Mother Tongue

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Mother Tongue

New Sonnets Collection Honoring Language & Where It Comes From

Mother Tongue is a collection of sonnets that honors language and where it comes from.

A mother tongue is a person’s first language. The language we speak first results from a confluence of time, place, and family. These poems continue my exploration of the question of what it means to be here, to be with each other, to understand ourselves as part of a family and a community rooted in history and living right here and now.

The words mother and matter share the same Latin root, mater, and mean origin or source, a substance from which something is made. Materia also refers to the hard inner word of a tree. Ultimately, these definitions take us back to Mother Earth; both the natural world and the linguistic one are mother gifts. 

These poems are an expression of my gratitude to my mother.

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Praise for Mother Tongue

For those of you who have followed Sandy Lee Carlson’s poetry, you will recognize her style in Mother Tongue, distinguished by her dexterity with language that evokes a deep and resonating emotional connection to place, to nature, to enduring relationships. This collection is distinguished by her devotion to the sonnet form. It is a perfect vehicle for Carlson to celebrate the power of familial love, the seasons, the potency of myth, the enduring tug of longing to be a part of the natural world and its inherent, almost sacred healing powers. Her rhymed couplets bring the message home. Of note are the poet’s seamless inclusions of Greek and Norse mythological figures, be it the bereft Persephone or the trickster Loki. They enhance the poems, inviting us to tie ourselves to the ancient world as we experience our own. In this way, Carlson explores the profound and the everyday in equal measure and with great success; you will want to turn to Mother Tongue again and again. (Deborah Nash Ott, writer and teacher)