Rediscovering Confessional Poetry

I am your opus,
I am your valuable,
The pure gold baby

That melts to a shriek.
I turn and burn.
Do not think I underestimate your great concern.

Ash, ash--
You poke and stir.
Flesh, bone, there is nothing there--

A cake of soap,
A wedding ring,
A gold filling.

Herr God, Herr Lucifer

Out of the ash
I rise with my red hair
And I eat men like air.

23-29 October 1962, an excerpt from Sylvia Plath’s “Lady Lazarus”

This is one of my favorite confessional poems … truly a masterpiece infused with palpable, confessional emotion. In the sense I began reading fiction again — no poetry until recently — as well as writing a zombie novel for teens and a picture book for the little ones, poetry and confessional poetry in particular left me for a spell but now has returned to me.

This book, and my general rediscovery of confessional poetry, began with an assignment in compassion from Dr. Lou, evolving into poems that have begun to evolve into a full-size collection, Eaten Heart : A Confession in Poems. Many of these poems were written in a hypomanic state which I think could explain my sometimes graphic sexual language and detail as well as the fact I wrote about 10 in the matter of hours. The sexual content also deals with a few of my manic sexual experiences after an intense heartbreak where I not only felt heartbroken but a numb shell of nothing. Truly nothing. This is why I must write this out. And I want to write this out knowing now I am in love and in need of unloading so much of the past to make room for my future.

I did not know in this state, in what it was and was becoming was from a therapy assignment. But now I know I am channeling not only my confessional poetry spirit but also confessional poetry in general. My compassion is deep for everyone I have ever known, for the good and bad; these poems and the moments in writing them have made me realize the necessity of pain as well as joy in shaping a life. That is really what Eaten Heart is about, what it needs to express.

The question of what was Eaten Heart was to be came up in an email after my reading on October 8th. It was asked by someone who is familiar with my work over the years and he was wondering about theses poems being very different in tone — an “edgy, dirty feeling”. Of course not all of the poems are like this, but many of them are. I think the contrast of these tones is the result of the complexity of emotion and memory as well as the subject matter I am dealing with. This collection goes between joy and pain in a constant flux as most confessional collections do … there are poems about true and reciprocated love that entails future happiness, as well as my considering things that happened in the span of a month I have since repressed and kept in the dark.

In a sense it is a swan song … maybe.

Published in: on October 27, 2008 at 6:52 pm  Comments (2)  
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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. You describe well the emotion and how hard it is to pull out from you and get on paper into something concrete like a poem–such anger in the Plath poem 🙂 Sheri

  2. Thanks, Sheri …

    The “anger” in many of Plath’s poems are sincere and forgivable. I can only hope the anger that bubbles up from my poems on occasion is so seamlessly sincere.

    Thanks again for your comment!

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