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Birth: A Literary Companion Paperback – August, 2002

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Literary companionship for mothers- and fathers-to-be is the objective of this evocative collection of poetry, essays, and short stories. Kovacic and Barrett, both mothers, lamented the lack of literature that revealed the truth of the child-bearing experience, began searching, and finally identified a new genre of birth literature. The book is organized from conception through childbirth and includes a wide variety of experiences by all kinds of parents. Among the contributors are Sylvia Plath, Margaret Atwood, Rosemary Bray, Stephen Dunn, and Audre Lourde. The emotional range presented includes the trepidation, resentment, joy, and hysteria from the time the pregnancy test delivers the anticipated and/or feared news, through the pangs of actual delivery, on to the incredible machinations of breast-feeding and other parental responsibilities. The writers offer vivid descriptions of childbirth, as well as the agonizing self-doubts and accomplishments that occur every step along the way. A wonderful collection about a transforming experience, the book is sure to be thoroughly enjoyed by expectant parents. Vanessa Bush
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved


"In this marvelous anthology, a chorus of extraordinary writers has been summoned to examine the endlessly fascinating experience of human nativity. In tributes that vary from joyful to unflinching to troubled to lyrical they honor that most fundamental, most immutable truth; all births are complicated, emotionally."

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 276 pages
  • Publisher: University Of Iowa Press (August 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0877458316
  • ISBN-13: 978-0877458319
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,950,655 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Lynne Barrett is the award-winning author of the story collections MAGPIES, THE SECRET NAMES OF WOMEN, and THE LAND OF GO. She and Kristin Kovacic co-edited the anthology Birth: A Literary Companion. She has received the Edgar Award for Best Mystery Story, and Magpies was awarded the Gold Medal in General Fiction in the Florida Book Awards. Her stories appear in the new anthologies TROUBLE IN THE HEARTLAND: STORIES INSPIRED BY THE MUSIC OF BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN and FIFTEEN VIEWS OF MIAMI, and in many other books including ONE YEAR TO A WRITING LIFE, DELTA BLUES, MIAMI NOIR, A HELL OF A WOMAN, and SIMPLY THE BEST MYSTERIES. Originally from New Jersey, she lives in South Florida, where she is a professor in the MFA program at Florida International University. She also teaches at many writers' conferences around the country. You can learn more in this Bookslut interview at http://www.bookslut.com/features/2013_07_020153.php and at www.lynnebarrett.com.

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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 22, 2003
Format: Paperback
This is a beautiful book, a way back into that vivid time for parents of children no longer infants, and a companion to the newly pregnant, the heavily pregnant, and the sleep-deprived after a midnight feeding.
In their introduction, Kovacic and Barrett claim that "a well-crafted poem, story, or essay can unlock the secrets that science and society never reveal." The collection includes some well-known writers - Rita Dove, Sylvia Plath, A.S.Byatt and Margaret Atwood - but most of them, to me, are new discoveries, and writers I will now look for in other places.
The book is divided into sections, named for a piece included in each: First Stirrings, Notes from the Delivery Room, The Welcoming, and Now That I Am Forever with Child. While some pieces provoke tears of sentiment or joy, the authors included do not shy away from the scary, ugly, ironic, humorous, and sorrowful. Most newly expectant couples tend to rush out and buy the What to Expect type books, the ones detailing physical symptoms of mother and baby, all the things that can go wrong, what you should feel when, and why you should avoid sugar (well, okay, you should). This book opens up the vast new emotional territory that lies ahead for parents. I would have loved to have it as a pregnant woman, and I love reading it now.
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Format: Paperback
Being an academic as well as a childbirth educator and mother, this book bridged the divides in my life. This collection brings together some of the most powerful literary writings about pregnancy, birth and motherhood. Reading it during a transformative period in my life helped me feel connected to other mothers over time. What a great addition to my bookshelf!
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