Featured Poetry from JMI: Beth Ann Fennelly

Each issue of the Journal of the Motherhood Initiative for Research and Community Involvement (JMI) features a folio of poetry.

Here’s an excerpt from Beth Ann Fennelly’s poetry (Folio for JMI 5.1 Mothers and History).

Beth Ann Fennelly is the author of three poetry books—Open House, Tender Hooks, and Unmentionables—as well as Great with Child, a book of nonfiction. Fennelly also writes essays on travel, culture, and design for Country Living, Southern Living, the Oxford American, and others. She has won grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Mississippi Arts Commission, and United States Artists.

“In this brief selection, . . . readers encounter the familiar terrain of marriage, pregnancy, birth, and motherhood in the company of a refreshingly honest and witty confidante. Fennelly’s crisp style is a compelling blend of direct speech and vividly observed detail; her syntactically tight lines zero in on the moments that mothers find enthralling and confounding.”

—Jane Satterfield, Editor’s Notes

Because People Ask What My Daughter Will Think of My Poems When She’s Sixteen

Daughter, the light of

the future is apricot,

and in it you are not

the thigh-child pointing

her earnest index finger

to the yellow balloon clearing

the willows and drifting

higher, you’re the balloon. I’m

the grasping hand. Or I’m

the oo in balloon. I’ll meet you

there. I’m the brown

strings, formerly violets, you

didn’t water. I’m the hole

in the photo, you’re the un-

safety scissors. I’m the lint

in the corners of my purse

after you steal the coins,

brown-bag lunch you pitch

after leaving my house, buttons

you undo after I've okayed

your blouse. Poems

you burn in the sink. Poems

that had to go and use

your name, never mind

that soon you’ll be sixteen, hate

your name. I’m the resemblance

you deny, fat ass

you hope your boyfriends

never see. I’ll meet you

there, that is my promise

and my threat, with this

yellow balloon as my

witness, even if I’m

dead, I’ll meet you there.

from Tender Hooks (W.W. Norton, 2005)

Fennelly directs the MFA Program at Ole Miss. The Tilted World, the novel she co-authored with her husband, Tom Franklin, was published by Harper Collins in October 2013. They live in Oxford with their three children.

Visit Beth Ann Fennelly at http://mfaenglish.olemiss.edu/2012/01/06/beth-ann-fennelly-2/

For more Folio poets and poetry, see: http://www.motherhoodinitiative.org/journalmotherhoodinitiative.html