Belieu, Erin: The Contemporary Woman Poet Who Calls It Like She Sees It

I first thought I’d put Elizabeth Barrett Browning or Elizabeth Bishop for the letter B in this A2Z Blogging Challenge. However, when I reread How do I love thee… by Browning or ‘One Art’ by Bishop, I found them dated.

Diving into contemporary women’s poetry, I was lucky enough to find Erin Belieu. The title of this poem intrigued me, as a mother, and it did not disappoint. Read it for yourself.

Against Writing about Children by Erin Belieu

When I think of the many people
who privately despise children,
I can’t say I’m completely shocked,

having been one. I was not
exceptional, uncomfortable as that is
to admit, and most children are not

exceptional. The particulars of
cruelty, sizes Large and X-Large,
memory gnawing it like

a fat dog, are ordinary: Mean Miss
Smigelsky from the sixth grade;
the orthodontist who

slapped you for crying out. Children
frighten us, other people’s and
our own. They reflect

the virused figures in which failure
began. We feel accosted by their
vulnerable natures. Each child turns

into a problematic ocean, a mirrored
body growing denser and more
difficult to navigate until

sunlight merely bounces
off the surface. They become impossible
to sound. Like us, but even weaker.

“A mirrored body growing denser and more difficult to navigate until sunlight merely bounces off the surface.” So true! Our children mirror us, often for the worse. From the liquid pool of possibility when they were young, they harden in the mirrors we have in our homes. Here’s another mom poem by her.

This poem of hers resonated with me too.

From On Being Fired Again by Erin Belieu

I’ve known the pleasures of being
fired at least eleven times—

most notably by Larry who found my snood
unsuitable, another time by Jack,
whom I was sleeping with. Poor attitude,
tardiness, a contagious lack
of team spirit; I have been unmotivated

squirting perfume onto little cards,
while stocking salad bars, when stripping
covers from romance novels, their heroines
slaving on the chain gang of obsessive love—

and always the same hard candy
of shame dissolving in my throat;

handing in my apron, returning the cash-
register key. And yet, how fine it feels,
the perversity of freedom which never signs
a rent check or explains anything to one’s family…

“Heroines slaving on the chain gang of obsessive love.” Haven’t we all been there?

This post is a part of #BlogchatterA2Z 2023.

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5 Responses

  1. The first poem on children though a bit dark definitely mirrors the truth. I liked the second poem better.

  2. Marietta Pereira says:

    Thank you for sharing these poems.An absolute pleasure to read them

  3. Namratha says:

    Thank you for sharing these poems, Nupur. Love your theme. Will be coming back for more

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