‘The sequence ‘Joy, Calm and a Blessing’ consists of four poems exploring the experiences of four generations of women concerning pregnancy / maternity, bodily autonomy and choice (or lack thereof).

The first poem in the sequence, ‘Granny Woman’, is a fictional poem based on stories of my great-grandmother, Ida Rich Garrett, who served her community as a “granny woman” in northern Tennessee from the 1920s to 1940s. She was also mother to 17 children of her own, though only 14 of them survived beyond infancy – her youngest son was my grandfather.’

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Granny Woman (1922)

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The men leave us be; at times
like this they take themselves
out to the porch with pipes
and tin cups. Everyone trusts

the granny woman. She knows
best, walks for miles when
there’s a baby coming, brings
her bag along. The bottles

of green-smelling whiskey,
fat leaves smooth and big
as her hand, rolled into jars,
rattle next to mud bases

for the poultice. She eases
the pains away, welcomes
every life into the wild world,
soothes swollen breasts so new

young uns can feed. Now and then
she brews up roots and stems
for some silly girl with a problem.
I’d say the men on the porch

never know much about that.
Some must believe they’re lucky.
They never say anyhow. They don’t see
what we see: the other side

of the granny woman, when she
doesn’t bring joy, calm and a blessing,
when she carries pain in her bag,
cramps, red blood, and a flat relief.

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*Until the middle of the 20th century, rural communities in the southern Appalachian region of the USA were served by “granny women”. These women were essentially midwives who used knowledge of herbal-based folk remedies to assist women in childbirth, and, less extensively, with terminations and contraception.

 

You can find out more about Kate and her work here:

http://www.kategarrettwrites.co.uk/

https://twitter.com/kate_garrett

 

Kate will be back with the second poem in her exploration of women’s experiences of autonomy and pregnancy on Wednesday 16th April.

 

There will be a second posting of Transformations poems this afternoon featuring the poets Karin Heyer and Eleanor Perry. Tomorrow you’ll see the next instalment of our collaborative short story initiative Hot Potato featuring poet and writer Michael Schmidt.  You can see the first section written by Steve Harris  here.

 

If you’d like to get involved with any of our opportunities or collaborations do get in touch via the contact form on the ‘What’s On’ Page or via @ArtiPeeps

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