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Tiny Lungs

Tiny Lungs by Joanna Bennett

by Joanna Bennett. Illustrated by Arthur Morgan. Published by The Whole Gang Press, £8.95

Reviewed by Motherdom Editorial Board member and perinatal psychiatrist Dr Rebecca Moore

Tiny Lungs is a beautiful book of poetry with 28 poems covering a whole range of topics. It’s really easy to read one a day, and I found much to reflect on in these pages.

Many of the poems relate to mothering and parenting, and describe the deeply felt feelings we all experience as we watch our children sleep or grow up. There are also poems about lockdown life and home schooling. Letter to Europe made me pine for holidays, and travel, and salty sandy skin under big blue skies.

The poems are divided into two sections: ‘inhalation’ and ‘exhalation’. Author Joanna Bennett explains that ‘in difficult times the inhalations are shallow, tense, tight, anxious, emphasised. The exhalations bring release, lowering the heart rate, releasing tension, breathing out any toxins and allowing fresh oxygen to flood back in.

The poems here take in the inhalations and exhalations of the last few years in my life, my oxygen, my carbon dioxide. The unexpected things, the different narratives, the dark rooms, the light rooms, the joy of the everyday, the loss of dear family members, the incredible children, the changing political landscapes, the giving birth and raising of children in a pandemic, the yearning for the loved ones we are desperate to see and the deep love, kindness and laughter I have gratitude for.

The inhalations and the exhalations sit side by side, companion ups and downs, intertwining at times. And I realise I am glad for the cycles that bring me to this point.

Breathe in, breathe out. Tiny precious lungs.’

My favourite poem has to be ‘Bones’ which speaks to me so deeply around the power of friendship and not needing words to be seen or heard. I found it intensely touching and sent it to many folk who I cannot see at present and miss deeply. Each poem is sweetly illustrated by Joanna’s son.

I often find poetry books too dense or too much, but this was just perfect for me. It’s small but beautiful, and I also returned to some of the poems many times. It’s written in a really authentic and accessible way. 

Highly recommended, would be perfect for a new mum or dad to have and enjoy.

You can get your copy of Tiny Lungs here.

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