Literary Mama writing about the many faces of motherhood
January, 2010

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This month, Literary Mamas are taking time to understand our species, explore poetry, decode relationships, and cope with the symptoms of ADHD. Enjoy one of these books today!

Download the list to find it fast at your local bookstore or library.

Heather Cori, Columnist, writes, "I just finished a great book called What Shamu Taught Me about Love, Life and Marriage by Amy Sutherland. As a writer on assignment to study exotic animals and their trainers, Sutherland began to apply the lessons she learned to her own species and, in particular, her husband. From positive reinforcement to new tank syndrome, I have started to look at my interactions with my students, colleagues and family differently. Just today I had to grit my teeth and remind myself to ignore the behavior I didn't want with my teenage son just like progressive marine animal trainers. As I finished the book, I felt like I had recaptured my childhood love of Wild Kingdom and deepened my appreciation for my own inner animal."

Creative Nonfiction Co-Editor, Kate Haas, shares, "I'm reading Nicholson Baker's The Anthologist. Paul Chowder, a poet of some renown who hasn't done a lot lately, is up in his barn loft, procrastinating on the introduction to an anthology of rhymed poetry he's putting together. That's the plot, essentially. But oh, how delectable his procrastination is! Chowder muses about poetry (why iambic pentameter isn't as primal as we were taught), reveals delicious bits of gossip about famous and little-known poets, and reveals himself as a cantankerous, insecure, and ultimately loveable guy. Most of all, he is inspiring me to rush to the library and look up the poetry he writes about so passionately."

Caroline Grant, Editor-in-Chief and Columnist, says, "I loved Good Things I Wish You by A. Manette Ansay. The protagonist, Jeanette, is trying to write an historical novel about the long friendship (or was it more?) between composer Johannes Brahms and pianist Clara Schumann. The novel moves back and forth between Clara's story and Jeanette's, interspersing the text with photo-collages of Clara's letters, diaries, Jeanette's photographs and drafts, etc. Both Clara and Jeanette are mothers, and of course artists, and their reflections on combining motherhood and creative work were fascinating to me."

Literary Reflections Co-Editor, Christina Marie Speed, shares, "I just finished Born to be Wild: Freeing the Spirit of the Hyper-Active Child by Kristi Meisenbach Boylan. For several weeks, I felt my older son exhibited many of the qualities associated with ADHD. So did his teachers. After our family doctor assured us he was just growing through a phase, and possibly bored in class, I still needed just a little more reassurance. I stumbled upon this title in the self-help section at our local library. The book reads like a conversation with another mother, not a medical journal. This quote sums Ms. Boylan's approach (and one with which I attempt to align): 'I believe what we really need to do is learn how to integrate the shadows with the light, the bad with the good, and the negative with the positive behavior. We must embrace all of our child's traits, not just the ones that we perceive to be of value. For all characteristics, both good and bad, for the essence of the divine nature. Without their impulsive behavior, there is no natural intuition. Without their daydreams, there is no imagination or creativity. And without their obstinacy there is no perseverance.' Now when my older child is having one of his days, instead of throwing my hands in the air and raising my voice, I take a deep breath and embrace his personality."

Christina Marie Speed writes poetry and creative nonfiction. Her work has appeared in a variety of online and print publications, including Caper Journal, The Minneapolis Star-Tribune Online, and The View From Here. She lives with her husband and two sons in a sunny fourth-floor walkup in Brooklyn, New York.

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