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Eleanor Jackson, Gravidity and Parity

WINNER of the Small Press Network Book of the Year 2022

Highly Commended in the 2022 Victorian Premier's Literary Awards

Highly Commended in the ASAL Mary Gilmore Award 2022

'Gravidity and Parity [...] [uses] poetry to shine a light into the isolation of pregnancy and birth. Poetry becomes a natural language for capturing everyday experiences in the strangeness of 2020. The slow time of lockdown intensified by the slow time of pregnancy creates an aura of noticing everything, while the hyper-vigilance of scanning the media environment in 2020 is a poignant juxtaposition to the hyper-awareness of the deep interiority of the pregnant body. The medicalisation of pregnancy resonates with the themes of the pandemic in interesting ways, reminding us how much life and death (in their strange intimate dance) is outside our control; sometimes it seems as though the whole of society is constructed to conceal this fact. So often in literature the pregnant body is a metaphor, representing myriad social anxieties and expectations about gender, humanity, the future. Here the body is the body, and the realities of pregnancy, labour, care and birth are relevant to the 100% of people who have ever been born. This is a deeply human and moving collection, and approachable for those who don’t usually read poetry.' SPN Book of the Year 2022 judges.

Gravidity and Parity explores the narrative opportunities of pregnancy loss, pregnancy and early motherhood set against the unfolding experience of the COVID 19 pandemic.

With bleak humour, crisp language and the intricate realities of the body, Gravidity and Parity considers the natal taboo while documenting the strange, performance of life celebrated, mourned, connected and disconnected under lockdown.

'Eleanor Jackson’s Gravidity and Parity sets up an intricate narrative structure that follows the progress of pregnancy, at first as a story of loss, and then another one of birth then early motherhood. The poems are as varied in form – verse and prose poem, scattered fragment and formal structure – as they are in theme, and the book is as animated and intense as the birth process it writes about. It’s not simply a book about pregnancy, however, as all life intrudes including the current pandemic. And, yes, of course, all of us have been birthed. The book, given its title, deftly counterpoises the idea of pregnancy and equality, in other words, what is equal and not equal in the process of childbearing, what contradictions and boundaries make up this process. Jackson skilfully tempers the technical with observational clarity, wit and irony. As she writes, ‘all living, / all love is mongrel work’. This bracing and moving book engages, sometimes fearlessly, then playfully, with what it means to make life in all its intricacies and intimacies.' ASAL Mary Gilmore Award 2022 Judges' report

'Gravidity and Parity examines its subject broadly, deeply and maturely. It is likely to reward repeated reading' Westerly (read more)

'This collection pays tribute to the things that are "blemished and fundamental." Those that cannot be contained by our meagre narratives about pregnancy and motherhood. Nor should they be. A book like this should be read by everyone who was mothered/is mothered/does mothering. By every body that has held another body within it. Or hopes to. Jackson expands on our ideas of pregnancy and motherhood, fully acknowledging the space between what we are told it should be, and what it actually is. By insisting on other ways, different stories, Jackson ushers us into a world that is terrible and beautiful in equal measures, and at the same time.' – Natalie Kon-yu 

Eleanor Jackson is a Filipino Australian poet, performer, arts producer and community radio broadcaster. She is the author of A Leaving (Vagabond Press) and her live album, One Night Wonders, is produced by Going Down Swinging. Eleanor is committed to developing and hosting events and experiences that showcase the diversity of both poetic language and writers and audiences. She is the producer of the Melbourne Poetry Map and a former Editor in Chief of Peril Magazine, Board Member of Queensland Poetry Festival and Vice-Chair of the Stella Prize. She is currently Chair of Peril Magazine, an online magazine committed to celebrating Asian Australian arts and culture.

Eleanor Jackson in conversation with Fiona Wallace as part of the SPN Book of the Year Award. Read more ...

Eleanor Jackson, Gravidity and Parity
2021. 148mm x 210mm. 96pp. 
ISBN 978-1-925735-25-3
Release date: July 2021

This project has been assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council, its arts funding and advisory body.

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