1. What inspired you to write the poems in What Mothers Withhold?
The poems in “what mothers withhold” took about ten years to write and are largely based on my experiences with motherhood. Chronologically, the first poem is about an ultrasound of my first daughter. I write about other topics, but my poems about motherhood are my strongest work. Writing is a way to process emotions and as I shared these poems I found they resonated with many women.
2. Why was this collection important for you to write?
It’s important to share the darker parts of motherhood such as medical trauma and infertility. I worked on the manuscript over years and would add and take out poems. I am pleased that some of the poems written more recently broadened the perspective of the collection. “Chocolate Chip Cookies with Madeline L’Engle” was one of the most recent poems and it addresses the theme of protecting children, which is my most powerful urge.
3. What would you like your readers to take away from your poems?
I hope that my poems can help women connect to and process their own experiences and that it helps those who are not mothers have a deeper understanding of what mothers hold and withhold. Grief is a universal emotion, and strong writing will connect to the reader regardless of shared personal experience.
4. Please share 1-2 pieces of advice for new writers/poets.
I host a critique group and one standard piece of advice I give is to make the title work hard. Imagine a reader or editor seeing the title of a poem in a list of poems, without knowing anything about the poet. Does the title invite the reader to read the poem? The second piece of advice is to try writing in forms and with writing prompts. Both of these allow you to write about what you might not have written about, and in a more original, disciplined way.