30 Kiwis have bravely shared their stories about a topic that remains taboo: not being a mother. In ‘OTHERHOOD, an essay collection to be published by Massey University Press, the writers explore a diverse range of difficult, complicated, and sometimes joyful experiences.
Edited by Alie Benge, Lil O’Brien and me, ‘OTHERHOOD will be stocked in bookstores around Aotearoa from 2024 - and the Boosted crowdfunding campaign launching today will ensure the contributors get paid.
“Thirty incredible stories written by some of Aotearoa’s most exciting writers have been selected to appear in the book - and we need help to pay them,” says Lil.
“Contributors include MP Golriz Ghahraman, Jackie Clarke from The Aunties, and Paula Morris, who is a legendary figure in the Aoteraoa literary scene. But we’re also stoked to publish some new and upcoming writers, some of whom have never been published before.
“We aim to raise $15K to pay the 30 writers $500 each for their mahi – and for their bravery in sharing their stories about a common experience that still doesn’t get talked about.”
Not being a mother can feel profoundly ‘othering’. Those of us without children are familiar with the insensitive comments. Even the question ‘Do you have kids?’ can be hard to answer – what do you say if you’ve been bereaved, or if you’re having a miscarriage? Often, it’s easier to be silent. ‘OTHERHOOD gives voice to those of us who aren’t mothers.
Alie says care has been taken to ensure that the essays touch on joy as well as sorrow.
“The hilarious, heart-breaking and thought-provoking essays cover topics including religion, blended families, bereavement, queerness, foster care, disability, infertility, domestic violence, mental health, and freedom from social expectations,” she says.
“And some of the essays are about the joys of being a big DINK – Double Income, No Kids!”
People who contribute to the Boosted campaign can have their name included in the book, will receive a discount code once the book is published, and will be invited to the launch parties.
Donations can be made on the Boosted platform.
2023 Burns fellow Kathryn van Beek has an MA from Victoria University Wellington - Te Herenga Waka’s International Institute of Modern Letters. She is a winner of the Mindfood Short Story Competition and the Headland Prize. Her collection of short stories, Pet, is available as a podcast, and her work has also appeared in Overland, takahē, Newsroom, and the Sunday Star-Times. She lives in UNESCO City of Literature Ōtepoti Dunedin with her two rescue cats.