Nobody Told Me: Poetry and Parenthood Paperback – 16 Feb 2017
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The world needs these poems - and so does every parent . . . Interspersed with passages of spiky, penetrating prose, they offer a series of vivid snapshots of the highly emotional, frequently paranoid and always sleep-deprived experience of the first-time parent . . . The world needs this book. It should be required reading for anyone thinking of having a baby, or even anyone who knows someone who is thinking of having a baby. And I can't help wondering if these islands would be a happier and more pleasant place to live if Nobody Told Me was made a compulsory sex-ed set text in our schools. Politicians, please take note (Scotland on Sunday)
The things no one tells you before you have a baby are numerous - Hollie McNish turns them into epic poems about the transformation of your body and Mr Whippy vans. You'll learn a lot (Grazia)
McNish does not shy away from discussing the pain, emotional and physical, the fraying of self that comes with sleep deprivation, the poo, snot, seepages and leakages, but she also captures the bliss and wonder. Her rhymes have a driving quality, urgent words pinning down fleeting feelings, and her prose is warm and conversational, like speaking to a friend (The Observer)
From a poem about morning sickness to a story about enduring a public toddler tantrum, [Hollie McNish] provides beautifully written solidarity covering both the trials and the joys of being a parent (10 Best Parenting Books Independent)
Hollie's poems are deep and delicate. They move across you in a way that's so gentle you almost don't realise how they've gone straight for the gut till you're thinking of them, by accident, days later. She writes with honesty, conviction, humour and love. She points out the absurdities we've grown too used to and lets us see the world with fresh eyes. Her poetry is welcoming, galvanising and beautiful. She's always been one of my favourites (Kate Tempest)
It's a moving and profoundly personal account. Yet at the same time, Nobody Told Me offers an insight into the shared, unspoken experiences of many mothers. McNish describes Nobody Told Me as 'All the things I couldn't talk about.' It feels like time that we started talking (The Skinny)
Her poetry has never shied away from issues of gender, race, commercialism and parenthood but it always delivers touching and accessible insights, and this book will surely do the same (The Big Issue)
Winner of the Ted Hughes Award for New Work in Poetry 2016See all Product description
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Hollie McNish chronicles the time leading up to and the first three years of her child (whom she calls Little One). She is painfully honest about the time leading up to the birth - how her figure changed, how her emotions changed, and the sheer pain of childbirth. We are right in there, in the birth-room, as the baby emerges and is placed into her hands for the first time.
She continues with an account of the first years of life - the pain of breast-feeding, the lack of sleep, the constant strain of listening out for her daughter, and the pain of struggle with a boyfriend who wants sex after a certain period when she obviously isn't interested. There are occasions when she clearly cannot copy, and relies on boyfriend and parents to help her out. But the impression we get is of her inner strength, borne out of a desire to record her thoughts in prose and poetry, which is here used as a means of creatively manipulating language to express feelings. The poems are highly emotional, whether expressing pain, pleasure, dislike, or the sheer indifference of most people to the problems associated with bringing up young children. Anyone daring to express their dislike of noisy children after reading this book deserves to be shot.
The book continues with chronicling day by day the stresses of bringing up a child; how does Hollie cope with changing needs; how she still breast-feeds if necessary, in defiance of received wisdom, how she copes with the mental stress of taking Little One to playgroup for the first time, and how she meets lots of other mothers experiencing similar problems to take advice from. Child-rearing can be a lonely job, but a problem aired is always a problem shared.
The book is both entertaining yet practical, a valuable guide to anyone having children as well as a literary classic in its own right. I'd recommend it to anyone.
"Nobody Told Me" tackles so many issues to do with stereotyping and stigma, and does so urgently and earnestly.
It is a book every young person (of both genders) should read. I learnt more about birth and raising a kid in this than I ever did in school or from other people - I realised there was an awful lot that, as a 24 year old woman, I still didn't know, or I had never questioned - quite simply because "nobody had told me", or some things are just "not talked about." Hollie Mcnish, however, does not hold back.
I plan to buy 'Plum' next and hope to see her when she gigs local to me.
She has such an ability to sum things up and express ideas, emotions and incidents so succinctly that it leaves me speechless for a few minutes sometimes. Because I'm left thinking - 'Yes! That's exactly what I think/thought/feel/felt/was going to say'
This book is perfect for anyone embarking on pregnancy or motherhood or reflecting back on the first few years particularly.