Literary Mothers: An Interview with Carolyne Van Der Meer and Shira Nayman

Shira Nayman: Sometimes when we write, concepts we always took for granted are reconsidered. In that vein, do you think we have literary mothers—in other words, mothers we choose for ourselves vs. our real mothers? How do they influence us? How are they different and how are they the same?

Carolyne Van Der Meer: This is an interesting question for me because one of my literary mothers was my real mother—so a literary mother I chose. In fact, writing about my mom’s experience as a warchild in the Nazi-occupied Netherlands in my first book is central to a greater understanding of mothering and motherhood and the role these play in writing. In some ways, I feel like my mother—in addition to all the things she gave me—gifted me with my first book. She agreed to talk to me about the most painful and difficult part of her life in order to push me down the writing path. I think my mother knew what she was doing. I suppose I can call her a true literary mother! But we also choose mothers as we read and write. The ones we relate to and recognize when we read novels and poems; the ones we resurrect, pay tribute to, and create when we write. And I would even say this intersects with our own motherhood if we have children of our own: we end up writing about the beauty, the sensuality, the cost of motherhood—and about our children and the influence they have on us. It comes full circle—for me anyways.

Read full interview at Puritan Magazine


Posted on

September 10, 2021

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