Mothers Who Kill Their Children: Understanding the Acts of Moms from Susan Smith to the "Prom Mom"

Mothers Who Kill Their Children: Understanding the Acts of Moms from Susan Smith to the "Prom Mom"

Mothers Who Kill Their Children: Understanding the Acts of Moms from Susan Smith to the "Prom Mom"

Mothers Who Kill Their Children: Understanding the Acts of Moms from Susan Smith to the "Prom Mom"

Synopsis

Winner of the Colorado Book Award;
Winner of the Willa Literary Award

As heard on Public Radio International's "The Writer's Almanac!"

Full of music and evocative word play, Veronica Patterson's Swan, What Shores? offers alluring poems varied in form and inventive in approach. In language that is both precise and lyrical, Patterson's work, like much of the best poetry, plumbs the human condition with depth, wit, and, above all, compassion.

The poems offer fine surprises, from the lyrical litany of "The Riddle of My Want" ("the stride of your eyes / a summering of skin") to the unusual elegy "Three Photographs Not of My Father" to the mysteries embodied in "Where Are My Swans?": "All movement in their dreams is theirs / that glide-without-haste, for what core of the universe / has to hurry?"

Swan, What Shores? marks the blossoming of a major poetic talent.

Excerpt

There is every reason to believe that infanticide is as old as human society itself, and that no culture has been immune. Throughout history, the crime of infanticide has reflected specific cultural norms and imperatives. For instance, infanticide was legal throughout the ancient civilizations of Mesopotamia, Greece, and Rome, and was justified on grounds ranging from population control to eugenics to illegitimacy. Archeological evidence suggests that infant sacrifice was commonplace among early peoples, including the Vikings, Irish Celts, Gauls, and Phoenicians.

Historians of infanticide cite a host of factors associated with the incidence of this crime: poverty, overpopulation, laws governing inheritance, customs relating to nonmarital children, religious and/or superstitious beliefs regarding disability, eugenics, and maternal madness. This broad range of explanations for the act of a mother killing her child suggests that infanticide takes quite different forms in different cultures. Indeed, there is no intuitively obvious link between the exposure . . .

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