A Tribute to the Prioress
Hoodwinked mink draped, disheveled
Acid lined lips, solarium burns
Archaic Bitch diesel, mingled menthol
Yellow talons tapping antagonistic dissimilarity
Vacuous ill-disposed soul
T. Altman 2017
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:
“Wear your heart on your skin in this life.”
― Sylvia Plath
(c) T. Altman 2017
Other than my mother who greatly influenced my love of reading, growing up – I was surrounded by people who didn’t read for pleasure or personal growth. I, however spent a significant amount of time reading for the love and knowledge.
I know people who say they haven’t read a book since they were forced to in school and that boggles my mind because I couldn’t imagine that myself. A couple of these same people have then gone out and read the Twilight or 50 Shades trilogies due to the hype in the media and think its the best literary creations they have ever come across (simply because they haven’t exposed themselves to reading anything else). I completely disagree but the way I look at it is that at least they are reading SOMETHING!
I personally believe you need to exercise your brain and reading does that.
Regardless of the book being good or not according to best seller lists, reviews, recommendations or the like – just do it – read a book and expand your mind as its never too late to do that!
Taken from the Modern Mrs Darcy website I took up the following challenge for 2016 and here is my completed list:
A book published this year:
Harry Potter and The Cursed Child by JK Rowling
A book you can finish in a day:
Alone by Beverley Farmer
A book you’ve been meaning to read:
The Hollow of the Hand by PJ Harvey
A book recommended by your local librarian or book seller:
Girl in the Dark by Anna Lyndsey
A book you should have read in school:
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
A book chosen for you by your spouse, partner, sibling, child, or BFF:
Imajica by Clive Barker
A book published before your were born:
Aesop’s Fables by Aesop
A book that was banned at some point:
The Flowers of Evil by Charles Boudelaire
A book you previously abandoned:
The Unruly Passions of Eugenie R by Carole De Santi
A book you own but have never read:
Ordeal by Linda Lovelace
A book that intimidates you:
When the Wattles Bloom Again by Shirley W Wencke
A book you’ve already read at least once:
The Complete Words of Edgar Allan Poe