Redefining the Classroom

Creative writing professor publishes poetry collection

Posted: April 4th, 2012

SAULT STE. MARIE, Mich. – – Lake Superior State University creative writing professor Julie Barbour channels her experiences as a young mother into her first book of poetry, to be published June 29 by Finishing Line Press.

Come To Me and Drink explores Barbour's foray into motherhood upon the birth of her daughter.

(Download a print version of the cover art)

"After she was born, I was looking for poems about childbirth and motherhood, and had a hard time finding works that spoke to me about the reality of the experience," says Barbour. "There were plenty of books about motherhood that were humorous and witty, but I wanted poems that told it to me straight. I would find a few here and there, but not an entire book, so I decided to write that book myself."

Her insights take the form of a chapbook: a small, pocket-sized volume that's intended to be read (and reread) quickly to let Barbour's 18 lyric poems form and evolve in the reader's mind, one "verse-byte" at a time.

"I wanted to pull these poems together and give them focus," says Barbour. "It's a small book, so you can really focus on a subject and keep the reader engaged."

The poems approach the world of being a mother, from pregnancy to birth, from nursing a child to leaving a child for the first time. The poems also explore the anxiety of being a mother.

"The book is comprised of real experiences that every mother goes through when raising a child for the first time," says Barbour. "Many women don't talk about the difficulty of being a mother."

Barbour adds that motherhood's a tough job, and she wanted to explore the complexities of this experience through poetry.

"In poetry, a writer can focus on moments and share specific experiences," she says.

The poems in this chapbook — actually part of a longer series of other poems about the complexities of being part of a family — took about seven years to come together.

Julie Barbour, courtesy Jude McConkey
(Download a print version)

Preorders for Come To Me and Drink are now being taken through Finishing Line Press by clicking here. Each book is $12, plus $1.99 shipping and handling. Follow the "preorder forthcoming titles" link. Preorders will be shipped after June 29.

Copies can also be ordered through the Barbour's author page found by clicking here, where there are also book excerpts and an author blog.

Click here to learn more about creative writing and other programs offered by the department of English at Lake Superior State University.


Early praise for Julie Barbour's Come To Me and Drink

"Julie Brooks Barbour is a poet exposed, calling on the essentials: apples, air, earth, a tiny tugging mouth. She makes a home in the opposite ends of a blooming life and writes forward. Hers is the voice of the new mother calling herself back to swollen breasts and healed stitches. Hers -- the levitating voice of the quintessential poet capturing life moments that have been 'left to themselves.' Ms. Barbour has left us humans, in need of her noticing, the greatest of portraits: the human soul seduced by what is puzzling, fleeting, and always true." — Nikky Finney, author of Head Off & Split, winner of the 2011 National Book Award for poetry

"When I first read Julie Brooks Barbour's Come to Me and Drink, I drew back in wonder at how a woman could bring to childbirth and motherhood--its blood, its wounds, its physical transformation-- such lyric beauty. Childbirth and its aftermath are not always, or so we have been taught, the subject of poetry. And our physical response to it not always a subject that many women of my generation wished to acknowledge. I could never have written such poems in those first weeks of motherhood; I did not have the vocabulary and I did not have the courage. Ms. Barbour has given us back our own moments as new mothers, our bodily heritage as women, and our honesty as only a poet can render it. " — Kathryn Stripling Byer, NC Poet Laureate Emerita, author of Coming to Rest and Wildwood Flower

"Come To Me and Drink by Julie Brooks Barbour is a meditation on the journey a woman takes from complete immersion in early motherhood to reentering the world outside the home once the offspring has grown. With these deeply moving poems, Ms. Barbour makes us vividly experience complex changes in relationships, as well as in the internal and external world of the speaker, both in extraordinary situations and in “the challenge of every day.” — Katerina Stoykova-Klemer, author of The Most


CONTACTS: John Shibley, e-mail, 906-635-2314; Tom Pink, e-mail, 635-2315.