Publisher: The Emma Press
At first glance The Emma Press seems to produce quaint little books complete with meticulous illustrations. This is of course true, yet beneath this exterior The Emma Press Anthology of Fatherhood also contains some seriously hard-hitting and emotionally profound poems. All aspects of fatherhood are included and under an unforgiving light. In her introduction Emma Wright says that “The book has become a snapshot of our times”.
The voices of fathers, children and wives all express themselves in a variety of poetic styles. However some kind of formal poetic techniques are usually obeyed; giving the raw emotions discussed a taught, on-the-edge feeling.
The fathers in the collection watch over their children throughout their lives, in incubators, on ultrasound screens, tragically ill, going to school or on holiday… Other viewpoints are mixed in with these- the opinions of wives, children and husbands are taken into account.
I have two favourite poems in the collection- “Digitalis” by Martin Malone and “Ultrasound” by Harry Man.
“Digitalis” is a dark poems about a father returned to youth “Between his first and third heart attack”. We know from this first line that the father is going to die; but this seems to only add to the miracle of his “sudden awareness of hip-hop and rap” and other activities of “bending life-long rules”. It is a poem that has stuck with me, and compelled me to read it over and over.
Meanwhile “Ultrasound” shows a father looking at his child’s ultrasound, and describing her as if she was a magical creature. He gazes longingly at her minuite form such as “the white artery of your (her) spine”. By the end of the poem he is imagining what it will be like when his child is born. Again- a beautiful poem bursting with emotion.
This collection could be the perfect present to, or from, a father. It tirelessly explores difficult themes with elegant language and illustrations.