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Nobody Told Me: Poetry and Parenthood
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Nobody Told Me: Poetry and Parenthood

4.50  ·  Rating details ·  556 ratings  ·  75 reviews
A memoir of parenthood by poet Hollie McNish.

There were many things that Hollie McNish didn't know before she was pregnant. How her family and friends would react; that Mr Whippy would be off the menu; how quickly ice can melt on a stomach. These were on top of the many other things she didn't know about babies: how to stand while holding one; how to do a poetry gig with y
Paperback, 464 pages
Published February 4th 2016 by Blackfriars
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Jan 13, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I was really nervous going into to read this.
Nobody Told Me: Poetry & Parenthood, is a chronicle of three years and nine months of poet Hollie McNish life.
From finding out she was pregnant in Kings Cross Station on the way to Glastonbury.
“Three hours staring at three test”
To her daughter first day of pre-school, and everything in between.

I’m not a mum, nor do I have the drive to be. But this book spoke to me in so many ways.
I have learnt so much while being thoroughly and enjoyably enterta
Jun 05, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: best
It's impossible to convey how much I love this book! Every new parent should read this book. Hollie is able to put into words every emotion I have felt since my daughter was born 15 months ago but which I am not eloquent enough to express myself.

I wonder if my brain chemistry has fundamentally changed since becoming a mum because I would never have dreamed of reading a book combining memoir and poetry before she was born but this was now the perfect book for me and I can't remember enjoying a b
Feb 12, 2016 rated it it was amazing
It's like all my own thoughts were articulated perfectly.
Polly Sands
May 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: have
What a great book. Not just poetry but a bit of a memoir of those years where your life changes forever. As a Mum, midwife, festival goer, breastfeeder (in years gone by), woman, sadly not poet, this is an essential book. I am now recommending it above all accessible baby books, normally I don't recommend them at all so this is high praise. One mate who I told about it who is 5 months pregnant got the audiobook which sounds like it would be even better, as anyone who seen Hollies videos will und ...more
Barbora Kraml
Jul 26, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
I have to say I have a soft spot for McNish, I saw her performing in Edinburgh a couple of years ago, and she was so amazing! I love how honest she is - open about all her emotions, and struggles. The poems are fun, optimistic, they often rhyme (I especially love her for this), but most importantly they have a message. McNish has a lot to say, and the way she says it - she just makes you listen.
Sep 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2018-reads
I don't often read books of poetry but this one really got it right.
Aug 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book was so good I cried multiple times whilst reading it. Hollie McNish just captures emption so purely and so simply it’s seemingly effortless
Aug 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I laughed, I cried, I pondered a lot. Loved it.
Jun 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Thanks Hollie for reminding me how hard it is looking after a baby and young child. You write so eloquently and from the heart, it really brought back to me the ups and downs of parenthood. As a mother whose children are all now adults I had forgotten such a lot of the difficulties; now having been reminded I feel better prepared to help and support my daughter as she becomes a parent. I would recommend this book to anyone as it is a lovely read with raw emotion and some beautiful poems. However ...more
Sep 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Loved this so, so much. The mix of poetry and memoir was wonderful and I will be tracking down more of Hollie’s poetry ASAP.
Amy Alice
I loved this so much! Not only empathy wise but politics wise. Just so poignant and relevant and beautiful. Getting my own copy to come back to over the years!
Apr 20, 2017 rated it liked it
Was handed this book for work, ostensibly because I like poetry. I was excited till I read the opening blurb - this was about a new mum and her journey. Crikey! How wrong an audience I was for this book.

McNish mixes memoir with poems charting the moment she found out she was expecting, through to her child being three years old. That's a lot to pack into a single novel. Despite its length, this book is a quick and easy read.

Most poems start with an intro - some long, others short - recounting
Valerie Pate
May 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I am a huge Hollie McNish fan. From the first time I saw her perform live, which was nearly two years ago now, I felt a strong connection to her words and her beliefs; just to her - as a poet, as a person.
I have read this book slowly; savouring every morsel. Soaking it in. I know that it will be a book that I gift to many people; new mothers, parents of toddlers, women I love.
I hear Hollie's voice as I read her words. She is that voice of realism that lets us know that we are not alone. Tha
Aug 29, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2016
Everybody should read this, from teenage boys to grandmas. Nobody Told Me is a testament to the experience of motherhood, from the small and seemingly-mundane details that surprised Hollie to the pointed articulation of how motherhood and existence in a world not designed for you is fundamentally political. Her introspection, as well as her observations about her family and the people she interacted with, cut away the veneer of lovey-dovey-ness that surrounds motherhood in particular, and become ...more
Susan Austin
Sep 13, 2017 rated it really liked it
Loved the honesty of this book. I was impressed at how dedicated she must have been to write through the harrowing stages of pregnancy and early parenting (when sleep deprivation makes it so hard) and it's so great to have this kind of account and in-the-moment reflection on some of the issues that arise, many of which I could totally relate to. It left me regretting not doing more writing in the early years of having my kids, but oh well my circumstances are different and we do what we can. Som ...more
Kristi Sawyer
Jul 12, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: factual
I'm glad I didn't read this book while pregnant because the first 100 pages would have terrified me! Hollie McNish gives a very honest account of pregnancy and early motherhood, which, when sprinkled with fantastic poems, really tugs on your heartstrings. For prospective or current mothers, I am sure it is utter perfection, but as a non-broody 23-year-old right now, perhaps I am not the best target audience. Nevertheless, I can see how her honesty is inspirational and offers great comfort to wom ...more
Rachel McKeown
Nov 02, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I am a little bit in love with Hollie McNish and her words.
She has such an ability to sum things up and express ideas, emotions and incidents so succinctly that it leaves me speechless for a few minutes sometimes. Because I'm left thinking - 'Yes! That's exactly what I think/thought/feel/felt/was going to say'
This book is perfect for anyone embarking on pregnancy or motherhood or reflecting back on the first few years particularly.
Apr 06, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-2016
Everyone should read this. Parents, people who want to be parents, and people who don't want to be parents. Those who are and do will feel some solidarity and understanding, those who don't will have their ignorance smashed to smithereens. After reading this book you'll never think 'why would you bring a child on a train at peak hour?' ever again. Hollie's voice is mesmerising, raw, vulnerable, honest, and full of joy. I applaud her and her bravery.
Katy Chessum-Rice
Having heard Hollie perform live as I started to read the book, I could hear her voice in the poems - which are fantastic! Gives a wonderfully fresh and unflinching perspective on pregnancy and motherhood, you go through the highs and lows with her. I recommend that you look up her performances of her poetry on You Tube. Powerful stuff.
Jane Burnett
Mar 05, 2016 rated it it was amazing
It is wonderful that such a brilliant mum, such a decent human being with insight and honesty has such a talent with words. Poems that stay with you long after the book is finished. A book to revisit time and time again.
Mugren Ohaly
Mar 20, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2016
The diary entries were interesting and I didn't like any of the poems.
Jul 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing
God, I loved this. I feel like I'll be shoving it in the hands of every mom with young kids.
I had a hunch this book would be a cracker and so it was. Everybody and her dog seems, it sometimes feels, has written a book about what becoming and being a mother (or parent) is really like, and someone being a professional writer doesn't always, or even often, shape the language into something I find less obnoxious and worrying for the future. But the blend here of prose and poetry shows what prose can do, what poetry can do (and different sorts of poetry, some that need to be performed some ...more
Sep 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
«Nadie me dijo que no podías usar papel higiénico
Nadie me dijo que podías sangrar
Nadie me dijo que tal vez necesitarías un lugar secreto
desde el que poder gritar.»

Reseña completa en mi blog. Link en bio 💕
Hay libros sobre los cuales es difícil hablar sin encadenar su historia con la nuestra. Libros escritos desde dentro de las entrañas que cuando salen fuera despliegan sus tentáculos y nos atrapan entre sus líneas, como si estuviesen hablando de nosotras mismas, como si nos estuviesen leyendo el
Tim Regan
Nov 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book.

It is a book of real opposites: it made me laugh and cry, it filled me with joy and with anger, it is deeply personal and also political. Hollie takes us through from discovering that she's pregnant on route to a poetry performance at Glastonbury festival right through to when her daughter is three years old.

I love the form too, it is written as diary entries which somehow develop into poems. McNish warns us that these poems are raw and unworked and they are, some of them are
Holly Jackson
Jan 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
A beautiful, funny, honest, inspiring, moving and heartfelt poetry collection from my favourite modern poet! As a soon-to-be parent I think I will come back to many of these poems over and over; there's so much in this book that I can relate to/agree with already and much I'm sure I will soon. Though since I am becoming a parent through adoption, I found the early chapters, particularly the ones dealing with pregnancy, birth and breastfeeding a little self flagellating, so if you've also skipped ...more
Belinda Carvalho
Really enjoyed Holly McNish's beautiful, sensitive, honest reflections on parenthood. She writes with real soul, found myself so moved by a few sections, she really examines how our society treats mothers and fathers, boys and girls, race and other issue BUT I found it tediously long (465 pages, all 3 years of her daughter's youth) and that additional length really affected my enjoyment of the brilliant parts. I think this could have been carefully edited into a short & snappy book on the fi ...more
Elizabeth Smith
Jul 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book is a diary of pregnancy and the first three years of Hollie's daughter's life, interspersed with poems on the topic of parenthood inspired at this time. I love the honestly with which Hollie writes and she puts down so many of the thoughts I had at this time, but articulates them so much better than I could. As well as dealing with the day to day challenges of parenting, Hollie also examines bigger issues such as gender and why we force gender roles on children at such a young age. I l ...more
This is the loveliest piece on motherhood I've ever read. I expect this to be the loveliest piece on motherhood I ever WILL read, at that. Bar, set. I listened to this over the course of two days in my car, and I have never laughed or cried so much all alone, not even when I had an infant I couldn't fucking breastfeed very well, so basically, I CRIED A LOT LISTENING TO THIS OKAY. In a good way. In a cleansing way, I mean damn.

My heart basically got shredded and sewn back together with this subli
Jun 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A beautifully moving account of parenthood in poetry and prose. It manages to perfectly capture the conflicting emotions of having a child, the love and awe as well as the struggles with lack of sleep, the loss of autonomy, and the new pressures it puts on your other relationships. I laughed and I cried, and it has made me excited for each new stage of my daughters life. Definitely one for all new and expecting parents.
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“So I lay her to sleep
and wipe off the milk
and step into the next room
for some innocent filth
in the middle of which
her scream jolts me up
And I transform breast once more
between lover
and love.”
More quotes…