Spotlight series #30 : Adrienne Gruber

rob mclennan
Oct 1, 2018 · 2 min read

Curated by Canadian writer, editor and publisher rob mclennan, the “spotlight” series appears the first Monday of every month.


These poems are from my forthcoming book, Q & A, a poetic memoir about the pregnancy, birth and the postpartum period following the birth of my first daughter. The book is divided into chronological sections that examine each time period, while also exploring the history of pregnancy and birth in North America. The book ranges in form and style and includes prose, lyric, haiku, ghazal and found poetry.

These three pieces are in the first section of the book, which focuses on conception and pregnancy. This section contains personal narrative poems interspersed with found poems that expose the misogynistic medical advice given to pregnant women a century ago, as well as the paternalistic nature of medical professionals during that time.


Ovulatory Lineage

Like Matryoska dolls
we incubate. Mom and I,

Hygiene of Antenatal Life

A child born as the result of a union in which both parents were in a state of beastly intoxication was idiotic.

J. H. Kellogg, Ladies Guide in Health and Disease;
Girlhood, Maidenhood, Wifehood, Motherhood, 1902

The special influence of the mother
begins at conception.

Mothers transmit piety to their children in larger measure
than fathers by a proportion of nearly three to one.

Anger, envy, irritability of temper
should be held in check.

She should cultivate cheerfulness of mind, calmness of temper,
and avoid excitement of all kinds, such as theatrical performances.

Her husband must encourage her to resist such tendencies
through interesting conversation, reading and various harmless diversions.

Mothers are as likely to transmit their enfeebled mental qualities
to their sons as to their daughters.

Stock raisers appreciate that blood has market value
and don’t ruin animals by allowing them to propagate freely.

The haphazard way in which we generate humans
leaves no room for surprise that the race should deteriorate.

Mother Failure Begins In Utero

As many as eight
million eggs mass in fetal
ovaries. Dying.

Adrienne Gruber is the author of two books of poetry, Buoyancy Control (BookThug) and This is the Nightmare (Thistledown Press), and five chapbooks, Mimic (Leaf Press), Everything Water (Cactus Press), Intertidal Zones (Jack Pine Press), The Rope (Jack Pine Press) and Gestational Trail (above/ground press). She won the Antigonish Review’s Great Blue Heron poetry contest in 2015 and SubTerrain’s Lush Triumphant poetry contest in 2017. In 2012 Mimic was awarded the bpNichol Chapbook Award. Her third poetry collection, Q & A, is forthcoming with Book*hug in Spring 2019. Adrienne lives in Vancouver with her family.

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