THE LAST PAIR OF EARS is a collection of poems and short stories about seeing and hearing what we aren't supposed to notice; 'lost stories' that have been overlooked, suppressed, or forgotten. Family secrets: all families have at least one. Shameful ones, dark ones, sad ones. 'Premature' babies born before they should have been; babies who looked like family friends, rather than their fathers; women who did anything to keep food on the table, when men couldn't or wouldn't work. Most of these secrets are harboured by women; they respect and fear them enough not to misplace or forget the secrets. They love the rest of us enough not to tell the secrets publicly. I know what happens to families when the secret-keeping mothers and grandmothers die or, dementing, forget and are themselves lost. Families unravel, as if the secret no one knew or talked about was the thing that kept the family together. I hear secret things, things no one else has ever heard, and try to keep the secrets safe, because they might be all that my patients have left of who they were or were not allowed to be.
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"Pithy and earthy and sad, and just slightly dippy and funny too" - Kate Clanchy
"A thoughtful, honed and at times pointed collection of poems and short prose" -
"Mary's compassionate imagination, finely attuned ear, and poetic flair ensure that the different characters come to life on the page, despite - indeed because of - their flawed memory and eroding identity" - Kapka Kassabova
"A striking collection that explores various kinds of vulnerability and marries them to an unflinching directness of expression. These poems are humourous and tender, angry and accepting. They offer precise excavations of the fears and desires of the very young and the very old, noting the sometimes comic willfulness of both generations. Loss is the thread that weaves through the collection, but loss listened to by a very sharp pair of ears that sift the speakers to the bone so as to sustain and reveal their common humanity" - David Kinloch
Mary F McDonough is a writer, therapist, maker, and communication consultant. She has 22 years experience working with people in large organisations, hospitals, schools, and universities, with a particular interest in end of life care. Mary is currently working on a PhD in Creative Writing, and lives in Glasgow with one husband, 2 boys, 33 stick insects, and a gecko.
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