Rebecca Goss was born and grew up in Suffolk. She has an MA in Creative Writing from Cardiff University and taught Creative Writing at Liverpool John Moores University for several years. Her first collection The Anatomy of Structures was published in 2010 by Flambard Press. Her second collection Her Birth (Carcanet) was shortlisted for the 2013 Forward Prize for Best Collection. She is now a full-time writer and lives in Suffolk.

Rebecca Goss’ first collection The Anatomy of Structures (Flambard Press, 2010) was praised for its ‘strangeness, sexiness and occasionally its yearning’ (Robert Seatter) but it was Her Birth (Carcanet, 2013) which drew the attention of the Next Generation judges. A fearless write and a heartbreaking read, the collection honours the poet’s baby daughter – not even eighteen months old when she died – with intense and crafted language, one precise and painful word at a time.


Download everything on this page along with discussion notes for Rebecca’s Her Birth, published by Carcanet.


Rebecca read in Sheffield, Ely and Norwich on the Next Generation Poets Tour

Read Jade Cuttle’s review of Her Birth



I knew what it meant, but that didn’t stop me:
I came home from clinic, early in her life,

sat on the stairs with my hardback Collins
solid as a baby on my knee, thumbed quickly

through papery leaves, whispering l, m, n, o, p,
to seek the word they said once

when discussing the flawed mechanics
of her heart. There, on a gauzy page,

its definition printed across shadows
of my fingers, I read ‘serving to palliate’,

(from Latin pallium, a cloak) and turned back
to find ‘palliate’ vb 1. to lessen the severity

of (pain, disease etc.) without curing
and I re-read without curing until curing

didn’t look like curing anymore,
it looked like curling and I clasped my hands

around my knees, pulled that book hard
against my gut. As a student I loved its reams

of indisputable fact, its ability to reveal
and make clear. Now I bury its bulk

on the shelves, swathe myself in hope.


I’ve been told of women in their eighties
who dial on birthdays, their story drawn

from the receiver in small damp breaths:
‘He would have been sixty’

and a voice wraps them in a blanket of vowels.
Somehow, a child has slipped from them.

They were unable to stop it, like sand collapsing
back down the hole, dug on that dry part of beach.

'Last Poem'

So extraordinary was your sister’s
short life, it’s hard for me to see

a future for you. I know it’s there,
your horizon of adulthood,

reachable across a stretch
of ordinary days, yet I can’t believe

my fortune – to have a healthy child
with all that waits: the bike, school,

mild and curable diseases.
So we potter through the weeks

and you relax your simian cling,
take exploratory steps, language

budding at your lips. I log the daily
change, another day lived

with every kiss goodnight; wake
relieved by your murmurs at dawn.

Come and hold my hand, little one,
stand beside me in your small shoes,

let’s head for your undiscovered life,
your mother’s ready now, let’s run.

Buy Her Birth online now from the PBS for only £9 including P&P!


Other books by Rebecca Goss

 The Anatomy of Structures (Flambard Press, 2010)

If you liked Rebecca Goss, try

Susan Wicks
Jacob Polley
Karen McCarthy Woolf