sylvia plath

For 2016, A Villanelle

I like writing poetry because it’s like condensing the feelings that are slowly expressed in fiction down to a few raw lines. I like writing in forms because it’s like a creative puzzle. The villanelle is tricky, because by the fourth stanza or so I feel like I’m really reaching for those rhymes, but it’s still fun. This form repeats the same two lines with only one other rhyming sound (A1 b A2 / a b A1 / a b A2 / a b A1 / a b A2 / a b A1 A2). Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night by Dylan Thomas, or Mad Girl’s Love Song by Sylvia Plath are exemplary of how powerful the form can be.

2016

Last year’s “new leaf” was a broken promise
folded by April, might have been May.
Here I am, the same five sweaters in my closet.

From then to now, twelve bucks in my pocket.
Yesterday’s commitments abandoned today,
and I was so confident I’d keep my promise.

Wasting my life away in an office,
My peers are fulfilled while I wait for Friday,
wearing the same shitty sweaters in my closet.

Cynical, yes, but it’s at least honest:
The scale hasn’t budged, a full ashtray…
enough evidence to refute my annual promise.

I fantasize what could be—solid, flawless—
But it’s a dream. Temporary. And I’ll wake
with scuffed shoes and pilled sweaters in my closet.

“New Year, New YOU” is an advertisement. Word vomit.
Self-reflection, decisiveness—that’s the language of change.
To 2016, I make no guarantee and offer no promise
Except to buy a new sweater for my closet.

Explore the villanelle and other forms, or just read some good poetry.

NaNoWriMo and Other Thoughts

I feel remiss for failing to write a single post in three months. I have plenty of excuses, but when it comes to writing, you really do have to make time for it and I’ve let life get in the way.

That said, I read Write on the River’s blog post for National Novel Writing Month and recalled that participating in NaNoWriMo was a goal I had set for myself earlier this year. I signed up, but couldn’t help feeling that my striving for a word count would have absolutely no merit in terms of quality. Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s a great initiative that motivates writers who otherwise wouldn’t be writing, but for me, perhaps it’s just NaWriMo.

I have two not-so-new novels that I think will really help me get my footing. I skimmed through Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar for inspiration while I was working on my 1960’s set thesis, but actually went out and bought my own copy as I want to read it a little more intensely this time, and I think it’s just one of those novels you can re-read every couple of years. Also, to build more ground for me to stand on philosophically, I picked up a copy of Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis. This wasn’t an impulse buy–two Sundays ago I caught a showing of “Freud’s Last Session,” a really great production of a very deliberate script that pits Sigmund Freud against C.S. Lewis in a series of religious debates. Although there is no clear winner, in the final moments of the play both parties agree that to not push, argue with, and challenge each other is the greater sin. I was brought up 100% Lutheran all the way through high school, and have since struggled to identify what I believe with ten plus years of adult life behind me. What I like about Lewis is that he doesn’t preach or lecture, but he legitimately makes a logical case for faith that is hard to disagree with. I don’t really intend to make any of my characters religious, but self discovery has never hurt my writing!

For all who are participating, happy NaNoWriMo, and good luck!

Having a Moment with Sylvia Plath

I’m working on a feminine drama with portions set in the mid 1960’s and decided to do some supplemental reading, which brought me to The Bell Jar and works of poetry by Sylvia Plath. I remember Mad Girl’s Love Song being the first example of modern formal poetry that was both accessible and captivating for me. The more I read, though, the more fascinated I become with the author. This latest read caught my eye, because the title was borrowed for an episode of “Mad Men” (which I am also having a moment with).

Lady Lazarus
by Sylvia Plath

I have done it again.
One year in every ten
I manage it——

A sort of walking miracle, my skin
Bright as a Nazi lampshade,
My right foot

A paperweight,
My face a featureless, fine
Jew linen.

Peel off the napkin
O my enemy.
Do I terrify?——

The nose, the eye pits, the full set of teeth?
The sour breath
Will vanish in a day. (more…)