‘I see you’: Abi Curtis on the makings of Blood & Cord
I came up with the idea to put together a book on early parenthood after having my own babies and noticing that there were a lot of writers exploring the topic. Some of these writers weren’t necessarily known for writing about parenthood but had begun to do so after having children themselves. Some were already writing wonderful things about parenthood. I guess it’s something to do with being part of a certain generation of writers, many of whom were now beginning to have families.
I also spoke to a lot of fellow parents, some writers, some artists, some not, and realised that there are many aspects of parenthood that aren’t spoken or written about that much: the difficult feelings, the challenges, the shift in identity that many new parents feel, the effect on creative practice. Most of us were in awe, overjoyed, overwhelmed with love, of course. But there were ambivalent feelings too: sleepless nights causing a hallucinogenic level of fatigue; wondering how to find time to write or make art, resentment, struggling to breastfeed, living in a transformed body, relating to our partners, trying to understand our new selves in relation to our babies. Darker, more difficult things: post-natal depression, anxiety, birth trauma. The challenging undercurrents of parenthood. I decided to commission writers I knew would write uplifting, celebratory work, but also those who would not shy away from the more difficult topics, who would write with honesty and rawness about these experiences. And those, too, who would write about baby loss, which can be an integral part of the parental experience, though sometimes is not acknowledged as such.
“Many kinds of parenthood are presented in this superb new collection of poems and stories. Mothers and fathers convey the spectrum of ways in which the self is remade by parenthood, the ‘complete subjugation’ of this task – bodily, mentally, spiritually – tearing apart the boundaries of love for which new language is required. Thankfully, the writers herein are more than up to this otherwise monumental task. New and experienced parents alike will find solace and resonance in this wonderful book.”– Carolyn Jess-Cooke
I wanted also to ensure that different kinds of parenthood were represented, mothers, fathers, queer parenthood – to be inclusive as possible. The work that came to me from these authors was surprising, moving, fascinating, sometimes difficult, and always thought provoking. The idea was to create a collection of poetry and prose that would offer solidarity to new parents, that would say I see you; you are not alone in your complicated feelings, there is no wrong way to feel. I wanted to acknowledge their profound transformation.
For me, becoming a parent was an unmaking, a kind of shattering of who I thought I was, and then a process of remaking where I became someone better, a bit different, but still myself. I hope readers of this book will recognise something here and feel recognised back.