Holly Rizzuto Palker
Some days you lean in toward your family while other days the writing pulls extra weight. And there are deadline weeks when I know my magazine work won’t leave me much good energy for anything else. It’s a constant shifting, and I’ve never held myself up as an example of doing it well—but I do try very, very hard, which I think is the best that any of us can do.
For me, writing has allowed me to unpack some of the assumptions I made about who I was and what children are supposed to be and how this all works. Without writing, I think I would have been a different, probably much less happy, person, because writing allowed me to forgive myself when I made mistakes and to explore the kind of parenting person I wanted to be.
My very first poems wanted nothing more than to rub my father’s face in the truth of his shortcomings, and so that’s what they did. I wrote piece after brutal piece that strung real and imaginary fathers up according to images and metaphors and allegories for how he went wrong. But I was crafting a language for condemnation and erasure and resentment when what I needed was a language for survival, if not recovery.
I’m not sure how poetry influences my parenting, but parenting has certainly influenced my poetry. Just recently—after a reading—a woman came up to me and said: “That was the most endearing poem about poop that I have ever heard.” Only a new parent writes endearing poems about poop.
It was a bumpy start because writing a book together isn’t easy. Especially when you have no template, no point of reference, no idea what you are doing.
But the greatest gift that parenthood has given my writing is a kind of integrity. I know that my children will one day grow up and read my books, and so I feel the need to tell the truth, all the time, and with as much clarity and music as possible.
We publish profiles of writers who are mothers, writers who write about motherhood, and writers who have something to say to mothers. This includes well-known, living mama writers, of course, but also off-beat, lesser-known, not-so-obvious mama writers. Read more here.