It means so much to me that the first review of RUE was written by Karen Craigo, the poet laureate of my home state of Missouri (and the landscape that forms the backdrop for the book). It also means a lot to me that Craigo understood and appreciated the way this book was born of myriad interlocking misogynies, including those in the medical profession and those surrounding the experience of motherhood.
Craigo writes: “Although I’m going on and on about the rhetoric here, don’t think for a moment that Nuernberger doesn’t get personal. Within the bounds of these arguments, the speaker of these poems talks about her workplace politics (and I absolutely love that she writes about this topic), or she calls out a townsperson who is too touchy-feely at the coffee shop, or she indicts an obstetrician… I know so many mothers who have part of this story to tell — a birth plan mocked and ignored, with no chance that it will be put into effect — but the story told here, of a doctor physically hurting the speaker, goes much further.”
Karen Craigo, by the way, writes with wit and painful honesty in her book, No More Milk, about motherhood and fertility. I’d also like to shout out Dominique Christina’s Anarcha Speaks about the violence at the core of the OBGYN profession and how the field is based on James Marion Sims’s torturous experiments on Anarcha and other enslaved people.
Other poets who have written important and deeply moving books about what it is like to in this culture with a uterus include:
Elizabeth Alexander, Antebellum Dream Book
Lucille Clifton, Next
Olena Kalytiak Davis, The Poem She Didn’t Write and Other Poems
Jennifer Givhan, Landscape with Headless Mama
Brenda Shaughnessy, Our Andromeda
Rachel Zucker, Mothers
I’m grateful for all of these poets who provide models for how to talk and think about the experiences of living inside a body that is sometimes fragile and sometimes treated like a target.