MILKED by Thommie Gillow and Hannah Teasdale
Thommie Gillow and Hannah Teasdale have had very different experiences of motherhood but like many parents have found solace through sharing. Their collaborative collection Milked explores all aspects of motherhood, from the good, the bad, the smelly, the desperate and all-consuming nature of the role to dealing with older children who have learnt which buttons to press. A brave and honest look at; periods, miscarriages, pregnancies, abortions, postnatal depression and a mother's love, this book is separated into four sections, pre-conception, miscarriage, pregnancy and birth and then the ensuing parenthood. It draws on their own lives and the lives of those around them, and owes much to every bump they have ever known. Milked for anyone who has ever thought about being a parent: whether successfully, unsuccessfully or with absolute horror at the very idea. It may make you cry or laugh or sing - whatever you do, Hannah and Thommie won't mind, they'll blame hormones.
Hannah's writing has been described as `heart-breaking', `raw', `knotty', `honest and brutal'. She does not shy away from exposing her truth, as uncomfortable as it is to write and sometimes read and perform. Having written poetry since she could hold a pen, it wasn't until 2009 that she found the confidence to share her words with a wider audience. The first two poetry slams she entered, she made the final and the third, she won. Having just completed a Masters in Creative Writing, she has two previously published poetry collections: `Fingerprints' by Poetry Space in 2013 and `Laid Bare' Burning Eye in 2016. She is currently working on a cross-genre short novel, `Sharp Things' that enters the mind of an exploited and confused 10 year old girl. Hannah uses her experience as a mother of 6 children, divorcee and lover to unashamedly power her work. She juggles facilitating writing workshops, editing, performing at poetry events and co-hosting Hammer and Tongue with a mixed ability of not making too much of a hash of being a mother. Life is no walk in the park, not for any of us. Thommie Gillow is the Regional Co-ordinator of Hammer and Tongue Bristol - a national poetry organisation that organises monthly events with touring guest poets. An English teacher, feminist and ex-single mum, Thommie brings her daughter and students up to question traditional values. In this book her poetry explores the often secretive aspects of pregnancy, birth and motherhood, the attempts to get pregnant, pain of loss and difficulties of becoming a mummy. Currently in her second marriage, Thommie has suffered many miscarriages, survived an ectopic pregnancy, dealt with post-natal depression and learnt to share her nine-year old daughter with a man who is not her father. She writes about it, teaches, talks to her daughter, watches some Netflix, then writes about it again. Thommie lectures Creative Writing in the South West, runs poetry workshops for Domestic Violence charities and has recently completed a series of commissions for the National Science Festival writing about `Women on the Moon'. She has a Masters in Creative Writing and Education and her first collection `My Stepmother Tried to Kill Me' was published by Burning Eye books in 2014.
"Intense, subtle, joyful, difficult, specific and open to all - these are poems that stay with you and tug you to return. Sitting on the train, I smiled with recognition. Later, in a cafe I fought back tears. These are open poems, frank and generous. Be careful where you read them. Thank you Thommie and Hannah for writing them down."
A collection for anyone who has a child, thinks about having a child, or once was a child, this book births an honest, raw and celebratory story of parenting. From the empty space of miscarriage to the crammed full with eight kids between them, both Thommie and Hannah marry the entirety of their experiences and offer a genuine, funny and beautiful instruction manual for life.’
Rebecca Tantony – Poetry Lecturer Bath Spa
To see the true beauty of motherhood we have to talk about the dark as well as the light and that's just what Milked does. Thommie and Hannah's raw and honest stories of their journeys show all routes it can take, it made me cry, smile and not feel alone.
Pippa Strachan - perinatal educator at the Daisy foundation WSM