Tables of Silver and Gold: Writing Baby Loss and Stillbirth

  • The Devon & Exeter Institution
  • July 8
  • 17:00 - 19:00
Event Website

In-person seminar for parents and others on baby loss and grief, with talks from two authors who have written about their own experiences.
Many parents who lose a baby, whether through perinatal loss, stillbirth, miscarriage or medical abortion, never talk about it. We allow silence to surround their grief. And yet, since the dawn of recorded culture, lost babies have been remembered through the written word. In the 4000-year-old Sumerian ‘Epic of Gilgamesh’, the hero asks one who has visited the Underworld, ‘Did you see my little stillborn ones who did not know themselves?’ He is told, ‘They enjoy syrup and ghee at tables of silver and gold’. It is a picture of gladness that consoles the grieving parent.
This in-person seminar at the Devon and Exeter Institution introduces writers, who are also parents, to talk about writing or translating their experiences of baby loss and grieving: the Russian novelist Anna Starobinets, author of the searing memoir Look At Him (2018), Anna’s English translator, the poet Katherine E. Young, and Devon author William Henry Searle, whose memoir Elowen is due out in 2023 from Little Toller Press. Kate Stanton, a trainer for SANDS, the stillbirth and neonatal death charity (and a volunteer Befriender for the Exeter branch of SANDS), will also be present. Our aim is to allow speakers and audience to share their experiences of baby loss in a respectful, sensitive, and mutually supportive way in the peaceful surroundings of the Devon and Exeter Institution, 7 Cathedral Close, Exeter EX1 1EZ, where an exhibition on maternal care in Devon will also be on display.
All welcome, free admission. Advance booking via this site is recommended.
Supported by the Arts and Humanities Research Council via an AHRC Networking Grant to Professor Muireann Maguire (Department of Modern Languages and Cultures) at the University of Exeter.