Friday, May 23, 2014

In his review of Same Old Story, Nick Schroeder seemed to particularly like the poem I posted here yesterday, "No Day Is Safe from News of You." I was pleased that he liked it because the poem is one of my own favorites in the collection, though I've never been sure that it would necessarily attract anyone else.

"No Day Is Safe from News of You" is a conversation poem. That is, during its construction, I viscerally felt its structure and images develop as I was immersed in the work of another poet. My partner in the conversation was Sylvia Plath, and in fact my title is a line from her poem "The Rival."

While I intensely admire many of Plath's poems, I don't always (even usually) admire her as a human being; and this tension always infects my interactions with her poetry. I'm also afraid of her. As Hermione Lee writes about Virginia Woolf, "I think I would have been afraid of meeting her. I am afraid of not being intelligent enough for her.  Reading and writing her life,  I am often afraid (or, in one of the words she used most about her mental states, 'apprehensive')  for her."

"No Day Is Safe from News of You" is an important poem to me because, as I drew together its threads, I felt Plath's presence as a colleague, a seeker, an equal. This sounds hubristic, but it is not. I am not saying that my poem is as good as a Plath poem. Rather, in those moments of our poetic conversation, I was not afraid of her, and she was not derisive about me.

1 comment:

Maureen said...

What an interesting backstory to your wonderful poem, Dawn.

I had an instructor in college who was all things Plath and I recall being terribly intimidated by her. With straight dark hair that nearly touched her heels, she was one of the most intense people I'd ever met.