This image shows the cover of Juneau poet Emily Wall’s new book “Breaking Into Air.” The book published by Red Hen Press details a wide array of different birth stories. (Courtesy Photo)

This image shows the cover of Juneau poet Emily Wall’s new book “Breaking Into Air.” The book published by Red Hen Press details a wide array of different birth stories. (Courtesy Photo)

A book is born: Local author releases poetry book portraying the many faces of childbirth

It details “the incredible power of women, and their partners.”

Birth is a fundamental part of everyone’s human experience, so it’s no wonder that many people have vastly different experiences giving birth.

For Juneau author Emily Wall, bringing those stories to life, the good and the bad, was an art that was going under the radar — and she wanted to change that.

In her latest book of poetry, “Breaking Into Air: Birth Poems,” Wall compiles more than a dozen varying stories of childbirth mixed with her own experience as a mother to bring the poetry to life. The book, which also includes a poem co-written in the Tlingit language courtesy of X’unei Lance Twitchell, reflects on both the joys of childbirth and the pain of loss that can come with it.

This photo shows Emily Wall, who recently authored a book of poetry focused on various birth stories. (Courtesy Photo)

This photo shows Emily Wall, who recently authored a book of poetry focused on various birth stories. (Courtesy Photo)

“It’s a story about the incredible power of women, and their partners,” Wall said. “I hope it spreads the message that women are doing this incredible thing, and we should pay more attention to that in whatever way it happens.”

Wall has spent 26 years living in Juneau and the last 25 years teaching and writing poetry at the University of Alaska Southeast. As a mother of three, she said the idea to write the book came to her after the birth of her third child when during that time she regularly talked to other parents about their experiences with childbirth.

[Serenity and salinity: Emily Anderson’s ‘Salt & Water’ nearly ready to flow]

Wall said she found herself in awe of how “diverse and powerful” each story was, and it inspired her to write poetry that reflects each birth of the people she interviewed in its own unique way that embraces that no birth is the same.

“Some of these stories are beautiful, but some of these are terrible,” Wall said. “There has certainly been shame associated with it, and I hope the theme is to show what a powerful experience this is, and there is no right or wrong way.”

Wall said everyone and “their grandpa” will find something that connects them to this book. The stories vary from the happiness of a healthy birth to another detailing a lesbian couple’s journey to pregnancy through in vitro fertilization, but many stories share the reality of loss and the pain felt when things don’t go to plan.

Shayna Rohwer, a nurse, and mother whose birth story was one of the stories included in the book, said she found comfort and reflection being about to share her story and see her story being transformed into a poem.

“It’s such a cool project hearing from different people. I think in our culture we don’t spend a lot of time talking about the stories of our births and how impactful it is for the rest of our lives,” Rohwer said.

From her time as a nurse, Rohwer said birth stories are especially important to her, as she has firsthand seen the impact childbirth has on the patients she works with.

“Women remember the day that they give birth for the rest of their lives,” Rowher said. “To share and have someone write about it in another context is really powerful.”

Wall’s book, “Breaking into Air: Birth Poems,” is available for purchase at Hearthside Books and Kindred Post in Juneau, or online. Wall is set to host a book signing at the Merchants Wharf Hearthside for July’s First Friday, as well as a reading in September at the Douglas Public Library.

Contact reporter Clarise Larson at clarise.larson@juneauempire.com. Follow her on Twitter at @clariselarson.

More in News

A Princess Cruise Line ship is docked in Juneau on Aug. 25, 2021. (Michael Lockett / Juneau Empire File)
Ships in Port for the week of June 26

Here’s what to expect this week.

The Alaska Department of Health And Social Services building in Juneau has no visible signs indicating the department is splitting into two agencies as of Friday. Top officials at the department said many of the changes, both physical and in services, are likely weeks and in some cases months away. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Little sign of big change for DHSS

No commissioner at new department, other Dept. of Health and Social Services changes may take months

Elizabeth Peratrovich Hall, 320 W. Willoughby Ave., will be open as a cooling center through Wednesday for elders who need a cool place during the ongoing heatwave. (Michael S. Lockett / Juneau Empire)
Tlingit and Haida opens cooling center for elders

Keep your cool during the heatwave.

An Alaska Seaplanes Cessna 208A, seen here on the tarmac, suffered damage after failing to achieve takeoff near Elfin Cove on Sunday, June 26, 2022. (Courtesy photo / Alaska Seaplanes)
No one hurt after plane’s takeoff goes awry

The aircraft failed to achieve take off and hit the beach while leaving Elfin Cove.

A 13-year-old girl was medevaced Saturday after being struck by a vehicle near the crosswalk across Egan Drive by Gold Creek. (Michael S. Lockett / Juneau Empire)
Teen in serious condition after SUV strikes bike

Juneau Police Department is investigating.

The Norwegian Sun sat moored in Juneau on Monday after striking striking ice Saturday afternoon near Yakutat Bay on its way to Skagway. (Michael S. Lockett / Juneau Empire)
Update: Cruise ship that struck iceberg departs Juneau

It’s heading to Seattle for repairs.

Drag queen Gigi Monroe reads a book about a wig during Drag Storytime at the Mendenhall Valley Public Library. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire)
One for the books: Drag Storytime returns

Balloons, books, bustin’ moves.

FILE - Tara Sweeney, a Republican seeking the sole U.S. House seat in Alaska, speaks during a forum for candidates, May 12, 2022, in Anchorage, Alaska. Sweeney's campaign manager said, Wednesday, June 22, 2022, that the campaign did not plan to sue over a finding released by Alaska elections officials stating that she cannot advance to the special election for U.S. House following the withdrawal of another candidate. (AP Photo / Mark Thiessen, File)
Alaska Supreme Court ruling keeps Sweeney off House ballot

In a brief written order, the high court said it affirmed the decision of a Superior Court judge.

President Joe Biden signs into law S. 2938, the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act gun safety bill, in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington, Saturday, June 25, 2022. First lady Jill Biden looks on at right. (AP Photo / Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
President signs landmark gun measure, says ‘lives will be saved’

The House gave final approval Friday, following Senate passage Thursday.

Most Read