My Mother’s House is the most moving poem I’ve ever played. It’s the work of poet Victoria Bennett, inspired by her experience caring for her terminally-ill mother, and reliving some of the shared memories in her home.
As I explored it, the poem brought back my recent memories of helping my own mother clear out my late grandfather’s house, remembering and sometimes learning for the first time about different aspects of his life.
“For me as a poet, the idea was that somebody could explore a poem from a different angle other than just reading or hearing it: where it becomes something that can be played and experienced in different ways,” says Bennett. “Turning the poem into a physical build so that people were exploring the space.”
Bennett hopes that My Mother’s House shows the potential of games as another tool that could help parents and children open up to one another about death and grief.
“Although Minecraft is most popular for children, it’s not limited to them. And, similarly, neither is grief limited to adults: children experience trauma, they experience difficult stuff,” says Bennett.
“Something like Minecraft could allow people – children and adults, but maybe particularly children – to explore and talk about and take ownership of their own stories, and work with those narratives in a very non-threatening, accessible way.”
Bennett adds that the most emotional part of the project was showing the finished poem-world to her mother.
“It was a very moving experience to share it with my mum once it was done. Although the poem elaborates on the idea of somebody dying, she’s still alive – but we know that this is coming. It was very unusual and unique to share the experience of what it was feeling like for me and for her, in a realm that was completely alien to her,” she says.