When You are Born: poems by Sarah McKinstry-Brown

Sarah McKinstry-Brown's poems always strike me as being essentially female, and female in a way that is obvious to women but quite different from the way women are often portrayed in poetry. The Sarah of poems is bold, insistent, connected to other women, as in "Letter to Frida," when she says:

I'm a hunter
stalking heartbeats

[. . .]

I mistake myself for God,
for Mary,
for Sunday nights,
then for nobody;

As far as I can remember, no male poet has ever mistaken a woman for God in a poem, and the nameless, faceless women in so many poems by men are the hunted, not the hunters.

So, who's perfect, right? An adoring poem from a clueless man is better than no poem (or maybe no man) at all, I guess. But I'm glad Sarah is out there speaking the truth for women, as she also does in "1001 Loads of Laundry," contemplating the work her mother does to keep the family together, or "In the Sixth Month" or "When You are Born," considering her own impending motherhood in a lovely low-maintenance, calming kind of way, genuinely focusing on the togetherness she feels with her child. The voice in these poems is a strong, confident and warm woman's voice, unimpaired by any kind of false femininity.

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