Hollie McNish

To those that allege that the Norfolk and Norwich Festival is all middle class indulgence, Hollie McNish is the answer.

With a blisteringly raw take on the journey from pregnancy to motherhood, McNish is as far removed from artistic hubris as you can get.

Her language is simple, bold, and frequently blue, but it is undoubtedly hers. Whether talking about the unbridled terror of waiting to become a mum; or the secret society of pain she joined when giving birth; or the strength to stay composed when all around you (including the screaming toddler on the floor) are doubting your parenting skills – these were words that were unvarnished, honest, and frequently both moving and funny.

Reading from her diary come book, Nobody Told Me, McNish performed poems and prose that told her story but also clearly spoke to several members of the audience, with several nodding women and just as many men being elbowed in the side.

She burst apart taboos, speaking with obvious frustration at how clinical processes attempt to normalise experiences which are in fact entirely individual, and how society has such broken relationships with pregnancy, parenting, and the body.

There were no patinas, no menisci, no tortured poetical metaphors. Just rhythmic, base, and incredibly enjoyable thoughts and words from a straight-talking and empowering woman.