New Life (2009)

An anthology for Parenthood.

Very much about hope and beginnings, this collection explores the wonder of  birth and babies, and the comic and glorious challenges of being a parent. All the greats are here; Sylvia Plath, Laurie Lee, Marcel Proust, John Lennon.

New mothers and fathers are knocked sideways by the unexpected emotions of parenthood, and it takes writing of genius to capture the complex balance of wonder and fear. Anne Stevenson, describes in Poem for a Daughter how a baby’s first ‘razor-sharp cry’ delivers a mother to her baby... ‘The child, /tiny and alone, creates the mother’.

Peter Redgrove, another 20th-century poet, brilliantly expresses in Early Morning Feed how a new baby taps into the most powerful and primitive of emotions. After an early morning feed the father ‘returns to bed/ And feels like something, with the door ajar,/ Crouched in the bracken, alert, with big eyes/ For the hunger, death, disaster’. For any parent struggling with the peculiar emotions of new parenthood it is reassuring to know that you’re not crazy, but actually quite normal.
The Victorian writer Edmund Vance Cooke points out: ‘Children do not know how their parents love them, and they never will till the grave closes over those parents, or till they have children of their own.’

Little, Brown £10.99