Gail McConnell – Fothermather (Ink Sweat & Tears Press)
What is astonishing here is how perfect form and subject meet. Formation is in fact the subject of these poems – the literal formation of children, and the formation of parents in their gendered roles. As an exploration of queer parenthood, this pamphlet feels timely, but never contrived. Rather, it pulses with lived experience, with what matters deeply, and as the poems form and unform, construct and deconstruct in our reading of them, we sense the even more important and sometimes magical composition happening behind the poems – that of fothermather, of parent.
Parented by ‘Notes Toward a Shellfish’, C.K. Williams’ translation of Francis Ponge, ‘Notes Pour un coquillage’. ‘Shell Notes’ is a rearrangement of this source.
Look — this multi-chambered skull is spectral
at sea. It shelters (and gives pleasure as a dwelling
to) a not-too-social mollusk. Anything —
the amorphous to the form; what is colossal
to the small (the giant over David; the cathedral
to the dust) — any sort found differing
can make for uneasiness in a being.
Animal, fish and human like a shell.
Form is adapted from elsewhere (a residue
of that place it bears). Glass from sand, city
from stone, a well out of the ground, a statue
made of bone. Sculpted things, inconceivably
there, show through at last. Adjustment is true
genius. Less man from ape, than boy from body.