This extraordinary anthology of 65 poems examines the relationship of parents to their grown children from the parents’ point of view. The poets are well known (among these, Grace Paley, Ruth Stone, Kumin, Maxine , Marilyn Hacker, Alicia Suskin Ostriker, Linda Pastan), and lesser known, female and male ( Dick Allen, Raymond Carver, Hayden Carruth, and Robert Creeley), but all poems deal head on with situations that often confront parents.

Situations examined are: the addiction of grown children ("To My Daughter"), their illnesses ("Pittsburgh," "Anorexia"), their own visible aging ("The Ways of Our Daughters"), the frustration of poor communication ("Lowater Bridge," "Harmonies for the Alienation of My Daughter," "Listen," "Potentially Fatal Toes," "Letter to a Son I Once Knew"), the way parents aren’t really the people their children think they are ("The Children"), and the joy when, even for a moment, love and safety reign ("Time, Place, and Parenthood," "Visual Ritual").

In these poems parents stand at the doorway and watch their children caring for their own children ("Sometimes," "Practicing") and they invoke family histories ("The Blessing," "Girl Children," "On an Old Photograph of My Son"). They dread the ringing of the phone ("Hours After Her Phone Call," "Long Distance Call from the Alone & Lonely") and they worry over children’s marriages, physical pains, and the disasters in their lives that parents cannot fix but feel they might have caused ("What I Need to Tell You," ""Letter: Thursday, 16 September," "Love is Not Love").


Sondra Zeidenstein says "In the last thirty years, literature has transformed African-American experience, gay and lesbian experience, most aspects of women’s experience, including, through hundreds and hundreds of poems, our complicated relationships with our mothers and fathers. But rarely have I found this segment of human experience, the parenting of grown children, in poems. It simply wasn’t part of the continuum."

This moving and emotionally honest anthology corrects this void. Any one of these poems might be used to spark discussion, to re-vision the interactions between parent and grown child, to reassure parents that no matter what emotions they are feeling, fearing, or carrying, they are not alone.


Chicory Blue Press

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Sondra Zeidenstein

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