I've been working on a series of childbirth poems based on the experiences of women in the early twentieth century and earlier of medical intervention in childbirth. I happened to be reading up on the work of filmmaker Irene Lusztig when I came across the very interesting and rather gruesome history of medical intervention in childbirth. It's a debate that still rages today and people have very strong feelings about.
The poems took me by surprise. I found references to childbirth creeping into my poems rather consistently over this last year and yet didn't feel I could explore it as a subject fully in an original way.
Suddenly I found a new way to write about childbirth through the personae of women who experienced rather dreadful medical interventions. So I've been a bit obsessed about reading up on terrible childbirth experiences! So far I have eight poems in the sequence and I feel there are a few more to come at least.
I've also been utterly delighted by Jay Parini's book on Roethke. A fantastic analysis of Roethke's poems, influences and the theory behind them. It's been a lot to take in and a book I'll be reading over several times. I feel it's answered a lot of my questions about Roethke and Plath's writing - about the role of mysticism, mythology and the transcendentalism of the American Romantic tradition.