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Motif of The Mother

Words:

Edd Norval
February 14, 2018

During and after pregnancy a mother will feel many things. 'Normal' is usually far down the list. If you keep on going down you'll find brave and sexy. Hollie McNish, an English poet residing in Cambridge, writes about her experiences as a mother and reshuffling that list.

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Breastfeeding in public has been a controversial subject for a long time, making it almost impossible for a woman to feel comfortable doing it. In 'Embarrased' McNish is perpetually defiant and at times confused. She is made to feel embarrassed by the reaction of people who see her reveal the minimal flesh she can, when all around her her are "billboards covered in tits, and family newsagent magazines full of it". She manages to find herself sharing these intimate moments with her child in cramped toilet cubicles - memories forever tainted with the cramped discomfort and smells of piss and shit.


Nurses and midwives show the poem or video of it to new mothers. McNish's word make them feel strong, or even more powerfully for a new mum - normal. Her delivery is like Kate Tempest, minus the venom of an East London upbringing. They share the same passion, but it's the softer notes of Katie's voice that give her special access to people's minds, like a therapist sitting on the chair examining herself.


Hollie released a book, Nobody Told Me, that chronicles her time as an unprepared pregnant woman, all the way through to her child aged 3, where she has become a proud, doting mother. Beyond pregnancy she has an eye and a buckets of clever words for issues that permeate our society like celebrity worship in 'Famous for what?'. The poem came about after talking to a class about their ambitions growing up and nearly everyone had two things in common - they wanted to be famous and they didn't know what for.


A lot of the young girls idolised footballers wives and TV reality stars for their shape of their bodies and lips. Hollie knew that these young people could aspire for so much more, so in a sense, that poem is to them, and anyone else who finds themselves searching for meaning. Maybe after hearing what Hollie had to say, in the class and in the poem, they'll have a new hero - a mum, a teacher, a poet. Maybe they'll see that being brave is one of the sexiest things anyone can be and that being a celebrity is one way, but certainly not the way to live an important life.

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