Thursday 6 April 2023

Abi Curtis (ed.), "Blood & Cord: Writers on Early Parenthood"

About Blood & Cord: Writers on Early Parenthood, ed. Abi Curtis

A child is born and everything is made anew. In this blur of new beginnings there are tears and laughter, new words and new silences: this is an unmaking and remaking of the self. From short stories about unnerved fathers and lost mothers, to poems about ‘half-built Lego palaces’ and friends who share their deepest secrets, Blood & Cord is a raw exploration of new parenthood. Voicing silenced conversations about loss, grief, and loneliness, as well as the joys and laughter that are part and parcel of becoming a parent, the stories told within offer a refreshingly honest account of life after new life. This collection is a hand in the dark, offering comfort and solidarity to any new parent.

You can read more about Blood & Cord on the publisher's website here. Below, you can read about the editor and two sample pieces from the collection, by Abi Curtis and Liz Berry. 

About the editor


Abi Curtis is Professor of Creative Writing at York St John University. She has won an Eric Gregory Award and Somerset Maugham Award for her poetry collections, Unexpected Weather (Salt, 2009) and The Glass Delusion (Salt, 2013). She has a PhD in Creative and Critical Writing and is inspired by art, psychology, science and the environment. Her first novel, Water & Glass, a speculative climate-change fiction was published by Cloud Lodge Books in 2017. In 2022 Abi’s short fiction was commended in the Bridport, Fish and Alpine Fellowship Prizes, and a poetic sequence on the subject of a medieval anchoress, set to music by David Lancaster, was performed by the Ex Corde Vocal Ensemble.

From Blood & Cord

On my son, falling asleep 

Your tomcat face is wide, unwhiskered.
Your skull weighty as a coconut  
or the globe. Your ears: shells that sing
not the sound of a shore, but laughter
and sussi, uh, tuks, babbi. 
Your belly swells with cheese and blackberries,
heels of bread, stubs of potato. 

Air purrs inside you, engine-bright.
Milk-white canines tip the hot gums;
you feel for mine with a sharp thumb
to know what your mouth might become,
touch the sighs, the questions.
Zipped up with toes in a bunch, 
I lay you down 
heavy as a marrow 
fingers star-fishing for daytime things. Wrapped in the dark. 
Waiting for the strangest dreams.

- Abi Curtis


When we fuck in sweet darkness  
I leave my body behind, rising 
from her as smoke rises  
from the forging fire. 
Godspeed, I tell her,  
as we part like lovers 
on the threshold.  
I want to begin again, 
move as the creatures  
of the air do, birds, moths, 
ghosts shimmering 
in the empty streets, 
the theremin song of the trees
as they shed their inhibitions
against the gold light. 
The blood and jewelling 
of the body, its grief 
and burden, abandoned
like a unreadable book. 
I wish I could take you with me,  
but one of us must stay  
behind, keep watch  
upon the darkness,  
our sons’ warm limbs  
reaching like tendrils 
from their cots. 

- Liz Berry

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