(Softskull Press, 2005, 284 pp, RRP £9.99)
Mamaphonic: Balancing Motherhood and Other Creative Acts is collection of articles written, edited and compiled by mothers in the snatched minutes between bathtimes, demands for Cheerios and trips to the park. As a premise, Mamaphonic is a much needed and long awaited book, an affirmative voice which does not accept ‘the lie that having children kills creativity. In fact, people who are raising kids have to be more creative to find enough time to do their work.’ In practice, however, it lapses too often into badly-written hyperbole and a snobbish lauding of the ‘Artistic Identity.’ The clash of this identity with the demands of motherhood often finds the women of this collection holed up in corners scribbling down a few words. The reports of frustrated attempts to find a room, a table or even a corner of one’s own give the overwhelming impression that these women are enjoying neither their children, nor their own creativity. The best articles, Ayun Halliday’s outstanding reminiscence on how she started her ‘zine East Village Inky or Lisa Peet’s account of her son’s straight-talking encouragement in ‘The Rudest Muse,’ while not ignoring the frustrations of motherhood, focus on what happens when mothers involve their children in the creative process rather than hiding it (and themselves) from them.
Reviewed by Beth Tilston.