A maternal haunting – By Anna Johnson

I began writing, for no clear purpose but from a need of some sort. And also, I think, from some notion that I could perhaps ‘make something’ of the unexpected, powerful strangeness of this experience of motherhood in which I am suddenly immersed – that something could be formed by placing these experiences a little way outside of myself (or attempting to at least). The writing kept returning, as if of its own will (though of course not – just at the behest of parts of me I am less than fully conscious of), to an idea of haunting, or multiple senses in which I experience my altered life and self as haunted. Hallucinations and ‘visions’ of imaginary objects, during and after his birth, perhaps draw unsurprising parallels with ideas of haunting, but the more mundane events of depressive episodes, repetitive activity and the altered consciousness of endless caring also Read more...

The Literary Imagination of Alice Munro

TomUe-PhotoBy Tom Ue

Back in 2008, in an article for The Underground UTSC’s Official Student Paper, I responded to a review of Canadian writer Alice Munro’s Best: Selected Stories that was published in The Calgary Herald. In it, Naomi Lakritz criticized Munro’s stories for being “choked with trivial details,” although these stories lead readers nowhere. “Alice Munro’s world is unremittingly grey,” wrote Lakritz: “It may be one of the seven deadly sins of CanLit to utter a critical word about Munro, but the sin of a scanty plot is an even bigger one. This collection can’t rightfully be called stories. They’re unsatisfying sketches of characters who wander through depressive environments, observing the idiosyncrasies of those around them. Yet, those idiosyncrasies are there simply for the sake of being there; they do not lead to climaxes or denouements.”

Quill & Quire’s Derek Weiler dismissed Lakritz’s claims, “it does Read more...

The Sins of the Mother

 by Fran Bigman

In November 2011, I was surprised—probably naively—to see a familiar plot playing out in an episode of my mother’s favourite TV show, the acclaimed Parenthood. The show features four adult siblings and their children; one of the siblings, Adam, has a pre-teen son, Max, with Asperger’s syndrome.

In this episode, ‘Missing,’ Adam’s wife Kristina has made the agonising decision to return to work after having an unplanned third child. The moment she does, Max goes missing. Adam rushes home after getting a call from Max’s sister, who was forced into babysitting. He calls Kristina 26 times, but she’s in a meeting, and there are shots of her phone lying ignored on her desk while her disoriented son makes his way through San Francisco. The show has won plaudits for its depiction of Asperger’s, but here it emphasizes his mother’s negligence.

I had noticed this pattern before Read more...

IVF as Folklore: How Poetry Can Reclaim Maternal Selfhood

by Laura Seymour

Leaflets and other official sources of information about IVF refer to it largely in biological and medical terms: the surgery, the laboratory, the ‘procedure’. But the ways in which men and women introspect IVF do not tend to take this purified medical form, where the body, or the self, is seen as a totally surgical, medical entity. Though often encouraged by the media to view medical evidence as the most objective way to see themselves (as diseased, as at risk, as ‘due for a check up’, and as bearers of symptoms and other medical signs and meanings), healthcare and fertility treatments are also experienced as affective, political, economic, historical, ethical, psychological, and aesthetic. This blog post is partly a recommendation of an incredibly beautiful book, and partly an exploration of the way in which that book’s language-use exposes the intertwining of science with the social and personal Read more...

Fictional Pregnancies Before and After the Test

Jesse_smallby Jesse Olszynko-Gryn.

Today, home pregnancy tests are cheap and ubiquitous. For countless women, these over-the-counter retail products mediate between the uncertainty of a missed period and the potentially life-changing decision either to prepare for motherhood or to seek an abortion. As artist Tracey Emin put it in her 2000 installation Feeling Pregnant, ‘I go to the bathroom, knowing that within three minutes my life might never be the same again’ (p.164). However, rapid and easy-to-use home tests have only existed since the 1980s. Before then, as now, many women first suspected they were pregnant when they recognized one of the more telltale signs: a missed period, morning sickness, sore breasts. Quickening the feeling of the first fetal movements in the fourth or fifth month of pregnancy, was typically interpreted as a sign that the fetus was alive and well, but most women would have already determined they were Read more...