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Her Birth by Rebecca Goss - Review

In honour of Baby Loss Awareness Week, it seemed apt to share my thoughts on Her Birth by Rebecca Goss. My supervisor Steve Ely recommended Goss and she is also a good friend of my Stand colleague Jon Glover. As a mother myself, I anticipated that this would now be even more of a tough read; it is a very difficult collection to read, but in the best possible way. Before the poems even begin, my eyes were swelling with tears; in her dedication, Goss concludes with ‘And Ella, 21st March 2007 - 5th August 2008. High-five sweetheart’. Throughout the collection Goss writes with honesty and efficiency, providing the reader with a poignant, saddening account of losing a child, navigating life with this tragedy and having another baby. Goss takes us on her journey, often rooting poems in concrete, clinical settings ‘At the coffee table, the doctor hunches to draw a heart’ and presenting bodies as machines ‘we suck it down into the machinery that made her’ sorrowful, confused at how some work and some simply do not. Many of the poems are written in couplets, adding an extra layer of sadness as this seems representative of the infinite bond between mother and child. A particularly heartbreaking poem is one which shares its name with the collection, ‘Her Birth’. Goss lets us into her own childhood ‘Walberswick, is where I holidayed, every childhood summer’ before presenting us with a truly painful scene ‘for that cold, unstoppable wave to suck the sachet clean and I ask you, She is all right now, isn’t she? She is all right?’. The collection is full of despair, mourning and reflection and unmistakably, brilliant poetics. The subject matter is complex and difficult, but is shown to us through vivd imagery, smart language and well-crafted poems. ‘Last Poem’ the finale of the collection brings a wonderful sense of hope for the future ‘let’s head for your undiscovered life, your mother’s ready now, let’s run’; accepting the past, but never forgetting. This is an extremely important and beautiful collection, a moving and necessary account of one of the most difficult traumas one has to face. Through this the reader is able to share Goss’s sorrow, to find comfort in that they are not alone and to appreciate lost and living irreplaceable children.


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