Autumn 2022 – Poetry

IVF – Eugene O’Hare

praying to the God she never thought …
vicious with want.

don’t float away. your word…

When I first read this poem, it made me slightly uncomfortable. Grading poems or deciding which one should be published is a complex process. As an editor, you have a responsibility to ensure that there is diverse representation whether in terms of gender, race, class background or subject matter. IVF is a heavy subject; the poem felt too personal. Personal poetry has always unsettled me; the act of reading something that is deemed private can be disturbing. Yet I was aware that this is a poem that had been sent to us so that we could consider it for publication, and ultimately, this is a topic we need to be able to openly discuss.

Women wanting to have babies, men wanting to have babies and the consequent agony of not being able to, is something fundamental to our very existence. This is a situation that a lot of us face, and despite technological advancement, conceiving can still be quite a challenge. Somehow in these cases, men are often delegated to the passive position of an observer, a helpless outsider. But the idea of a narrative that is generally dominated by women being delivered by a man instead intrigued me. This poem was unconventional at its best.

In fact, the visual positioning of the word “baby” alienated from the rest of the composition provokes a sense of detachment and fragmentation from the mother body like an appendage that’s been cut off, strongly coinciding with the subject in focus. Even the action of wringing hands and the vivid metaphor of the floating sponge is fascinating in how it creates juxtaposition. The poem is loaded with several sensory images, yet it restrains itself from becoming overly emotional or melodramatic. It’s interesting how the whole narrative has been presented in a wry tone.

Shrubaboti Bose, Poetry Editor

Photo by Dương Nhân:

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