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Mother Said

3.91  ·  Rating details ·  210 Ratings  ·  17 Reviews
For anyone who has ever had a mother - and that includes most of us - or is a mother (one way or another), Hal Sirowitz's poetry speaks the truth. About families, about relationships. Written in mother vernacular, these poems have the ring of adult nursery rhymes, with a tinge of horror and a ton of humor. Think Philip Larkin inspired by Norman Bates, or the Brothers Grimm ...more
Hardcover, 128 pages
Published April 16th 1996 by Crown (first published 1996)
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May 10, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: pure-poetry
"A boy's best friend is his mother."
Norman Bates

We've all heard them.

"Always wear clean underwear in case you're in an accident."

And who could forget,

"You'll poke your eye out."

Hal Sirowitz heard them too, and turned them into poetry.


Keep your hand inside the railing,
Mother said, when you ride the escalator.
I read once in some out-of-town newspaper
about this boy who got his index finger
chopped off doing what you are doing.
His parents rushed him to the hospital,
but in all their excit
Bill  Kerwin
May 21, 2012 rated it it was ok

This small book of verse primarily consists of monologues (roughly sonnet-sized) spoken by a Jewish mother--presumably a mother who sounds a lot like Sirowitz's. (A photograph of the poet as baby being held by his adoring mother is the frontispiece of this collection).

There are a few Jewish father monologues too as well as more than a few short poems about the poet's failed sexual relationships interspersed with the Mother poems, which may seem a little creepy or sadly resonant, depending on yo
Momina N. M.
Feb 24, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

Min døde gullfisk
"Jeg ønsket meg en alligator som kjæledyr.
Men foreldrene mine ga meg en gullfisk.
Da den døde, skylte min mor den ned i toalettet.
Hun sa at en katt kom til å grave den opp
og spise den hvis vi begravde den i bakgården.
Jeg var sint på min far fordi han gikk
på do ti minutter etter begravelsen.
Han hadde ingen respekt for den døde."
May 03, 2016 rated it it was amazing
One of the great features of poetry collections is that you usually can finish them in one sitting. I love-love-loooved this! So sweet and funny! It's the first time poetry has really made me laugh ouy LOUD.
Sep 10, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: poetry
There were a couple of poems in this book that gave a the impression of a sort of sense of entitlement when it comes to women - Souvenirs and Wasting Time, for instance. I don't believe "friendzone" was part of the lexicon when this book came out, but if it had been I wouldn't have been surprised to see it pop up somewhere in this book.

Aside from that - not bad. Focused on the relationship between a Jewish man and his parents (specifically his mother), with some humorous bits.
May 12, 2011 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Anyone with a sense of humour
I first read this book in a translation to Norwegian borrowed from a Norwegian friend. The translator is the Norwegian author Erlend Loe who has a lot in common with Sirowitz regarding style even though Loe writes novels.

At first, you laugh. Then you laugh harder. But gradually, the smile and laughter it funny, or is it tragic? It is both, really (just like many of Loe's own books).

Basically the book is a series of poems on conversations between the poet and his mother - or rather,
Mar 19, 2012 rated it liked it
Really, really funny. These are concise, and vivid, and often hilarious. I wanted to give this 4 stars, but unfortunately, as performance poets often do, these poems are more like chopped-up prose; they're conversational narratives, like small stories, so there's not a lot of "poetry" going on. These read more like small stand-up routines. That said, this is worth reading, and I'll keep an eye out for more of his work.
Jan 29, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is another humorous collection of straight-forward poetry by Sirowitz. It's dark humor,
often the most honest and believable kind, considering the world in which we live. Sirowitz's poetry is refresingly fun and interesting to read, and reminds us that there are as many, maybe more varieties of poetry as there are of prose.
Aug 05, 2007 rated it liked it
Piss-yourself-funny the first time, especially if you're under the influence. Multi-reads are not so funny, especially when sober.

Mar 29, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: american, poetry
It was like hearing my mom. Laughed a lot.
Oda Dalen
Denne var gøy!
Nov 10, 2010 rated it liked it
Overall, a solid collection of poems. Most of them are reflections on growing up. I'd recommend it as a read for someone on long commutes to a job they hate.
Anne Brosnan
Sep 05, 2016 rated it liked it
This poor guy.
Feb 07, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: poetry
He's funny, but eventually tiresome. It's the same joke (um, I mean, the same poem) over and over again.
Dec 29, 2015 rated it liked it
Old-fashioned, self-hating Jewish humor packaged as not-terrible poems. The poems aren't bad! The jokes are bad.
Hanne Westrum Hvammen
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Jul 19, 2016
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Sep 21, 2007
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Sep 02, 2012
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Jan 27, 2011
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Hal Sirowitz has been awarded a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship is a 2003-2004 New York Foundation for the Arts Fellow. In 2001, Sirowitz was named Poet Laureate of Queens, New York. His poems have been widely anthologized in collections such as Garrison Keillor’s Good Poems and in Poetry in Motion from Coast to Coast. He has performed on MTV’s Spoken Word Unplugged, PBS’s Poetry Heaven ...more
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