What inspires me: Margarett Atwood’s Handmaid’s Tale

I have always been inspired by stories by and of women and I recently re-read “The Handmaid’s Tale” by Margaret Atwood.

38447

I have to start off by saying this book was recommended to me by a friend and I am glad she did as its become one of my favorite all time books.

The scary thing is that our current political climate can potentially lead to this dystopian world where women’s rights and reproduction are controlled by men in power and with that in mind its quite a thought provoking read.

This book has had a deep impact on me and my personal connection to feminism and the resulting treatment of women and their bodies.

Hulu has created a tv series based on the books airing in March and I look forward to seeing this great novel on the small screen…until then:

Nolite te bastardes carborundorum” 

Don’t let the bastards grind you down!

Poetry Writing Style

rose-764267_1920

I was around 21 when I showed a friend some of the poetry I had written up to that point.  We were planning on attending a poetry reading group and I wanted some feedback on my work before going “public”with it.  It was a huge deal for me, as before this I had never shown anyone my poetry.

This friend was very focused and silent, whilst she looked through my notebook of handwritten poems…mostly in neat print which at times became cursive.  After what seemed like an eon, she looked up at me and said “you write like Sylvia Plath” to which I replied “Who?“, as I had no idea who Sylvia Plath was at the time.

Like I’ve mentioned before – I wasn’t exposed to the best English literature at the working class public schools I attended growing up.  For the most part and if I am speaking frankly, I don’t ever recall being taught anything about poetry or poets for that matter.  The poets I had been exposed to were the ones I found on my own.  These tended to be poets from the Romantic era  like Byron, Shelley, Keats and Poe, as I had developed an obsession with the Victorian period as a teen.

Soon after, I found myself borrowing my friends copy of her collection of Sylvia Plath’s work and realized that my poetry did resemble her style.  This was completely unintentional and worried me so much I stopped writing for a while.  I was so fearful about not emulating that it made me stop creating any work at all!

Then, I finally read “The Bell Jar”.  I completely resonated and understood where the protagonist was coming from.  Something inside clicked.   I released the expectation and worry I had placed upon myself.

I went back to writing poetry and I write the way I am compelled to.  Whether it be free or rhyme, flowing or constructed, personal or observational –  I don’t care what I sound like. As long as I am getting my feelings out and expressing myself as I feel compelled to, I feel good about it.

Syliva’s style was autobiographical and so is mine and we deal with the same subject matter of depression, disturbances and death.  The older I get the more comfortable I get with my poetry and as long as I personally feel something when I write it, I will keep at it.

If you would like to read some of my work, here are a few poems I have written in the last year:

Poetry by Tina Altman

 

sylvia-plath
(Image: Sylvia Plath)

“Wear your heart on your skin in this life.”
Sylvia Plath

(c) T. Altman 2017

Flaneusing In Another City

In December, I went on a trip to Brisbane for a conference and took some extra days off either side, to be able to further acquaint myself with the city.

Even though I’d been to Brisbane a few times before, it had been years and the city has changed into a sprawling modern metropolis with more things to do and see.

I found my time being spent walking around the city most mornings before the mercury got too high.   I would then retreat to the comfort of my hotel room in the afternoon to read and write.

During one of my daily flaneusing trips, I came across the “Literary Trail” scattered throughout Brisbane which I thought was quite beautiful and a great tribute to the city’s poets:

15380286_10155690953629762_3147062203540357676_n

These walks were just what I needed to reinvigorate me with my passion for poetry and short story writing.

(c) T. Altman 2017

The Flaneuse (Female Walker Writer)

melbourne-1238234_1920

Up until recent years, I used to walk around the city, alone – all the time.

I used to work in the CBD (Central Business District) and other than walking to and from my office building, I would spend lunchtimes and after business hours walking around the streets of Melbourne.

I was engaged in the city whilst observing it – two polarities joined.

Sometimes I felt like the untethered explorer, whilst other times I felt a foreboding danger and retreated to the safety of a heavy populated cafe or shopping district.

During these times I would sometimes jump on and off trams and trains to see what I could find.  Sometimes, I would discover some well known artist’s graffiti on a brick wall or an independent retailer selling exotic homemade wares and even a budding musician busking in a underground train-station.

Now, I make an effort to go into the city and visit certain landmarks with purpose.   I am more aware of my surroundings as I take precaution whilst observing as much as I can take in, for inspiration.  I never knew how important it was for me to walk, observe and use that to fuel my imagination until I stopped and then went back to it.  I didn’t realise that like some of my favourite authors, I am a Flaneuse and my hometown is my muse.

(c) T. Altman 2016

What Inspires Me: Anne Sexton

A writers life can be a solitary undertaking but it doesn’t mean you are alone…

6633bfb498672ab554658b7c09905b2b

A Witch’s Life

When I was a child
there was an old woman in our neighborhood whom we called The Witch.
All day she peered from her second story
window
from behind the wrinkled curtains
and sometimes she would open the window
and yell: Get out of my life!
She had hair like kelp
and a voice like a boulder.

I think of her sometimes now
and wonder if I am becoming her.
My shoes turn up like a jester’s.
Clumps of my hair, as I write this,
curl up individually like toes.
I am shoveling the children out,
scoop after scoop.
Only my books anoint me,
and a few friends,
those who reach into my veins.
Maybe I am becoming a hermit,
opening the door for only
a few special animals?
Maybe my skull is too crowded
and it has no opening through which
to feed it soup?
Maybe I have plugged up my sockets
to keep the gods in?
Maybe, although my heart
is a kitten of butter,
I am blowing it up like a zeppelin.
Yes. It is the witch’s life,
climbing the primordial climb,
a dream within a dream,
then sitting here
holding a basket of fire.