Minor Arcana Press

Good books for weird people.

MILK

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MILK by Natasha Marin front cover.jpg
MILK by Natasha Marin title page.jpg

MILK

10.00

Natasha Marin’s debut e-book MILK is about sustaining children, relationships, and a thriving creative life through the act of breastfeeding. In this multimedia collection, Marin explores nurturing as an act of both power and privilege wherein milk-filled breast is not just a metaphor, but a galaxy of possibility. 

Praise for MILK:

"It is hard to define such nurturance, but you know when you have received it because you are no longer hungry, even if you still want better for the world and yourself. And that is where Marin’s poems leave the reader: sustained and open to more."

- Poets' Quarterly

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Natasha Marin’s debut e-book MILK is about sustaining children, relationships, and a thriving creative life through the act of breastfeeding. In this multimedia collection, Marin explores nurturing as an act of both power and privilege wherein milk-filled breast is not just a metaphor, but a galaxy of possibility. 

Praise for MILK:

"It is hard to define such nurturance, but you know when you have received it because you are no longer hungry, even if you still want better for the world and yourself. And that is where Marin’s poems leave the reader: sustained and open to more."

- Poets' Quarterly

Summon Your Newfound Holiness

You need time, so you lean into it,
like a warm body.

But today, the White Proprietor needs something else
he asks you twice if you understand
and you begin to understand:

 Something sidereal is being siphoned away.

 

Minor Arcana Press presents MILK by Natasha Marin

 MILK, as an eBook and as an interactive website purposely engages with technology. How does this technological emphasis affect the content of MILK?

A friend of mine once likened aesthetics to technology, in that technology is a means to an end. Technology is a practical application of knowledge, right? Well MILK is like that. Also the milk I made, when breastfeeding my son is a technology. In creating and expressing, I often find myself at an impasse where I want to render something with more than the materials at hand. I enjoy expansion. I studied poetry, critical thinking, and language in graduate school and learned most clearly that there is information  in silence and the space between things.

In MILK, I use hyperlinks to additional text, audio, image, and video along with more traditional means to move the reader through a shared experience, which at least for me, was temporary in nature. By using the tools available to me, that I have grown comfortable with as the experience of "reading" has moved more often than not onto a screen rather than a page, I wanted to allow for that access. While breastfeeding, technology was my companion. MILK is an e-book so that new mothers can read it with one hand.

I am now in the space of my life beyond nursing an infant. It is a palpable loss, which I write about in MILK ... but there is more that I am still uncovering. I see my son growing and I don't know what will come next.

 

Breast milk production as a technology is such a powerful idea. MILK has two parts (Fore)milk and (Hind)milk. What new meanings do these terms take on within your collection?

Without over-explaining the book as a concept, I feel comfortable underscoring my avid hope for the structure itself to parallel the experience of the nursing mother (i.e. form fits function) in that, (a) we have to wait for our MILK to come in and, (b) the milk itself is in a state of flux.

Patience is a vital necessity for all mothers and thusly we are "en-mothered" somehow over a 40-week period. It takes some time to metaphorically execute that .zip file—so much information, so tightly compressed—and  does the time inside feel anything like the time outside? Personally, I feel like a womb exists as intra-dimensional space.

Our own selves have fascinated us for eons. What is our truest nature? Science is still trying to catch up to the body's own innovations. A healthy pregnant body is an incredible machine--perfected in its simultaneous processes-- it synchronizes milk production with a measurable accuracy when needed. As the reader traverses (Fore)milk and (Hind)milk, he or she might notice that there is this demarcation between the womb-world and the next one. In MILK, time hovers and floats. Like a placenta, the boundaries I employ are selectively permeable.

 

This makes me think of a line from Sacrum "There is no vigil for the loss of milk— this weaning from one life to the next." MILK has a great deal to say about boundaries and transformations (like "en-mothering"). How has ritual influenced and informed your "mothering" process?

In terms of process, I think the first thing MILK helped me to see and articulate clearly is that mothering is a process— it doesn't happen instantaneously. Personally, I needed to nurse not one, but two children before I felt en-mothered in my body and my mind at the same time. I am still becoming a mother now.

Ritual has played a large part in my creative strategy for about a decade now. As I mention in the introduction to the book, I've hosted Midnight Teas in tandem with my MILK meditation. During a Midnight Tea ritual in Helsinki, I wore blown-glass breasts that were also functional teapots. Although I had originally intended to nurse my guests in a literal fashion, the emptiness of the glass breasts was symbolic of the weaning-time for me. I want to say something about ghosts and trauma, waiting, vacuousness, and painful echoes that don't need to rely on sound to haunt you, but unfortunately my thoughts are non-linear and fraught with emotional vulnerability when I think of weaning. In many ways, MILK is my memorial to what we've collectively lost and what often goes unspoken.

 

What have we have lost?

So much. Loss is a universal experience-- no one on Earth is exempt from loss. As we become a society more reliant on technology to fill the spaces left by in-person relationships. Money, and the pursuit of it compounded by the inevitability of debt controls the lives of most Americans. In MILK, the specificity of loss is centered on the act of nursing—of nourishing and nurturing. Whether or not the reader has physically gone through the process of feeding another person with their own body, they may relate to a vague hunger that begs to be satisfied. We can fill our lives and ourselves by changing how we think about what nourishes us. What time do we allocate to self-care? Are we too rushed to really parent the way we might be able to if every day didn't end in exhaustion?

My intention with MILK was to provide some solace, something with some substance that could metaphorically stand in for the lack and replace it. I wanted my readers to feed on my experiences and somehow be fed by it. A mother never wants to see someone helpless suffering and there are women who have fed abandoned babies, homeless adults, and even animals with their own breasts. The depth of that generosity inspires me and restores my faith in humanity at the same time.

 

Breastfeeding, mothering, and nurturing are issues that affect women on a visceral level, what can men take away from reading MILK?

Gender-specificity is a lie. It is such a truncated way at encountering the human self. I know by saying that, I have already contradicted myself, but I am more than the sum of my words. In this day and age of legislating women's bodies, I feel like it behooves cisgendered male- identified human beings to educate themselves about the rest of the world-- specifically women's lives and experiences.

How many women have weaned a child in the course of recorded human history? Can you name one book besides MILK that attempts to shed light on what it feels like to wean one body from another? But we are quite familiar with men's stories and perspectives already. It is the fabric we cut ourselves from most often.

The burden is on all of us to evolve into a species that goes beyond demographic delineations into a deeper more complete potential. We are. We are together and connected and we all need to feed and be fed. MILK is an offering—a humble one—made by the machine of my own self.

 

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Interviewer: Meredith McDonough

Interviewee: Natasha Marin

July 2014