Introduction to Some Murmur
I moved to Amsterdam five-and-a-half years ago, ten days before the Brexit referendum, an act of relocation that felt like running along a path in a computer game and having the tiles fall away, burn up, or turn to dust behind me. I remember seeing one of those spoof newspaper articles at the time that said: SHOCK NEWS: THOUSANDS OF BRITONS REALISE THEY ACTUALLY LOVE THEIR COUNTRY. And that felt very true; I was in love and there were things I had taken for granted. For example, an ease of being in a space; a way of inhaling the fresh, damp air after the rain; feeling connected to the history of a savoury pie eaten out of a plain paper bag on a northern-bound train. It was the physicality of the landscape I was after, the self of the groundstuff, the traces of ancient hardships that lay low in the architecture―the context by which I had been shielded and into which I had grown. Waking up to the result of that referendum felt like something had abandoned me, or me it. The details were uncertain. The evaporation of a parent. Like looking away for a moment and then looking back to find out that everyone is gone. Like the landscape wasn’t mine anymore. It never had been. Something had been there all along murmuring under the surface. Something that I thought I understood but that had in hindsight never been a part of me….
Lydia Unsworth’s collection Some Murmur was published with Beir Bua Press in October 2021. Her collection, Mortar (Osmosis), was published in summer 2021. Her most recent pamphlets are YIELD (KFS) and cement, terraces: A Manchester Enchantment (Red Ceilings). Work can be found in places like Ambit, Banshee, Bath Magg, Blackbox Manifold, Tentacular, and The Interpreter’s House. Twitter: @lydiowanie
Preview of Some Murmur
Like a Mother Writes In fragments of one-handed time we survey the day’s impressions. They put the injection in the left arm, always taking blood from the left arm. ‘Which arm do you write with?’ Like a mother writes. I lift heavy with my left side. Baby-monster on left hip. A ledge. It grows with him. My model slant, my catalogue twist. I write with whichever side I am not feeding with. Left-handed phone type. Phone held in air above baby’s head. Phone swiped behind back as baby’s eyes move over to that other life. Which is your dominant side? Stay put, baby. Comply. ---------------------------------------------------------- She is on the phone writing poetry. On the phone again. She has RSI for poetry. Insomnia for poetry. She needs WiFi for poetry. Disrupts her melatonin for poetry. ---------------------------------------------------------------- MARCHING a diary (spring 2020, or How hard it is to sustain a thing without belief) 1/ I’ve been keeping a spreadsheet throughout these adjustments, acts of kindness, that sort of thing. It’s hard to believe this is only day four. Hard to believe I wanted more time with my toddler and now I’ve got it there’s no one to share it with. Living in a country that is not mine I was always kind of hesitant in crowds, trying to second-guess which language I was about to be spoken in. Now, there’s hardly any social concern at all, no one’s even looking each other in the eye. It’s a communal spreadsheet, a shared document, and I keep checking it to see if anybody’s playing with me. We went to the park, I know the quiet parts of the city, but when I tried to show my child the goats through the fencing, she kept ramming her little bike against the gate, trying to get in. It’s closed, I said. Daycare is closed. Your friends are at home too, I said, it’s not just you. Come away from the gate.
Words of Praise
“Lydia Unsworth’s meditation on the ‘iterations of self’ resulting from her pregnancy, relocation to a new country and evolution into the role of mother-and-writer amid the backdrop of Brexit and a global pandemic, is a bold and affecting study of the fragmentation, dislocation and recalibration which occurs when that self is ‘sawn in half’, at once irrevocably altered yet in essence the same. Remarkable.”
- A J Moore; Angela Carter Prize winner from the University of Sheffield and currently researching for a PhD in literature. Collection, m[p]atriarchive, out with Beir Bua Press
“Lydia Unsworth’s collection, Some Murmur, is written in her usual dot-to-dot tone, moving between different points as though jumping between them and trying to make an overall picture of mismatched perspectives and expectations, interspersed with thoughts of recklessness. She juggles with motherhood, the body, home, writing and the world around her all at once – illustrating the life of a writing mum perfectly! I love Lydia’s language – it feels instinctive and reactive but I know she’s thought about every word.”
- Nikki Dudley; BBP author, Virginia Prize 2020, managing editor of Streetcake Magazine
“Unsworth’s latest work is a full-bodied mothership of a collection. Exploring both embodiment and the often disembodied state of motherhood, these poems are a vital and visceral dispatch from the frontline of parenting in a post-Brexit, pandemic-ridden world
Themes of change, transition, crossing boundaries / borders / bodies abound in Some Murmur. The murmured echoes of the unborn to their mother, matter taking shape and form, the muttered moans of understanding between parent and child; motherhood as luck, pluck, mutation, constraint and collage.
This collection is as varied as it is expansive, innovative in style and subject. Unsworth has gifted the reader with a series of corporeal and hyperreal milk dreams.”
- JP Seabright; poet, Assistant Editor Full House Lit.
“Lydia Unsworth’s latest collection is an extraordinary embodied exploration of the poetics of motherhood. Contending that ‘motherhood is fragmentation’, these frank and vulnerable poems both immerse themselves in the processes of experience whilst at times standing back to take intricate tracking shots of unfolding thought lines. Chief amongst their concerns are the identity perils of ‘previous selves’ or ‘selves unled’ alongside the ‘many iterations of this self I have yet to assemble’. In a ‘world that assumes everything you have is what you always wanted’ this ‘meta-motherhood’ attempts to ‘walk as if I still have meaning’, asks ‘what body / am I to love?’ and appeals to the child to ‘hold me / up, help me / face life.’ Breath-taking and heart-breaking by turns, this is a major contribution to women’s writing on pregnancy and child-rearing.”
- Scott Thurston; poet, mover and educator working in Salford, UK