I’ve got an op ed coming out in the Hartford Courant tomorrow about poetry and mental illness, which I’m happy but nervous about, esp. as they’re trying to do more videos = they sent out a photographer on Thursday to video tape me reading a poem as well. The photographer was much fun to work with, though gently let me know that the video had to be under one minute long…which meant that I had to scrap everything I’d prepared and pick a new poem and write a new intro immediately.
At least that gives me the opportunity to plug a few of poems a little more here, talking about what I wanted to read as well as what I did read…. I originally wanted to read “The Distance Up Close”
by Molly Peacock, because the sounds in it are beautiful and it features prominently in my piece. I find it hard to not get choked up (good for video?) when I read it too, esp. at the part about how “the fantasies that rose/from my young mind, guarded against my foes’/mocking by my own mocking, lessen.” –That makes me teary because it’s such a good way of phrasing why making fun of ourselves/ putting ourselves down (as depressives do to an uber-amount,) makes us feel like we’re protecting ourselves from others doing the same. (I’m having to hold myself back here, for ex, from totally making fun of how I look in the video and tearing my looks self apart as a form of self-protection against others doing so first….)
I picked Emily Dickinson’s “A Formal Feeling Comes” because I love it and knew it was super-short, but if I had more time to think I might have picked Peacock’s “Anger Sweetened,” which I also mention in the essay. Here it is:
What we don’t forget is what we don’t say.
I mourn the leaps of anger covered
by quizzical looks, grasshoppers covered
by coagulating chocolate. Each word,
Read rest of poem at Women’s Voices for Change.
This poem is especially important to me because I can use it to sum up what happened in a five-year romantic relationship I once had in which my then-partner and I never argued. Although we seemed like a wonderfully happy couple to others, when we got to the inevitable rough times that all relationships go through we fell completely apart, partly due to the resentments that formed when we didn’t express our small angers. They ended up gagging us, as Peacock describes, like chocolate-covered grasshoppers.
Oy. This poem has helped me pinpoint and understand one of the main problems with that relationship. Figuring it out has helped me to not make the same mistakes in others. (I do argue, when necessary, with my current husband. Sigh.) 🙂
Molly Peacock is the contemporary poet whose work has most helped me through and learn from my own difficult times, because her work helps me to understand the complexities of emotional situations.
I hope more people might read her work and find similar insight.