A Writer's Ruminations

#lit

“That was the time in my life when I was happiest. Why, you ask? It’s a puzzle I leave to you analysts of the psyche. I have little time for notions of repression and sublimation, for symbols of the unconscious or the subconscious. I have no wish to be autopsied while I am still alive. Let what I am remain private, whole, and mysterious. Let it continue to yield sufferings and joys uncomprehended. And when I die may it all be destroyed, like an unopened letter.”

Dezső Kosztolányi, from “Happiness”, trans. Peter Sherwood (via unjustlyunread)

theparisreview:

“They were ‘dawn poems in blood,’ those lines stormed onto paper while the children slept; several of them were written through fevers, and the heat seared onto the pages, those old memorandum sheets marked Smith College, or the back of a manuscript marked The Calm. That had been a radio play, drafted by Ted Hughes in their flat in London early the previous year; now Sylvia Plath was in the Devon farmhouse they’d bought soon afterward, and Hughes was back in London, banished, their marriage over. It was late 1962, and in the space of eight weeks, it brought Plath forty of what would become her Ariel poems. They were, she wrote to the poet Ruth Fainlight, ‘free stuff I had locked in me for years,’ and now they were out. And they were astonishing. Only pain could have released them, only fury and outrage and jealousy and panic of the sort into which Plath’s daily universe had plunged. ‘I kept telling myself I was the sort that could only write when peaceful at heart,’ she told Fainright, ‘but that is not so, the muse has come to live here, now Ted is gone.’”
Read more of Belinda McKeon on Sylvia Plath and her last letters before her suicide fifty years ago.

theparisreview:

“They were ‘dawn poems in blood,’ those lines stormed onto paper while the children slept; several of them were written through fevers, and the heat seared onto the pages, those old memorandum sheets marked Smith College, or the back of a manuscript marked The Calm. That had been a radio play, drafted by Ted Hughes in their flat in London early the previous year; now Sylvia Plath was in the Devon farmhouse they’d bought soon afterward, and Hughes was back in London, banished, their marriage over. It was late 1962, and in the space of eight weeks, it brought Plath forty of what would become her Ariel poems. They were, she wrote to the poet Ruth Fainlight, ‘free stuff I had locked in me for years,’ and now they were out. And they were astonishing. Only pain could have released them, only fury and outrage and jealousy and panic of the sort into which Plath’s daily universe had plunged. ‘I kept telling myself I was the sort that could only write when peaceful at heart,’ she told Fainright, ‘but that is not so, the muse has come to live here, now Ted is gone.’”

Read more of Belinda McKeon on Sylvia Plath and her last letters before her suicide fifty years ago.

poetrysince1912:

Pictured: Thelma Wood and Djuna Barnes from Autostraddle’s 150 Years of Lesbians And Other Lady-Loving-Ladies. In the October 1959 issue of Poetry, Marie Ponsot reviews Djuna Barnes’s verse play, The Antiphon: Let me make plain that I find for her [Djuna Barnes] as in others of her generations dazzling gaggle of creative girls—e.g., H.D., Mary Butts, Edith Sitwell, Kay Boyle, Bryher—one radical resemblance: their art runs hard upon the nature of the numinous and draws its power from their transcendant sense of the work of the making artist. Three of them quote at various times and in varied translations, “A poet is a light and winged thing, and holy.” I believe they mean it.Brian Phillips, in the December 2006 issue of the magazine, explains that Barnes’s Nightwood was written “while living with Peggy Guggenheim after the breakup of her relationship with Thelma Wood.”

poetrysince1912:

Pictured: Thelma Wood and Djuna Barnes from Autostraddle’s 150 Years of Lesbians And Other Lady-Loving-Ladies. In the October 1959 issue of Poetry, Marie Ponsot reviews Djuna Barnes’s verse play, The Antiphon:

Let me make plain that I find for her [Djuna Barnes] as in others of her generations dazzling gaggle of creative girls—e.g., H.D., Mary Butts, Edith Sitwell, Kay Boyle, Bryher—one radical resemblance: their art runs hard upon the nature of the numinous and draws its power from their transcendant sense of the work of the making artist. Three of them quote at various times and in varied translations, “A poet is a light and winged thing, and holy.” I believe they mean it.

Brian Phillips, in the December 2006 issue of the magazine, explains that Barnes’s Nightwood was written “while living with Peggy Guggenheim after the breakup of her relationship with Thelma Wood.”

“There are rooms I won’t enter, at whose threshold I say

this is as far as I go, no farther, almost as if I can sense
there’s something in there I don’t want to see, or for which
to see means having wanted already to forget…”

– Timothy Donnelly, from “Globus Hystericus” (via proustitute)

(In my sleep I dreamed this poem)

Someone I loved once gave me
a box full of darkness.

It took me years to understand
that this, too, was a gift.

– Mary Oliver, “The Uses of Sorrow” (via oofpoetry)

“Kafka said, A book
must be an axe

for the frozen sea
inside us
, which sounds

great, but what good
is an axe against

a frozen sea?
Perhaps this is why

he said, while dying,
Destroy everything.

– Matt Rasmussen, from “Elegy in X Parts” (via proustitute)

“In a sense, it seems I am drowning; already half-drowned to the ordinary dimensions of space and time, I know that I must drown, as it were, completely in order to come out on the other side of things (like Alice with her looking-glass or Perseus with his mirror). I must drown completely and come out on the other side, or rise to the surface after the third time down, not dead to this life but with a new set of values, my treasures dredged from the depth. I must be born again or break utterly.”

– H. D., Tribute to Freud (via proustitute)

“I think people are often quite unaware of their inner selves, their other selves, their imaginative selves, the selves that aren’t on show in the world. It’s something you grow out of from childhood onwards, losing possession of yourself, really. I think literature is one of the best ways back into that. You are hypnotized as soon as you get into a book that particularly works for you, whether it’s fiction or a poem. You find that your defenses drop, and as soon as that happens, an imaginative reality can take over because you are no longer censoring your own perceptions, your own awareness of the world.”

– Jeanette Winterson, Paris Review - The Art of Fiction No. 150 (via leopoldgursky)

“… for though we wish to live
utterly alive, within our skins,
there lives in us another yearning—
that whatever harmonic is awakened in us,
reverberate outwards,
through our voice, our step,
and outwards
and outwards.”

– Moya Cannon, from “Harmonic Vases” (via proustitute)