As I read Samantha Kolber’s poetry debut, I thought of all the mothers I know and hold dear—close friends, my sister, my own mother; I want to give them this book, share with them this gift of understanding.
I paused as I read to absorb moments of “Whoa,” as Kolber’s words reveal what it meant to her to become Mother. I re-read to assimilate every nuance before passing on to the next vignette. Each feeling evoked felt important. Kolber’s words are powerful draws into her world and, somehow, although I am not a mother—a birth-mother, anyhow—I know these feelings. I suddenly understand the patience I see in the mothers around me—browbeaten and screamed at by tiny versions of themselves—who are somehow able to smile in response and reply with patience and logic to the demands of their offspring. And, I realize, through this breadth of written, recorded emotion: this is love. My eyes teared with the fullness of it. And although I have no literal means of comparison in my own life, I understand.
Kolber’s words are creative not only in the story they tell, but in the shapes they take on the page—energetic in their placement, bouncing, creating a lovely rhythm to be read. Like music, like the beat of a drum, like rain.
Each poem, although focused around the theme of Kolber’s daughter, in many ways also encompasses the passion and tenderness inherent in my own version of what it feels like to be a woman. In “I am Marked,” she observes, “My own expanding flesh / leers at me, a hinky afterthought, like the afterbirth / that will tug its way out after the wanted thing.” I know well such feelings of betrayal. That, as well as the process of learning to not be sunk by such disappointments, fits in with my definition of Me, as a woman. In “Birth of a Daughter”: “It has only taken me 42 years to realize / I am precious, too.” At 41, this, too, I reflect on and own.
Birth of a Daughter pulls me into a world of contemplation where I find myself experiencing vicariously something I have made a conscious decision to avoid—motherhood—and in this relating, I am left feeling powerful, raw, and real.
Birth of a Daughter by Samantha Kolber. Kelsay Books, September 2020.
Reviewer bio: Courtney B. Jenkins is a freelance content editor, proofreader, line/copy editor, and pioneer of her own business, Soaring Arrow Editing.
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