Trim size: 6.000in x 9.000in
Pub Date: 03/01/2021
List Price: $21.95
Motherhood is in, but still only when composed. Although we are in another moment that has embraced motherhood as a state worthy of praise and public presence, age-old prejudices about what women should feel and do still limit how much we accept mothers out in the working world. Hysterical Water is a recklessly feminist book of poetry that intervenes, taking head-on a literary history that has contributed to the development of the pseudodiagnostic term hysteria.
This collection questions the way maternal thinking, sexuality, affect, and creativity have historically been dismissed as hysterical, reclaiming the word hysteria by arguing that women poets might, in art as in life, celebrate incongruous emotional experiences. Through literary techniques such as citation, appropriation, parody, and lyric address, Hannah Baker Saltmarsh ravages texts and documents from Elizabethan birth manuals to canonical poetry and pop culture references of the current to exploit the concept of hysteria, which has been used to constrain and silence women, as, oddly, one that can enable women to behave legitimately outside the bounds of social norms. By borrowing from the language of uncontrollable emotion, excess, cure, remedy, and cult-like obsession, these poems give shape not only to the maternal body, but also to the hysterically textual one.
—David Baker, author of Swift: New and Collected Poems
—Elizabeth Arnold, author of Skeleton Closet