Anthology of parenthood attracts audience

Angella d'Avignon

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City College professor and managing editor of City Works Press Kelly Mayhew, along with co-editor Alys Masek, debuted their anthology about the nuances of parenthood, “Mamas and Papas: On the Sublime and Heartbreaking Art of Parenting” at City College’s annual International Book Fair on Oct. 9.

A crowd filled the Saville Theatre to hear selections from eight different authors. The audience cooed with babies scattered throughout the crowd, bouncing on their parents’ laps, and setting the tone for a reading about the experience of parenthood.

City Works Press Former editor Arthur Salm introduced editors Mayhew and Masek.

The idea for the book was born when old friends and colleagues Mayhew and Masek, saw a need for a book that would not merely provide a how-to approach to parenting but one that would “feed our souls,” as Mayhew wrote in her introduction.

“While this book may sit in the parenting section of a book store,” Salm said, “it should be in the literature section.”

So the two put out a call to friends and writers and received 900 submissions, from which they culled more than 300 pages of work.

“Mamas and Papas” grew from a need for a book that did not merely show how to be a parent but more importantly “how it feels to be a parent,” says Mayhew.

The multi-genre anthology includes short fiction, poetry, and essays from writers of all styles and walks of life, including a few who examine the experience of not having children.

The pieces read ranged from the funny to the disgusting, as each author candidly revealed their personal position and reactions to their roles as new, defunct or seasoned parents.

“This book is about the amazement of what parenting does to your life,” said Masek before she opened the reading with a poem she penned shortly after her child was born.

Notable performances included poet Susan Webb’s reading of “Wild Sweet William,” a poem about her young son and similarly, Lorrie Zuplan, whose piece “Puberty” served as an eloquent set of field notes about her developing son-captured moments in time in poignant prose.

A funnier piece, “Unlikely Soccer Mom” read by contributor Grace Won Lynch split focus between her kid’s performance on the soccer field and Lynch’s compulsive desire to defend herself by way of defending him.

Closing out the readings, Corrine Blue read her painfully honest “Confessions,” a piece that trailed Blue’s ambivalent emotions about being a woman and a mother of four, themes of exhaustion, obligation, and sheer joy echoed throughout her performance as her newest child murmured alongside her on stage.

The anthology can be purchased at the City Works Press website or at Amazon.

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