In honor of Mother’s Day this weekend, we’ve selected some great books to explore for the occasion. Some of these collections are by mothers, some of mothers, and all portray the importance, influences, and challenges of the role.
You and Yours, poems by Naomi Shihab Nye (2005)
Sewing, Knitting, Crocheting
(Mother’s Day 1999)
A small striped sleeve in her lap,
navy and white,
needles carefully whipping in yarn
from two sides.
She reminds me of the wide-angled women
filled with calm
I pretended I was related to
In the next seat
a yellow burst of wool
grows into a hat with a tassel.
She looks young to crochet.
I’m glad history isn’t totally lost.
Her silver hook dips gracefully.
And when’s the last time you saw
anyone sew a pocket onto a gray linen shirt
Her stitches must be invisible.
A bevelled thimble glitters in the light.
On Mother’s Day
three women who aren’t together
conduct delicate operations
in adjoining seats
between La Guardia and Dallas.
Miraculously, they never speak.
Three different kinds of needles,
three snippy scissors, (in the old days,
when you could carry scissors and knives),
everybody else on the plane
snoozing with The Times.
When the flight attendant
offers free wine to celebrate,
you’d think they’d sit back,
chat a minute,
tell who they’re making it for,
trade patterns, yes?
But a grave separateness
has invaded the world.
They sip with eyes shut
and never say
Look at us
May your thread
The Collected Poems of Lucille Clifton 1965-2010 (2012)
Known for her tremendous relationship with her children, including her three daughters who played an integral part in the publication of her Collected Poems, Lucille Clifton writes profoundly of her family life: her children and grandchildren, her husband, and her own mother who had such a deep and powerful influence on her life as a woman and a poet. The culmination of a 40-year career by one of America’s most revered poets, The Collected Poems of Lucille Clifton 1965-2010 combines all of Lucille Clifton’s published collections with 69 previously unpublished poems. An insightful Foreword by Nobel Prize-winning author Toni Morrison, and a comprehensive Afterword by noted poet Kevin Young, frame Clifton’s lifetime body of work, providing a definitive statement about this major American poet’s career.
Sleeping with Houdini, poems by Nin Andrews (2007)
Writing of “mother” in much of this collection, Nin Andrews starts from the premise that life on Earth is suffering, and that a large part of daily life and art is a search for an escape from this essential truth. Sleeping with Houdini is a kind of “inscape” of a girl’s life, an inside look at her fantasies and fears, her wishes and dreams, a collection in which Houdini becomes a metaphor for her longing. A mother’s presence, and the questions a young girl asks of her, is a constant in this book.
Refuge, poems by Adrie Kusserow (2013)
While Adrie Kusserow, a poet, mother, and anthropologist, probes culture and globalization with poems about Sudanese refugees based in Uganda, Sudan, and the United States, especially the “Lost Boys of Sudan,” she also struggles with how to respond to suffering, poverty, and the brutal aspects of war having brought her children into this larger global arena.
Take the opportunity to explore these outstanding works by mothers, and of mothers, this Mother’s Day.