The First Review of RUE!

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.”

You can read the rest of the review here.

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.

Published by Kathryn Nuernberger

Kathryn Nuernberger's latest books are THE WITCH OF EYE (Sarabande), an essay collection about witches and witch trials coming out in February 2021, and RUE (BOA, 2020), a collection of poems about plants historically used for birth control and pissed off feelings about patriarchal bullshit. The End of Pink (BOA 2016) won the James Laughlin Prize from the Academy of American Poets. Her collection of lyric essays is Brief Interviews with the Romantic Past (The Ohio State University Press, 2017). A recipient of fellowships from the NEA, American Antiquarian Society, Bakken Museum of Electricity in Life, H. J. Andrews Research Forest, She teaches in the creative writing program at University of Minnesota. Recent work appears in 32 Poems, Cincinnati Review, Copper Nickel, Gulf Coast, Paris Review, The Southern Review, and Waxwing.

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