REVIEW by Oliver Dixon

NWR Issue 104

The Visitations

by Kathryn Simmonds

In The Visitations , there is often an insidious feeling that – like the women with children in Larkin’s ‘Afternoons’ – something is pushing her to the side of her own life. The experience of first-time parenthood can be an overwhelming one (this reviewer speaks from the far less intensive viewpoint of the father), which not only enforces a revaluation of your own personal qualities as primary carer but also precipitates a profound questioning about the nature of the rapidly developing life you’ve brought into the world – and indeed, of the muddled, broken world you’ve brought your baby into. Albeit chiefly a period of giddy joy and gratitude, it can also be a bewildering between-time for many women, sleep-deprived, thrown back onto their own resources and isolated from adult company or conversation. It can also, of course, lead to depression.

It is to her credit that Kathryn Simmonds has been able to harness the emotional and psychological extremes of new motherhood into poems intricately balancing light and shade.

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previous review: Gretel and the Dark
next review: Recovery Position, Minim, The Paradise Commissionaire, and Lime & Winter


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