My Mum’s Growing Down by Laura Dockrill (@LauraDockrill), illustrated by David Tazzyman (@gumdraw) took me by surprise. Whilst I knew it was going to be witty and sharp and likely to make me gasp as points (everything I’ve previously read or listened to by Laura has had this effect on me) the fierce honesty and rare boldness of this collection of poems about the relationship between a child and his mum still pulled the rug from under my feet.
These poems, about a young carer looking after their single parent, explore themes such as navigating complex relationships, having to grow up before one’s time, coping with the illness of someone you love and the uncertainty all this creates because its not part of what society deems normal. Distilled and sharpened to dazzling edges in the way that is the speciality of poetry, shedding all cushioning and soft focus so that every single and precise syllable counts, My Mum’s Growing Down gets straight to the heart and soul of these difficult yet real issues.
Absolutely bursting with love and respect, these poems face full on what it can be like when your parent isn’t like other parents. Whether it is because she loves to play online games (‘My mum is a gamer’), dresses outrageously (‘My Mum does not dress like a Mum and that is good’), doesn’t play by the rules at parents evening (‘My Mum attends parents evening’) or parties so hard that you find her throwing up in the toilet (‘I want a party!), these poems recognise and voice often marginalised childhood experiences and in doing so will give some readers rare reassurance and hope, and will help others empathise with classmates whose lives are more complicated than their own.
Whilst the themes are eye-opening and at times challenging, the poetry is enormous fun, crackling with wordplay and rhythm and humming with high tension energy. Playfully designed so pages peal with visual zing, the poems demand to be said out loud with abandon and courage. David Tazzyman’s anarchic, doodly, high octane illustrations are the perfect effervescent match for Laura’s sincere and candid poems.
Gorgeously produced with a sizzling cover and hot pink paper edges, this is a spirited and entertaining poetry collection to turn prejudice – both about poetry and experiences – on its head.
Today’s poem in our Poetree Calendar is Row by Laura Dockrill, illustrated by David Tazzyman.
Reproduced with permission.