The Plath Poetry Project is one of the most unique poetry projects around. The central event involves writing poems that are inspired by Plath poetry. The poems are accompanied by explanations of the inspiration. PPP published a poem I wrote once before, and now they have published one I wrote based on Plath’s “For a Fatherless Son.”
by Sylvia Plath
You will be aware of an absence, presently,
Growing beside you, like a tree,
A death tree, color gone, an Australian gum tree —-
Balding, gelded by lightning—an illusion,
And a sky like a pig’s backside, an utter lack of attention.
But right now you are dumb.
And I love your stupidity,
The blind mirror of it. I look in
And find no face but my own, and you think that’s funny.
It is good for me
To have you grab my nose, a ladder rung.
One day you may touch what’s wrong —-
The small skulls, the smashed blue hills, the godawful hush.
Till then your smiles are found money.
My poem is “For an Adopted Child,” and if you read the poem and the explanation you will see how I came to write a darker poem about adoption.
For An Adopted Child
My children were adopted by the gardener and me as babies. My brother was also adopted by my parents as a baby. Although my kids are vocal about the positive side of adoption, that does not mean that they haven’t been scarred by the process of adoption. Adoptees aren’t born when they join their adoptive families. They have lives before that–perhaps a week, three months, or six years. They know loss before most other people. In the case of my kids, they are transracial adoptees, so that brings some more baggage along with it.
We’ve come a long way from the days when even educated people told adoptees they are lucky they were adopted, but there are still plenty of unenlightened people out there saying stupid stuff, never fear. It’s not lucky to lose your birth family, no matter what the circumstances. It’s not lucky to know loss so young.
I hope you appreciate “For an Adopted Child”; it’s one of my favorites.
I’m still trying to stay on top of everything, but last week kicked me in the behind. If only I could clone myself. I used to like that movie Multiplicity where the man is cloned several times. Remember that? It wasn’t a great movie or a popular one, but Michael Keaton is one of my favorite actors. I am always hoping to clone myself, but that unlike the Keaton character in the movie, I can control the clones–perhaps even operate their brains ;).
Not only did I have a jam-packed week, but a lot of little stuff went wrong. My anxiety level increased as the stress did. I’m wondering if this anxiety is a byproduct of The Artist’s Way program. So far I’ve gotten some advice from a TAW Facebook group. We’ll see how it goes.
But I am happy to report that I snagged a 2020 publication this week.
Still, if only I could learn from my cats that time pools up between our paws when we let it do so. If we’re chasing after it, we’ll never catch it.
How’s about this Marge Piercy cat poem?
Mine, says the cat, putting out his paw of darkness.
My lover, my friend, my slave, my toy, says
the cat making on your chest his gesture of drawing
milk from his mother’s forgotten breasts.
Let us walk in the woods, says the cat.
I’ll teach you to read the tabloid of scents,
to fade into shadow, wait like a trap, to hunt.
Now I lay this plump warm mouse on your mat.
You feed me, I try to feed you, we are friends,
says the cat, although I am more equal than you.
Can you leap twenty times the height of your body?
Can you run up and down trees? Jump between roofs?
Let us rub our bodies together and talk of touch.
My emotions are pure as salt crystals and as hard.
My lusts glow like my eyes. I sing to you in the mornings
walking round and round your bed and into your face.
Come I will teach you to dance as naturally
as falling asleep and waking and stretching long, long.
I speak greed with my paws and fear with my whiskers.
Envy lashes my tail. Love speaks me entire, a word
of fur. I will teach you to be still as an egg
and to slip like the ghost of wind through the grass.
What a beauty of a poem.
Let’s all remember to honor VETERANS DAY today!
This very sweet fairly new literary journal Dovecote has published one of my poems in their 3rd issue. Don’t you think the journal name is beautiful? A dovecote is a house for doves. I found this photo of a very old dovecote in the Utrecht province of the Netherlands on my old friend Wikipedia.
A place to house birds. A bird is often a metaphor for a poet. Because of the singing, ya know?
Well, oddly, my poem is not a singing sort of poem, but more of a shouting one. Here’s a different look at poetry than many people, especially people who don’t read a lot of poetry, hold.
At least October’s poetry writing month is over so I don’t have to feel guilt about not writing much. We are now into the big novel writing month, which I don’t participate in, having NO clue how to write a novel. I’m still spending more time revising, organizing, and submitting than I am writing anything original.
I’m also reading several new-to-me poems a day. I’m reading at least one novel, two memoirs, and one children’s book right now.
And I’m getting my morning pages done by bedtime.
But I also am juggling work-work, home-work, and cat-work, as well as trying to fit in the other bits and pieces of The Artist’s Way.
And I cannot stop my hit or miss exercising, which mainly consists of stationery cycling, some stretches, and a few weights.
It sounds like a lot, and it is, so can I keep it up? Through the holidays? HAHAHAHA.
All this and worries about what recipe to use for gluten free stuffing.
I almost forget the most exciting thing. I discovered Christopher Buckley’s poetry. I guess there is a political person with that name, but this is Christopher Buckley the poet. Here’s a sample.
Time to give up
grieving my mother’s loss,
faulting my father and
his Neolithic moral certitude
about every detail
on the evening news,
his general absence
hanging like the gray
sheets on the line.
Never mind how
mismatched in the heart,
I should be grateful
they were there at all,
for that moment
that childhood stretched
like fog, the beach empty
It comes to little now
who I forgive, mourn,
or thank. The dust shifts
and we are barely
suspended in the light.
I know this little thing:
there’s a boy somewhere
in a station where
the trains still run,
wearing scuffed brown shoes,
gray overcoat, and cap;
someone has neatly parted
and combed his hair.
He is waiting
to be taken by the hand
and told where we are going,
to hear we are headed home—
though I can see nothing
beyond the smoke
and midnight haze
at the far end
of the platform,
where I am not
even sure of the stars.
I do love how this poem speaks to the importance of our childhood experiences of family and place.
For the week ahead: Go get ’em, Tiger! (Haha, does that date me or what?) And, no, dear Tiger is not involved in that expression. Tiger says hi from her outdoor playpen.
My third fall publication is in Wilderness House Literary Review. Thanks so much to Poetry Editor Kate Hanson Foster. No relation, although Hanson is my surname of birth.
Do you know the work of poet Adrienne Rich? One of my favorites. My poem originated as I meditated upon the opening line of a Rich poem. It is the 7th in a modern version of a sonnet sequence called Twenty-One Love Poems.
THE RICH POEM:
What kind of beast would turn its life into words?
What atonement is this all about?
–and yet, writing words like these, I’m also living.
Is all this close to the wolverines’ howled signals,
that modulated cantata of the wild?
or, when away from you I try to create you in words,
am I simply using you, like a river or a war?
And how have I used rivers, how have I used wars
to escape writing of the worst thing of all—
not the crimes of others, not even our own death,
but the failure to want our freedom passionately enough
so that blighted elms, sick rivers, massacres would seem
mere emblems of that desecration of ourselves?
Notice how the second line says, “What atonement is this all about?” Is writing a form of atonement? This is a good time to ponder that question because Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement begins at sundown today and lasts until sundown tomorrow.
It is October, which means that it is OctPoWriMo, a poetry writing month. I can’t write one a day this month, but the special month itself did encourage me to write one this weekend using inspiration from the Plath Poetry Project.
Burningword Literary Journal has published my poem “Elegy.” This poem is on a solo ride with emotion and maybe shows a bit of my love of Sylvia Plath poetry (it is not the poem I wrote this weekend) and for fairy tales.
For those who don’t realize, an elegy is a type of poem. It is a lament for someone who has died or something that is lost. Anything described as elegiac is mournful.
Are you going to write a poem or more this month?
In honor of OctPoWriMo, I am offering HALF PRICE on any poetry consulting that begins in the month of October.
It’s fun that a wonderful new lit mag called Thimble has published my poem “Behold the Needle.” Isn’t that a perfect fit, though?
I hope that it speaks to people who have lived in more than one place and to those of us who feel a part of the place that they live. How much a part of you is your hometown, the state or the country you have made your own, or all the places you ever touched down in?
I don’t often write super short poems. To send them out I really need to put several teenies together, but this is an only. So I will share it here.
After the storm,
blossoms sway upside down
on the lake skin,
looking like tiny sailboats.
Without me they are debris.
The poem and image remind me of time spent on Lake Coeur d’Alene this summer. I love boating and lakes. My daughter said she could tell I was really in my element at the lake.
Felix was completely constipated last week as a side effect of the pain killer he was on for his cystitis. He had to get an enema at the vet. Poor Felix. One thing after another for him. I hope he is getting better now.
Happy Labor Day!
If you are disturbed by vulgarities and crass language, feel free to skip this post, but please come back next week because I don’t make a habit of subjecting people to it.
I have a nonfiction short story out in a new anthology published by Devil’s Party Press. The theme of this collection is a bad word in the title of each story. Lest you think this is sophomoric hijinks, the writers are all over forty!
Click through the photo if you want to order a copy. My story is called “The Self-Mindf**k.” See, I can’t bring myself to spell it out in public! As for the title of the anthology, you can read the book cover above.
Seriously, though, my story is childhood memoir, about the way the fear and anxiety of living in my parents’ home over a basement bomber shelter affected my thinking—hence, the self-mindf**k. Here is a little “teaser.”
In the summer I turned six, my father dismantled his cozy basement workshop and built a secret underground bomb shelter out of cement blocks. This intrusion into our home was my first encounter with the Cold War. Television regularly put us through tests of emergency broadcasting via CONELRAD, and at school, duck-and-cover drills were weekly rituals. The goblins in our nightmares were “Commies, Reds, and Pinkos.” The anxiety this threat gave me was palpable and made even more acute because I was supervised by nervous parents. I had to wear a cumbersome lifejacket just to play in the sand at the beach. Overprotective was an adjective created for my mother and father. I don’t know if I would have been a fearful child if I had grown up in a different environment. Maybe part of it was genetic. But a fraidy cat I was–too scared to attempt cartwheels or to ride atop someone’s handlebars. Living across the street from an intimidating dog was one more frightening aspect of life in those days.
Thanks to Marie K. Bailey I discovered I could post a deal on my first poetry collection Doll God on this blog. Ten bucks covers a signed copy and postage to a U.S. address I’m so sorry that I can’t offer the same deal to my friends in other countries. However, if you are interested in shipment elsewhere, please email me and let’s try to work something out.
Filed under #AmWriting, #writerlife, Book promotion, Books, Creative Nonfiction, Doll God, Family history, Memoir, poems about dolls, Poetry, Poetry book, Poetry Collection, Publishing, Writing