Category Archives: American Poetry

52 Years of The Bell Jar

TBJ

The Bell Jar was originally published on January 14, 1963.  So, as per usual, I am late in my blog post commemorating the anniversary!  If you’ve read older posts on my blog then you already know how much I adore Sylvia Plath and her writing.  I have her signature tattooed on my body, I visited the site of her former dormitory at Smith College, yadda, yadda, yadda….

The Bell Jar wasn’t the first piece that I read by Plath, but it is the piece that I connect with the most. I actually couldn’t tell you how old I was when I first read this novel, but I can tell you that I was a teenage girl struggling with things that teenage girls struggle with, but those teenage girl struggles sat atop something much deeper that I didn’t quite know how to put into words. Luckily, Sylvia Plath did. Finding this novel was like finding a confidant or a best friend who knew exactly what I was feeling. Someone who knew how hard it could be to just wake up in the morning and do the things that you love. Or just breathe. For me, this novel was a lifeline, and, in many ways, it still acts as one today.

Plath, like no other writer that I’ve read (yet?), illustrates depression very accurately. There is nothing fluffed up in the pages of The Bell Jar, and there aren’t any apologies either. The novel fully explores the darkness, the hopelessness, the madness, the stigma, and the unpredictability of the disease. You can’t necessarily look at another person – or their life – and really be able to tell whether or not they suffer from depression. But, yes, it is a disease, and, unfortunately, it sometimes feels as though it’s one disease that the sufferer needs to be embarrassed of or apologize for.

One of the greatest gifts that literature gives to the world is its ability to connect people across time, culture, space. In the case of The Bell Jar, we have a novel written 52 years ago that is as relevant now as it was then. To be a  person stifled by a bell jar of one’s own – to be able to pick up this novel and know that someone else out there, at some point in time, felt like you do right now. That’s an amazing and beautiful thing.

In conclusion, here are some of my favorite quotes from The Bell Jar.  What are yours?

“The silence depressed me. It wasn’t the silence of silence. It was my own silence.”

“I felt my lungs inflate with the onrush of scenery – air, mountains, trees, people. And I thought,’This is what it is to be happy.'”

“I saw my life branching out before me like the green fig in the story. From the tip of every branch, like a fat purple fig, a wonderful future beckoned and winked. One fig was a husband and a happy home and children, and another fig was a famous poet and another fig a brilliant professor, and another fig was Ee Gee, the amazing editor, and another fig was Europe and Africa and South America, and another fig was Contantin and Socrates and Attila and a pack of other lovers with queer names and offbeat professions, and another fig was an Olympic lady crew champion, and beyond and above were many more figs that I couldn’t quite make out. I saw myself sitting in the crotch of this fig tree, starving to death, just because I couldn’t make up my mind which of the figs I would choose. I wanted each and every one of them, but choosing one meant losing all the rest, and, as I sat there, unable to decide, the figs began to wrinkle and go black, and, one by one, they plopped to the ground at my feet.”

Plath

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under American Author, American Poetry, Sylvia Plath

I’m baaaack! and Maya Angelou

Hello everyone!  It has been quite a while since my last post.  Maintaining a house, a job, a pregnancy, and now a baby will do that to you, I guess.  Or, better stated, to me.  I am certain that there are plenty of people out there who could have juggled life and a blog all at once.  Nevertheless, in an effort to RE-kick start my writing, I’m getting back down to it and updating on a more regular basis.  Stoked?  Me too.

The world has lost a great voice since my last posting.  Maya Angelou was a blast of inspiration and will continue to touch the hearts, lives, and minds of people forever.  Physical death cannot snuff out the memory of her accomplishments or the legacy of her words.  Personally, I look forward to sharing her book, Life Doesn’t Frighten Me, with my son when he is a little bit older.  I read this as an adult and feel ready to take on the world and maintain the hope that my son, growing up, will find strength within its lines, as well.

Life Doesn't Frighten Me

Life Doesn’t Frighten Me

 

In closing, here is a video of Maya Angelou reciting her poem “Phenomenal Woman”.  The first time I heard this poem I was an awkward, confused teenage girl wondering what my place in the world would ever be.  The words took my breath away; she stopped my heart with the shock of the realization that being a woman is a beautiful blessing in this life.  I am strong.  I can rise above.  I can simply be myself.

Thank you, Maya Angelou, for all that you gave to this world.

Leave a comment

Filed under American Poetry, Poetry

writer’s block by Charles Bukowski

Today’s poem is about something that plagues me more than I’d like…

 
writer’s block
Charles Bukowski

 
the typewriter sits silent, it’s as if you’ve
been betrayed, it’s as if a murder has
occurred.
yet words still run through your brain:
“the Spanish bird sings!”
what can
that mean?
at least it’s a ripple, even if unusable.

when will the keys
beat into the
paper
again?
it’s so very easy to die long before the
fact of it.

I look at the machine resting under its black
cover; an unpaid gas bill sleeps on top of
it.

there is a small refrigerator in the
room, it makes the only audible sound
here.

I open it and look inside:
it’s empty.

I sit back down in the chair and wait; then I
decide to fool the
typewriter.

I write this
now
with a ballpoint
pen
in a red
notebook;
I am sneaking up on a poem;
there will soon be something for that
frigging
typewriter
to do!

there is a French expression, “without
literature
life is hell.”

the glory and power of that!

now let the Spanish bird sing!

2 Comments

Filed under American Poetry, Charles Bukowski, Favorites, Poetry

Quotable Monday: Wanting – Sylvia Plath style

I can never read all the books I want; I can never be all the people that  I want and live all the lives that I want.  I can never train myself in all the skills I want. And why do I want? I want to live and feel all the shades, tones, and variations of mental and physical experience possible in life.  And I am horribly limited.

Sylvia Plath

I find myself feeling this way quite frequently.  I guess that this is a big part of WHY I love Sylvia Plath oh-so-very much.

1 Comment

Filed under American Author, American Poetry, Quotes, Sylvia Plath, Women Writers

Yesterday by W.S. Merwin

Leave a comment

Filed under American Poetry, Poetry, W.S. Merwin

Adrienne Rich (May 16, 1929 – March 27, 2012)

My heart broke when I came across the story about Adrienne Rich’s passing.  She was an amazing women, artist, and poet.  In honor of her many accomplishments and contributions to the world of poetry, this weekend will be all about her.

Please enjoy the below videos of some of her poetry being read aloud:

What are some of your favorite Adrienne Rich poems?

Leave a comment

Filed under Adrienne Rich, American Poetry, Poetry

Alice Walker reads “You Confide in Me”

This is a lot of fun.  You have to love Alice Walker.

Enjoy!

Leave a comment

Filed under Alice Walker, American Poetry, Poetry, Women Writers

Louise Gluck reads Crossroads

Happy Sunday!

Leave a comment

Filed under American Poetry, Poetry, Women Writers

Song of Myself by Walt Whitman

I won’t lie – I haven’t really read anything by Walt Whitman.  Or, if I have, it’s out of mind.  This needs to change. The Guardian created a list of The 10 best American Poems that I recently stumbled across.  Mr. Whitman tops the list.  So, naturally, I clicked on the link to read Song of Myself.  Wow.  That’s all that I have to say.  Oh, and that I’ll really need to read more of his work as soon as possible.

Song of Myself (sneak peek)

1
I CELEBRATE myself, and sing myself,
And what I assume you shall assume,
For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you.

I loafe and invite my soul,
I lean and loafe at my ease observing a spear of summer grass.

My tongue, every atom of my blood, form’d from this soil, this air,
Born here of parents born here from parents the same, and their
parents the same,
I, now thirty-seven years old in perfect health begin,
Hoping to cease not till death.

Creeds and schools in abeyance,
Retiring back a while sufficed at what they are, but never forgotten,
I harbor for good or bad, I permit to speak at every hazard,
Nature without check with original energy.

The poem is long.  So, please visit this link to the page at Princeton.edu to enjoy the entire piece.

1 Comment

Filed under American Poetry, Poetry, Walt Whitman