I've been such a rubbish blogger.
So I decided to write a random update post!
I'm not allowed to tap my feet in my house because my three year-old son shouts "mummy, don't sing with your feet"!
I normally read Plath's diaries over Christmastime every year but haven't managed to this year, I aim to read them this month though. Talking of Plath I read an interesting article in the Guardian the other day linked from Peter Steinberg's Sylvia Plath info blog: Nick Laird's Poems for a Baby. Laird states -
"I've been struck by how often, for male poets, having children roots itself in linear imagery, bloodlines, inheritance; whereas for female poets, the process is a form of replacement, of disappearing."
I was surprised to read this in relation to my recent baby poem which has the line about the trees and I becoming white shadows of ourselves. My primary thought was about post-pregnancy body shape, of me becoming a shadow of my former pregnant self. Now I wonder if there is an unconscious replacement thing going on here. One example Laird uses to support his theory (?) is from Plath's Morning Song -
"I'm no more your mother
Than the cloud that distils a mirror to reflect its own slow
Effacement at the wind's hand"
Laird picks out Plath's use of the word effacement, "the act of one thing erasing another" as the key thing. But what he doesn't mention is that effacement is exactly the word every full-term pregnant woman wants to hear as it refers to the thinning of the cervix, one of the indications of the body preparing itself for labour.
But I loved Laird's comment at the end in reference to his newborn baby: "I find myself holding the wee dote on my knee thinking, now surely to God I can get a poem out of you . . ."!
On another note, I've been reading in various blogs and things about the lack of lit crit written by women, one of the usual explanations is that we are too caring and nurturous by nature to step easily into the big bad world of literary criticism. Personally I think this is nonsense, women in academia are able to scrutinise just as thoroughly and mercilessly (if need be) as the next bloke.
I got my Edinburgh Review in last week, really enjoyed reading it - it was a Czech themed issue and I did Slavonic studies for a year at uni and loved it, in fact one of my old lecturers has an article in it! Anyway there was an interesting essay by the poet John Hartely Williams titled 'Speaking of You' in which he certainly doesn't set out to pull any punches. He writes -
"Nowadays those who consider themselves to be poets think they should write poetry, but this is quite wrong. The last thing one should want to do while writing a poem is write poetry. The whole project of writing a poem ought to be to dodge the image of itself that confronts it in the mirror. (not sure what he means here) Writing poetry...involves you in questions of vocabularly. One might give up on vocabulary altogether and stop thinking. That way you might arrive at a poem".
Williams describes himself as a warty poet who has eschewed vocabularly and stopped thinking and this enables him to write poems as opposed to poetry.
Although I get the point about poetry as opposed to poems, I love language, I love words. I love playing around with images, sounds and language but I also know that that amounts to very little if there isn't a poem in amongst those words, sounds and images, if there isn't that unknown thing that makes itself know to me (at least partially) by the end of the poem, of what the poem is actually about. I'm strongly in favour of the stop thinking part (not easy to do) but giving up on vocabularly and sticking with plain language, I don't think so.