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Seeking Breastfeeding Warrior Poets: Writing to Change the World

By Kathleen Kendall-Tackett, Ph.D., IBCLC, FAPA

In her book Writing as a Sacred Path, Jill Jepson describes four archetypes in religion and folk lore and how they relate to writers: monk, mystic, shaman and warrior. Of these four, the one that intrigued me most, and the one most relevant to writers in the breastfeeding field, is that of warrior. It’s an apt metaphor when we consider the power of words and how important they are in changing cultural paradigms, as Jepson describes,

One mark of a warrior is the knowledge that what she does can make a profound difference in the world. Because of that power, warriors are trained never to act recklessly or in malice. The writer too must live with that awareness. Like the warrior, you possess the power to alter the course of people’s lives—for everything you write, no matter how trivial it seems, might change some reader’s beliefs or impel her to act. That power makes you honor bound to write with the utmost integrity. If you are a writer, you are engaged in a battle for truth, justice and peace, whether you want to be or not. This is an awesome responsibility, but learning from the warrior, studying his practices, and following his code can help you rise to the challenge.

Pen and paper

Photo by Phil Gyford via Flickr Creative Commons

Warriors train for years to learn their craft. Yet writers often feel that they should be able to instantly put pen to paper and create something memorable. Writing, like any talent or skill, needs developing. But it’s important to start somewhere. Even our smallest efforts can make a difference for mothers and babies.

In describing warriors, Jepson offered another intriguing image: that of warrior-poet. The ancient world honored the warrior-poet: a warrior who could also tell the story. One of the first scenes in the 2006 movie 300 depicted a warrior poet, the sole survivor of the battle of 300 Spartans who held off the massive armies of Persia. The movie Braveheart also ended with reference to warrior-poets:

They fought like warrior-poets.

They fought like Scotsmen—and won their freedom.

The warrior-poet is also a fitting image for writers in the breastfeeding field. True, mothers and babies need apologists—writers who can defend and make a great case for breastfeeding, who can provide the facts, figures, and physiologic details. But that will only take us so far.

Breastfeeding also needs its bards. Writers who can see the sublime within the ordinary and capture breastfeeding at its most intimate. For in the end, it is not the facts that compel mothers to breastfeed; it’s the magic. We need writers who can convey that. I invite you to pick up your pen and become a breastfeeding warrior-poet. Mothers and babies need you.

Kathleen Kendall-Tackett is Owner & Editor-in-Chief of Praeclarus Press, Editor-in-
Chief of Clinical Lactation, and author or editor of 22 books, including How to Write for a General Audience, and author of more than 320 articles and book chapters. She will be teaching a workshop at the 2013 USLCA meeting entitled “Write to Change the World.” For more information, go to or


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