Mouths Open to Name Her, Katie Bickham's dazzling new collection, resounds with the intensity of new motherhood and confronts the relationship between mothers and their children, as she explores what it means to carry a child, even one conceived by rape or "a child born from no place, from the flame of her forgetting, / bracket of blank pages. The boy, too, was destined to forget-- / a bird from no tree branch, fish from no river, sword from no forge." Moving from the mid-1800s to 2017, these finely wrought poems grapple with how war, violence, and enslavement can disrupt our innocence. Bickham emphasizes the power of creation in spite of this: "Just picture them all," she writes, "350,000 babies, together at once, / a city's worth of them in a row or a circle or wrapped / in an acres-wide blanket, an army of innocence yawning / their first breaths over the globe, and the promise / that it will all happen again, just like this, just as imperfectly, / no matter what, / tomorrow." Mouths Open to Name Her calls forth a global sisterhood that extends from Charleston, South Carolina, and Shreveport, Louisiana, to Nice, France; Buenos Aires, Argentina; and the Serengeti District, Tanzania.
About the Author
Katie Bickham is the author of The Belle Mar, winner of the Lena-Miles Wever Todd Prize. Her work has appeared in Rattle, The Missouri Review, Prairie Schooner, Deep South Magazine, and elsewhere. She is assistant professor of English and creative writing at Bossier Parish Community College.