Imagined Sons with Carrie Etter at the Swindon Festival of Poetry

4 Oct
Carrie Etter

Carrie Etter

Quite an emotional day yesterday, beginning with Robert Peake and then Carrie Etter. Not to mention the film There is Nothing in the Garden with its toy babies in toilets on day one of the Swindon Festival of Poetry.

Carrie read from her third collection, Imagined Sons. It’s a surreal package of work about ongoing life trauma / serious stuff to work through about giving her son up for adoption at the age of seventeen.

Poetry might be wonderfully cathartic to write but it’s also an invitation to talk openly about traumatic subjects. I had no compunction in talking afterwards to both Carrie and Robert about both their losses knowing that it was almost certainly okay. There isn’t the embarrassment of the unknown, of how they would like me to act, the worry of causing emotional upset – I already had a heads up on where their heads are at.

Though where Robert’s poetry shared with you the loss, Carrie’s was more of an observation, dealt with at arms length, probably because of its surreal wrapping.

It took me a while to tune in, but once I had it was fascinating insight into how such major events are dealt with. At each stage of her son’s life she imagines him as different people – a new assistant at her local bakers, a very young pilot as she takes a flight. Mother’s Day becomes the anniversary of loss; the insidiousness of this has taken two thirds of her life: ‘the melancholy comes first before the memory’; the hopeful nature of the brain that it all might go away before reality kicks in: ‘The wish bone snapped and I clung to the smaller piece.’

Someone said to me recently that scars make the best poetry, not wounds, but Carrie and Robert say otherwise; or are at least the exceptions that prove the rule.

Written by Louisa Davison

One Response to “Imagined Sons with Carrie Etter at the Swindon Festival of Poetry”


  1. Swindon Festival of Poetry - Robert Peake - 7th Oct 2014

    […] fellow expat Carrie Etter, bringing themes of parenthood and loss to the fore between us, which Louisa again picked up on in her musings. Maurice Riordan and Kathryn Maris then rounded out the afternoon, lending their unique and […]

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