Adventures in poetry
Publication date 28th May 2017
Paperback, 72 pp
DCF: Poetry Collections
Jacqueline Saphra’s All My Mad Mothers explores love, sex and family relationships in vivacious, lush poems that span the decades and generations. At the heart of this collection of poems is the portrait of a mother as multitudes – as a magician with a bathroom of beauty tricks, as necromancer, as glamorous fire-starter, trapped in ever-decreasing circles and, above all else, almost impossible to grasp.
With an emphasis on the cultures of the different times, we tread a tantalising tightrope between the confessional and the invented. These astute poems step assuredly from childhood’s first exposures to the scratched records and unsuitable lovers of young womanhood, the slammed doors of daughters and sons, the tears and salted soups of friendships, and the charms of late love. All the time, incandescent and luminous as an everlasting lightbulb, at the heart of each of Saphra’s poems is a delicate filament kicking out a heavy-duty wattage.
'All My Mad Mothers, Jacqueline Saphra's new collection, traces the rites and rituals of passage across three generations. In these poems, Saphra offers her readers a dazzling cornucopia of the postures of narcissism, sad comedies of lust, guilt and self-annihilation, excruciating bohemian domesticity and the harsh realities of female destiny and aspiration, sacrificed on the altars of love, sex and art. Wonderful portraits emerge.
Yet in spite of their apparently hectic subject matter, the tone of these poems is remarkably cool, light and measured, infused with a tender wisdom. From this mature collection rises the quiet voice of a poetic 'I' in search of its truth, firm in its promise to refrain from visiting the deceptions of the past on its young, and held by the 'helpless love one creature must bear another'. This is a book about how not to live - and how to live.'
‘This whole collection can be seen as a game of I’ll-show-you-mine – a mixture of innocence and experience, playfulness, danger and unexpected consequences. It’s full of self-exposure in the confessional tradition. It’s a feminist book, unafraid to show all the messy contradictions of being a woman, especially through the figure of the mother who is beautiful and impossible: arsonist, dipterologist, confectioner. A really enjoyable, electric collection from a poet who gets better and braver.’ Clare Pollard
'Jacqueline Saphra's poems are gutsy transfusions of wondrously vivid characters, described with painterly richness. It's refreshing to read about mothers and families even weirder (or weirder in more fascinating ways) than our own - like being revived.' Naomi Shihab Nye
‘Saphra's sharp little fragments of narrative get under the skin. Though they have the vivid detail of autobiography, this clinging, sometimes stinging quality suggests that these could be many women's, maybe any woman's, stories and not just the author's own.’ Philip Gross
Download our Reading Guide to All My Mad Mothers here
Jacqueline Saphra’s first pamphlet, Rock’n’Roll Mamma was published by Flarestack in 2008 and her first full collection, The Kitchen of Lovely Contraptions (flipped eye, 2011)) was developed with funding from Arts Council England and nominated for The Aldeburgh First Collection Prize. A book of illustrated prose poems, If I Lay on my Back I saw Nothing but Naked Women, was published by The Emma Press in November 2014. This was developed into a performance piece with music and won Best Collaborative Work at the Saboteur Awards 2015. She teaches at The Poetry School.