This Country of Mothers
By Julianna Baggott
(Southern Illinois University Press, Paperback, 9780809323814, 96pp.)
Publication Date: April 2001
Enter your zip code below to find indies closest to you.
A mosaic of memories, the poems of This Country of Mothers recollect Julianna Baggott’s experiences as both mother and daughter. With wit, compassion, aggression, and anxiety, Baggott examines her maternal history. She recalls moments of creation and destruction in her life, times of elation and of desperation that mold her as both a woman and a poet. This affecting study of motherhood is framed in issues of Catholicism and of poetry itself, challenging and espousing the roles of both. Throughout her poems, Baggott’s personal experiences embrace universal themes to birth poems in a language and style that is both powerfully feminine and accessibly human.
Julianna Baggott received her M.F.A. from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. She has held fellowships and scholarships from the Delaware Division of Arts, the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, Ragdale Foundation, and Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference. Her poems have been published in Poetry, The Southern Review, and Best American Poetry 2000. She is the author of Girl Talk, a novel, which has been translated into five languages. She lives in Delaware with her husband and three children.
Against a backdrop of family stories, Julianna Baggott draws themes as sharp as razors. She is an accomplished poet of the eye and ear, of the definitive feminine experience, and her poems of private life are expansive enough to suggest a vision of a political and historical era. If Baggott's large subject is memory and, especially, its defaults, the clarity that so many of her characters seek to deny is her great virtue. Poems like The Annunciation: Our Mothers at Church” and The Dead Must Disappear or Join a Story” might be admired exclusively for their technical skills, but they are also marvelously accessible. This Country of Mothers announces a poet of substantial powers.”Rodney Jones, author of Elegy for the Southern Drawl
In Julianna Baggott's This Country of Mothers, a distant and uncaring god is always near. Baggott's world is haunted by blood, miscarriage, suicide, and family loveand set against the world of the Bible. In one striking poem the speaker embarrasses and tires Jesus himself by telling him how a woman resigns herself to joy’ because she knows her body will be ripped open’ in childbirth. And when Jesus, exhausted by her rant (I've gone too far’), lies down on the sofa, she covers him with a white sheet and takes care of him. In these large, passionate, compelling poems, the speaker's family and the holy family merge in love and sufferingwholly family, wholly loved, wholly suffered for.”Andrew Hudgins, author of Babylon in a Jar: New Poems
Julianna Baggott has a fierce imagination which probes the ordinary details of a woman's life and lights up both the sacred and profane. In a poem called Blurbs,’ she half facetiously hopes for the words sexy,’ elegance,’ and bite’ to be applied to her work. Happily, in this book, she earns all three.”Linda Pastan, author of Carnival Evening: New and Selected Poems 19681998