Today dear readers I am reviewing I Have Grown Two Hearts (Published By The Hedgehog Poetry Press 10th Aug. 2020) By Zoë Sîobhan Howarth-Lowe. A big thank you to the author for sending me a copy to review, always appreciated.
I Have Grown Two Hearts
“My thoughts have taken my blood and bones, spun them into life,” writes Zoë Sîobhan Howarth-Lowe in this, her second book of poems. And what poems they are, celebrating parenthood and children in all their forms: struggled for in IVF clinics, nursed through their wakefulness, lost. Zoë captures so many moments “freeze dried” from her own and othersʼ children, beginning in “that soft space, the hollow house, dreaming itself full” and sometimes ending sadly, leaving the bereft “striding outwards”. The book ends with the parent parented as Zoë celebrates her own father and the gradual shift we take in exchanging our roles. Zoë Sîobhan Howarth-Lowe is a poet to be reckoned with, blending rich language with the familiar, and this book is a must for anyone who loves poetry and family.
Editor, “Love is the Way Bark Grows”
About The Author
Zoë is a Poet and Mum from Dukinfield with an MA in Poetry from Bath Spa University. Her first pamphlet ‘Love is the way bark grows’ came out with Half Moon Books in June 2019. Her work has appeared in Anthologies and Journals including For the Silent, Green Fields, Atrium, Ink, Sweat and Tears, Picaroon, Algebra of Owls, Magma, Bonnie’s Crew and Marble. She is currently touring the UK Spoken Word scene and has headlined at various nights including: Waffle, BLERoom, Word Club, Jackanory and Poems,Prose and Pints.
This collection of poetry focuses on the raw beauty of pregnancy and giving birth to life. All Mothers can strongly relate as there are poems on ultrasounds, the dreaded glucose test and that thing we often get…oh what’s it called again?…AH Baby brain. And not forgetting of course the many, many sleepless nights that await you.
There were moments of hope woven throughout Howarth-Lowe’s poetry as she expressed the long painful waiting with IVF. All building to see that moment, the movement of little arms and legs kicking on a screen. It’s a surreal experience to see this tiny life growing inside you and Howarth-Lowe captures the emotions and senses exquisitely. It tugs at your heart, bringing a smile and small tear to your eye. I instantly remembered the first time I saw each one of my babies dancing about on the screen. It’s a moment that is difficult to put into words but I believe that Howarth-Lowe has achieved this effectively in her poetry.
This collection brought back a lot of memories of being pregnant. When I read Glucose Test I could physically feel the needle going in and relived those painful moments from my own experience. The same for I Have Grown Two Hearts. I was reminded of how much takes over the human body when you become pregnant. The stretch marks, getting bigger and feeling those big kicks from tiny legs. It was an enjoyable stroll down memory lane and made me smile at how similar, yet different pregnancy can be to everyone.
There are also themes of not only creating life in this collection, but watching it grow and learning to slowly let go. It’s something all parents have to eventually do as one day our children will grow up, become more independent and no longer need our assistance with little tasks such as brushing their hair. In Plaiting Rapunzel’s Hair she talks of how her daughter no longer has baby curls and will soon have to teach her to brush her own hair. She’s not ready to let go just yet. It’s highly relatable as we all struggle as parents to cut the apron strings. We created this life, grew them inside of us, raised them and then one day have to watch them fly away. It’s heartbreaking but you also feel a sense of pride as you watch your child flourish and go on to do great things.
The last poem in this collection Image On A Brass Lion had me in tears. As is often the case in life, it’s ironic. The parent and child roles switch and the child takes on the parent role. Old age often requires a little assistance and just as they were there for us, we in turn are there for them. It’s a touching moment and made me realise how short life truly is. Blink and in a moment we have gone from tantrumming toddler to cradling new life and looking after old. It was touching and melted my heart into a big squishy puddle of goo.
I give I Have Grown Two Hearts By Zoë Sîobhan Howarth-Lowe a Four out of Five paw rating.
A beautiful collection that brought a comfort and warmth that reminded me of the early days of motherhood. The worry, the stress but also the love and quieter moments that will stay with me for the rest of my life. Beautiful.
Hop hop wiggle wiggle