Author photo by Peter's son, Walter Bakowski

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Syvia Plath writing in her journal, 23 Fitzroy Road, London, February 1963 - genesis of the poem and video link

Writing my Sylvia Plath homage poem involved reading several biographies of Sylvia, a biography of her poet husband, Ted Hughes, and a biography of the woman he left Sylvia for - Assia Wevill.
I also re-read Sylvia's poems, especially the ones written in the last weeks of her life.
A key fact that helped me in writing the poem was learning that the winter that Sylvia killed herself was the coldest London in 100 years.
Melbourne poet, David Lumsden, also encouraged me to write a Sylvia Plath poem that didn't mention gas - unlit gas fumes from the kitchen oven being the cause of Sylvia's death.
Over the course of two years I revised the poem a dozen times. Reading all the biographies concerning Sylvia, Ted and their circle, was invaluable to me in realizing the poem. I get lots of poems from reading - reading continues to seed poems for me. Click here to hear and see me read the Sylvia poem.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Portrait of Blood - background to the poem and link

Click on "Portrait of blood" (in purple) in the last sentence of this post to hear and see me reading "Portrait of blood" from my poetry collection, "Beneath Our Armour".
The poem is personal in that I was born premature with a hole in the heart and have undergone heart surgery twice, once at the age of six and once at the age of thirty-seven. Consequently, I've seen my own blood in tubes and syringes in doctor's surgeries and hospitals throughout my life.

The poem is universal in that we are all mortal/finite, all have red blood coursing through us no matter what colour our skin.
We are all vulnerable to bullies, conflict, known and new diseases, the fickleness of biology and luck.
"Portrait of blood" is the last poem in my poetry collection, "Beneath Our Armour", because I always like to have a philosophical poem ending a book and a poetry reading.