Christy Davids with Pattie McCarthy

Pattie McCarthy and Christy Davids
Pattie McCarthy and Christy Davids

Pattie McCarthy is the author of six books and over a dozen chapbooks. Her newest book, Quiet Book (Apogee), explores intersectionality as a state of being. In this interview, McCarthy speaks on poetry and motherhood, the public and the private self, the realities of her writing practice, and on the feminist politics at play in teaching, thinking, and composing. Quiet Book is due out in January.

Christy Davids: With such concision and frustrating—yet non-judgmental—honesty, you say “no subject offers / a greater opportunity for terrible / writing than motherhood.” Here is the embodied experience you were biologically built for, don’t write about it. Here is that which is life altering / body altering, don’t write about it. Here is the life of other lives and you, don’t write about it – and, in fact, be prepared to bear the consequences of being labeled a woman who writes about motherhood because there will be consequences. I wonder if this is a direct address to the readers, to the field; I wonder if it is a personal reminder and if that reminder comes with sadness or fury or triumph. Quiet Book (Apogee, January 2016) explores so beautifully the domestic: domestic labor, domestic lives fixed in paint, the day to day domesticities that are always occurring with so many other things so as never to be singular or definitive that I can’t help but wonder if this is a refusal—is it?