Thrilled to do that thing I do on occasion – handing the blog over to someone who’s got something to say that I think’s interesting enough to want you good people to know about it. This time it’s Kayleigh Campbell who’s here to talk about her debut pamphlet, Keepsake, and to talk about motherhood. The book looks ace and I’m looking forward to digging in myself…
Keepsake: Motherhood & Me
By Kayleigh Campbell
Firstly, I’d like to say thank you to Nik Perring for inviting me to feature on his website. As an emerging writer, support like this is invaluable. My debut poetry pamphlet collectionKeepsake has just been published by Maytree Press. Perhaps I am a little biased, but it looks beautiful; better than I could ever have imagined for my debut. It’s a very personal collection of poems, which mainly focuses on motherhood, and the many highs and lows that come along with it. Maytree describe it as “a haunting debut collection, vividly illustrating the journey of a young women into parenthood. Themes of loss, love, anxiety and transition are underscored by the brutality of post-natal depression and family break-up.” which I think sums it up pretty well.
I am a mother, but I’m also a poet, a PhD researcher & freelance proofreader. As much as my days are filled with thoughts of my daughter – is she happy? is she eating enough healthy food? isn’t she just so beautiful? – they are also full of poetry musings and anxieties about life. I have countless notes recorded on my phone; snippets of ideas which I have to save until the bedtime routine is complete, providing she goes to sleep when she should do. Sometimes I forget to write ideas down and they are lost in the abyss. Sometimes I am so tired and desperately want to quit. But writing is my escape, my therapy and always has been. It was a mindful process to channel my anxiety, happiness and sadness into these poems. It’s a vulnerable endeavour, sharing personal moments, feelings and memories with strangers and those who you know. But, as much as this was a cathartic experience for me, I hoped that others would be able to relate to what they were reading. To understand how tenderness and sadness can exist in a moment. To know that, despite how much you love your child, you want to run away sometimes. To know people are not alone in anxiety and depression; we face similar mountains.
Being a mother is wonderful, and also very difficult. Being a mother, an emerging writerand a hopeful academic certainly has its challenges. In one sense, it’s easy. Easy because I am a very organised person and very fortunate; I live a comfortable lifestyle and have support around me. But, it’s also extremely challenging. It can be very lonely; being at home with a tiny human who can’t talk/really understand you can be oddly isolating. It can be quite boring. I need stimulation, I like to be busy and productive, artistic where possible. Being a mum means that some days are just filled with chasing your child around with several intervals of Peppa Pig – this isn’t always fun, surprisingly. I look forward to afternoon nap time, then feel guilty for wanting time to myself. This is the time of day when I can enjoy my lunch in peace, when I can lay for a moment or two. When I can write poems and read books, all whilst little snores drift downstairs. Those are precious moments for me. I want to be nestled up in the library at university, or attending poetry events each week. I want to feel like I’m still part of the world, not just the world within my own house. I want my daughter to stay young forever, to love me the way she does now.
I wanted Keepsake to tell the truth. To show the infinite love I have for my daughter and to show the days where I can’t cope. To tell the truth about anxiety. To show the transition, the journey into motherhood. To be honest about the past, to connect it to the difficulties I have faced. And through all of this, I could work towards peace and perhaps others reading will see a little bit of themselves somewhere along the line. I will end with a poem from the collection; one of my favourites.
The nurse, a gloved hand
and a sympathetic look.
Tremors continued to wreak havoc
on my body;
the richter scale broken.
And you were still,
Blood seeped from between my legs, then came the shit;
infantile as I edged towards motherhood. An audible pop
and the holy water came.
You followed, head first.
I looked out over the rooftops of the city; your skin on mine,
even after all this time.