hearing eye, 2009 £4.00
Reviewed by Paul Lee, Rob A Mackenzie and George Simmers
Some of the most memorable poems in English are about mothers—Seamus Heaney’s, “broad-lapped, with whitened nails”, George Barker’s “Sitting as huge as Asia”—and I’d bet most are written by men. My experience and reading suggest to me that the dynamic is somewhat different between mothers and daughters (as between sons and fathers) I’m surprised there is as yet no dedicated anthology: it’s almost a separate genre within the canon—vivid poems about vivid (not necessarily likeable) women. How does Lucy Hamilton’s collection compare?
Admirably, in my view. These intelligent, elegiac and often moving sonnets focus on the last five years of Marguerite Cathala Plowright’s life, but often shift back to earlier periods. The strength and warmth of the bond between mother and daughter is apparent throughout, and poignant too: Marguerite was ‘mum’ as well as ‘mother’ to her daughter. She was French, of striking looks, loved poetry, loved to sing, was heroic in the way mothers often are, and raised six children out of a marriage that (according to certain hints) was not always easy. That makes her vivid in my book.