The Grand Permission: New Writings on Poetics and Motherhood
Edited by Patricia Dienstfrey and Brenda Hillman, Forward by Rachel Blau du Plessis
Wesleyan University Press

The essays impose form on the formless experience of motherhood, acknowledging the ways in which poetry imposes its own forms, also partial but also true. Dale Going, in "Poetma," writes that mothering helped her writing, as it forced her to "act as if I knew more than I did" (227). So, the form creates the content, enables it -- and then doubles back on itself, as she also notes: "My daughter's becoming a mother . . . released me. The cycles of motherhood and daughterhood have become more fluid. I can be with her now and still contain my girlhood, not just hers. We can be several ages, several selves, at once" (230). Thus, the roles we assume, the forms we choose, are not permanent, perhaps, but enable each otherReviewed by Libby Gruner in Literary Mama

I’ve just received my copy of THE GRAND PERMISSION: NEW WRITINGS ON POETICS AND MOTHERHOOD. It looks pretty incredible…Some of these names are well-known, some I’ve never heard of. But its clear they (we) are white, black and other, straight/gay, coupled/single, & up and down the age brackets. Browsing, it looks as if this book is full of prose that is itself poetry. And not just how to cope with having a baby and trying to write–that’s there but also essay after essay about how motherhood changes the mother’s sense of language and form, how "each word in its plenitude marked the site of a wound" (Forche), "that the line of my poems has grown longer and stranger because of the ways she’s altered my life" (Muske-Dukes), "Interrruption is a method of form-giving" (Berssenbruge), "Language is female" (me)… Quotes chosen randomly. And so on and much much more. A big sense of experiment and experience. The book is from Wesleyan, & I can’t wait to read it all. –Alicia Ostriker