Mother is a Body
Author: Brandi Katherine Herrera
Publisher: Fonograf Editions (2021)
Sonic and typographic experimentation collide in this book-length poem in seven sections. Mother is a Body is a visceral and immediate exploration of the female body, and that which is continually forced upon it, as Herrera considers what it means to be mothered, and to mother in return.
Through a cyclical process of imagining, conceiving, assigning, emptying, Mother is a Body at once renounces and reveres the notion of the sacred feminine, to illustrate ìmotherî in her many actualities—a complex figure, at times unsightly, that both is and isn't what we most often ascribe to her as an archetype of the divine.
Overseen by Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, Clarice Lispector, Miriam Medrez, and Yoko Ono, Herrera pieces together material excavated from within Instagram's endless scroll, Wikipedia's citations, and even the U.S. Department of Agriculture's archives to create a layered inscription—musically, emotionally, philosophically—to the idea of motherhood, and the children she never had.
"These poems are MOTHERCONSCIOUSNESS. Herrera’s patterns and formations are a guiding intelligence and thrilling. Artphoric and literamatic. Is it okay to say this book is thrilling? When I read it I felt I had recouped a will inside my psyche to be better at living among others and pain. That direct challenge to the WORLD and its IMPOSSIBILITIES provided wild relief. What is a mother but / another way to empty / ourselves into ourselves"
"In this powerful and expertly observed collection, Brandi Katherine Herrera grapples with the terrible teleology forced on the female body. Mother is a Body, and Mother is form that perpetually folds into her function. Whether a woman rejects or accepts this function by having a child is beside the point: either way, she is estranged from herself. Herrera has kicked open the hope chest of received ideas to free the living woman locked inside, and to ask the (still) radical question: who is she? Who is she, if not an image on endless scroll, captioned by one or another cliché? Is she more than 'a language without / articulation,' or umbilicus to a child? Who would she be if untethered from these 'purposes'? Is such a woman possible?"
"Brandi Katherine Herrera’s writing is so piercing and so beautiful. Meaning is questioned, meaning is made and shattered–all markers of a singular yet vast relationship to the body, to the mother, to the self, and to the lines of flight and multiplicities of the word and the image we should all be considering."