Kate Cayley's Reading Recommendation:
The Outer Wards by Sadiqa de Meijer
I’ve been thinking a lot about domestic life, meaning the things that remain private, invisible, and stubbornly outside of the context of institutions. The things that happen in the cracks and in “spare” moments, the time spent with young children, how to understand motherhood without the sentimental trappings often given to it, what is worthwhile time. The Outer Wards is a collection of poetry that looks at place, language, motherhood, and illness. It is, I think, the best collection I’ve ever read about domestic life and domestic labour related to child-raising, to being with children, to being in and deeply observing a neighbourhood, and, extrapolating from that, being in a body, a city, a country, multiple countries, multiple histories, multiple languages, and, looping back, being in your body, which grows ill, is fragile, will someday die. De Meijer is a poet who manages to balance something recognizable to anyone who’s ever spent time caring for a young child with an absolutely granular specificity. You see and smell and feel as she does, in a way that both lodges in your own life and is particular to hers.
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