The Long Devotion is a collection of poems, essays, and writing prompts that celebrates motherhood and creates a space, as poet Molly Spencer has written, to “tell an unlovely truth about family life and not have to take it back.”
The poets in this book represent and describe a wide range of experiences. They write about encountering the world anew through their children; intersections of parenting and race; single parenting; adoptive, foster, and step-parenting; life with chronic illness, mental illness, and disability; and the choice to remain childless. The book is divided into four parts. “Difficulty, Ambivalence, and Joy” considers the wonder and challenges of parenting—including infertility, pregnancy, miscarriage, and life with children—and trying to write in the midst of those demands. “The Body and the Brain” explores the cerebral and bodily labor of caregiving and writing. “In the World” brings parents and their children into contact with the natural and political landscape. Finally, “Transitions” looks at how parenting and writing change as children grow up. Poems range from linear narratives and imagistic lyric to poetry comics, speculative futures, and experimental forms. Essays and poems suggest ways to write through the disruptions and chaos of family life. Prompts invite readers to use the work in this book as a starting point for their own poetry.
As candid accounts of motherhood become more prevalent across literary, pop culture, and digital spaces, the way we talk about writing and mothering is changing. Poets have long challenged traditional motherhood narratives. This book brings together a new generation of exciting and provocative voices for the first time.