Sunday, January 01, 2006

Menna Elfyn, Sylvia Plath and Me

(Well, I can dream, can't I?)

The following lines are from a poem entitled 'Bags' by Menna Elfyn, a Welsh poet born 1951:

Plath said
that poets make the most sublime packers
each word squeezed in tight
before we sit on the case, struggle to get it shut.

Among my New Year Resolutions is a vow to write more poetry this year than last; not a difficult target to reach, since I wrote mainly prose last year. But a novel is such a vast - and leisurely - canvas in comparison to poetry's postage stamp medium, and more forgiving too. So I will need to adjust my mind-set. The above quotation from Menna Elfyn's poem says it well; time to squeeze hard, shut tight, pack it all into the smallest space possible. But would avant-garde writers agree? I think perhaps, inevitably, there would be the corner of a hanky sticking out of my case, or the hem of a dress trailing in the dust of a platform. Everything always just about to burst spectacularly open ... or perhaps that's a post-Christmas feeling, brought on by too much pudding and rum sauce.

Happy New Year!

N.B. Menna Elfyn's poem 'Bags' will be published in full this month in Poetry Wales. Like all Menna's poems it was written in Welsh - the translation is by Elin ap Hywel.

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