The first time I heard Staceyann Chin perform, it was (at the risk of dating myself) during the early aughts Broadway run of Def Poetry Jam, where the poet and activist joined a diverse crew of talents onstage at New York City’s Longacre Theatre for nearly 200 performances, before the show closed in 2003. Even then, with my years at the uber-progressive bastion that is Sarah Lawrence College behind me and more in New York City accruing, I was struck by Chin’s candor about life as a multicultural, immigrant lesbian, and her demand to be recognized in a world that still struggles with doing so, over 15 years later.
Following Chin’s trajectory in the years since (sometimes in overlapping social circles), it was a delight to hear of the arrival of adorable daughter Zuri, and to subsequently be regaled with social media posts of the young activist-in-training, as Chin taught her daughter how to be conscious and courageous in a marginalized world.
But as Chin reveals in the new Audible Original Motherstruck!, her path to motherhood was far from linear; based on a play originally directed by Cynthia Nixon and produced by Rosie O’Donnell, Motherstruck! chronicles Chin’s attempts to become a parent by pretty much any means necessary—and finding out in the process that family is a fluid concept.
Per a synopsis from Audible:
Meet. Love. Break. Recover. That’s been the routine of Staceyann Chin’s romantic life. But at 35, after yet another devastating breakup and overcome by an urgent and all-consuming desire to have a child, Chin realizes she’s running out of time. So she sets her sights on a single target: motherhood.
There’s just one problem. As a single black lesbian whose career as a poet and political activist has landed her on Oprah and in The New York Times but left her flat broke and without health insurance, Chin’s options are limited. Meanwhile, the Jamaican-Chinese Brooklyn resident can “feel the eggs drying up inside my aging ovaries.”
MotherStruck! is Staceyann Chin’s heartbreaking and hilarious true account of her years-long battle to become a parent. Helped on her quest by Peter, a gay man she marries to start an “army of children” and C.J., her supremely supportive brother-in-law, Chin chronicles her struggles to navigate America’s broken health-care system, multiple threats of a miscarriage, and weeks of doctored-ordered bed rest while desperately needing to earn a living.
Bonus points: Motherstruck! includes an original score by Grammy-nominated songwriter Meshell Ndegeocello. Chin’s account is also achingly honest as well as hilarious, at points—traits I recognize well from those pre-Zuri days. The Audible-produced release is part of their “World of Pride” content, celebrating Pride Month and the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots. Listeners can find more content to celebrate on their site, but Audible has graciously provided us with our own preview of Motherstruck! Enjoy.