As a mother, when your child is born disabled and you later find out that the disability was possibly caused by drugs prescribed to you in pregnancy – how on earth do you cope?
In Saffron Palmer’s case, it was by writing poems, something she has done since age 12. The Walton mother-of-three’s first anthology “A Palmer full of poems” was published late last year by North Staffordshire Press.
The thrill of teenage shoplifting, the buzz of cannabis, the dread of the slimming club weigh-in and the wild urge to desert your disabled baby – is Saffron, who calls herself ‘a 21st century housewife’ – the first person ever to tackle such taboos in verse?
At her first poetry reading at Oulton Village Hall last December, her clear-sighted take on the drudgery of housework, headlice and husband’s Richard’s initially appalled reaction to her literary leanings struck such a chord with her audience that her first edition sold out on the night.
With titles such as ’Disability’ ‘Crazy Place’, ‘Mirror Mirror’, ‘The Grim Reaper’, Wicca’ and ‘Scales’ the poems are the fruits of Saffron’s far from easy life.
But there’s a lighter side, too, with humorous poems about favourite dogs, the comforting power of Yorkshire Tea and the ‘Coven’, Saffron’s canteen colleagues at Walton Priory Middle School, where she works as a lunchtime supervisor.
Saffron also writes celebratory poems to mark special occasions for family and friends. These went down so well that the recipients suggested she should make her talents public – in fact, Saffron now produces poems on commission and is planning a website to make her services more available.
But it was not publicity-seeking, but charity fundraising, that propelled Saffron into print. Her youngest daughter, Caitlin, aged 10, was born with Fetal Anti-Convulsant Syndrome, thought to be caused by a drug prescribed to Saffron in pregnancy. Caitlin now attends Marshlands Special School in Stafford
For every book sold, Saffron will make a donation to the IN-FACT, a charity founded in November 2012 to help and support families affected by Fetal Anti-Convulsant Syndrome.
“Felt out of control, wanted to run away / But who would be here for my baby next day? Gathered all of my strength and all of my will /And here I am today with my daughter still. ”
is how Saffron recalls her feelings after Caitlin’s birth in her poem ‘Disability’.
10 years on, Saffron and Richard see things much more positively.
“Caitlin is now like a gift to us,” says Saffron. “She makes us laugh every day and her innocence shows us how to look at the world in a different way.”
“A Palmer full of Poems” costs £5.99. To order, please phone or text Saffron’s mobile on 0751 2871982