I’ll be the first to admit, as a dad myself, I approach all reading and watching on the subject of fatherhood with some trepidation. We occupy a moment in the American zeitgeist when the examination of dads sets a pretty low conversational bar.
Tanya Ward Goodman, in her wonderful memoir Leaving Tinkertown, gives readers a well-crafted, compelling, and, above all, urgent narrative about losing a parent to Alzheimer’s. Goodman details the life and health decline of her father, Ross, who traveled the country painting carnival rides before settling in New Mexico and opening his own roadside attraction, which he christened “Tinkertown”: a museum of what some might call cowboy kitsch. A lover of circuses, carnivals, and tourist stop-offs such as Wall Drug, Ross was (and still is for Goodman) a larger-than-life figure.
In 2006, Andrea O’Reilly founded Demeter Press, the first press devoted to scholarly and literary works on mothering and motherhood. Since that time, Demeter has published an extraordinary diversity of titles: fiction, poetry, creative nonfiction, essays, and academic studies on topics that include incarcerated mothers, feminist economics, gender fluid parenting practices, indigenous motherhood and many, many more.
When reading the poems of Medbh McGuckian, remember what Jean Paul Sartre wrote in his essay “Why Write?”: “The creative act . . . is the conjoint effort of author and reader. . . . You are perfectly free to leave …