Friday, November 30, 2018

The Pirated Sylvia

All the Twists of the Tongue

Like many creative writing undergrads, I got a fair amount of poetic inspiration from Sylvia Plath. Arguably, too much.  And when I left college, her work was one of only a couple things I continued studying (the other being the American Civil War, but that’s another story).  Anyone with a passing knowledge of Plath knows what a shit her husband (Ted Hughes) was and that, besides her suicide, the biggest tragedy was that control over her work went to Hughes and his sister.  He edited her final collection of poems, Ariel, and her journals.  In publishing the latter, Hughes removed some passages he didn’t think were fit for public consumption; many painted him in a bad light.

Cathleen Conway has crafted a collection of found poems using these removed fragments as source material. All the Twists of the Tongue is a masterful work that shapes the voice of Plath into something else . . . familiar but different.  Being Plath-based, the poems include a healthy dose of darkness, but there’s a winking lightness when the poems brush against the mythology.  Like in “Bildungsroman” . . . “I know about / the pirated Sylvia.  Ego and Narcissus.  I resent pirated Sylvia.”  Lovely.

From “Falcon Yard”:

“It is a narrow-minded way of looking at things:
ugly raised wrist-scars, no false notes.

So nasty and cruel and calculated—
how he praised this in me.

I was guilty of an indiscretion…
what a fool one is to sincerely love.”

You can order a copy (or copies) on the Titles page.  Cat ordered extra copies to distribute in the U.K., but there are international-shipping options (with separate prices) in you need to order here.  In either case, do yourself a favor.

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