29 October 2012

Tuesday poem: 'Sylvia fights off the boys'

Sylvia fights off the boys

Every time, it comes around
to this
I know when to expect it

He will caress my face with
his forefinger, his floppy
fringe hanging over
his eyes
He will trace
the scar on my cheek
back and forth
erasing it, and he will say
‘How did you get this?’

and each time
I tell another story

But the truth of it is
it was a rollerskating accident

and the truth of it is
a pirate with his rapier

and the truth of it is
I am a rotting apple
and it is my worm

and the truth of it is
it was the sharp bite of death

and the truth of it is
I hit my face climbing out
of my grave

but the truth of it is
good girls don’t have scars

A couple of days ago it was Sylvia Plath's 80th birthday, or, rather, it would have been if she had lived.

I'm glad she's remembered, though I often feel she's remembered for all the wrong reasons. She was a gifted poet – I can't believe she died at age 30. Who writes poetry that good before they're 30? How good would she have got if she'd lived longer? It's that death that gets in the way, that gets between us and her poetry. I guess that's just how it is.

When I was studying her, one thing that really struck me is what an all-American girl she had been. There was more to her than that, of course. This poem is my take on her at that stage of her life, when she was an all-American girl, going out with all-American boys. Though probably it's really about me. I have a scar on my face too, hence my obsession with hers. (Mine was acquired at a younger age, at primary school, when the boy playing cricket said 'Don't touch the ball', which had just flown past me. I, being contrary, immediately picked it up and ran away with it. He caught me and pushed me off a bank (it wasn't very high) and I cut my face.) 'Sylvia fights off the boys' is in My Iron Spine. Just to prove my obsession, there's another poem in there about Sylvia (and Ted) and her scar (and his scar).

I haven't blogged in ages, partly because I've been slack, and partly because I've been away. I might blog about that sometime. It was awesome.

For more Tuesday Poems, visit the hub blog over here: http://tuesdaypoem.blogspot.com.

14 October 2012

Reading poetry at Meow

I'm lucky enough to be doing a poetry reading at Meow on Tuesday 23 October (just after Labour Weekend) with Harvey Molloy and Saradha Koirala, MCed by Tim Jones.

Here's the deets:

Meow Café • 9 Edward Street • 7pm • Tuesday 23 October

Saradha is the author of Wit of the Staircase, published in 2009 and will be reading from her forthcoming collection, Tearwater Tea.

Harvey’s debut poetry book Moonshot was published in 2008. He’ll be reading poems from current work in progress.

Helen Rickerby is a poet, publisher and public servant. Her most recent poetry book was Heading North, published in 2010.

Here's the Facebook event thingy:

Here's the flyer: