458 Slices
Medium 9781780491929

Introduction: “The Soul Within the Symptoms”

Sue McNab Karnac Books ePub

Sue McNab

Curiously, and quite by chance, I sat down to write this introduction on the very day, 11 February, that Sylvia Plath took her life fifty years ago. Also by chance, it was snowing outside, but, unlike her, we were not in the grip of one of the coldest years on record, 1963. Various commentators, writers, and journalists are still weighing up Sylvia's life and death and, perhaps fittingly for this volume, they wonder how much of her untimely death can be ascribed to a lack of modern medicine and other medical treatments and/or attributed to the various contextual tragedies in her life.

On the day of her death, Sylvia was living in London with her two very young children, having recently separated from her husband, the poet Ted Hughes, whom she suspected had already embarked on another relationship with Assia Wevill. Sylvia, a highly intelligent woman, was trying to find her voice as a poet in the early 1960s in a land not of her birth. Her novel, The Bell Jar, which charts some of her earlier struggles with depression, had recently been published under a pseudonym. Her poetry told of the early death of her father and its effect on her. Her story—perhaps putting her brilliance to one side—is not so uncommon for those of us working in mental health services and its sense of complexity and tragedy seems somehow a well-timed place from which to begin a description of this book.

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Medium 9781771870825

Biographical Notes

Virgo, Seán Thistledown Press ePub

BIOGRAPHICAL NOTES

BRIAN BRETT was born in Vancouver, and spent his childhood on the road in his father’s truck, learning the Fraser Valley farm region, the native villages, and ocean and lakeside fishing camps. He ruined his knees walking over too many mountains, and has had too many opportunities to witness the destruction of the great raincoast cloud forest and the rich delta of the Fraser River. A poet, novelist, and journalist, the author of eleven books, his latest publication Trauma Farm: A Rebel History of Rural Life won the 2009 Writers’ Trust Non-Fiction Prize. His natural habitat is limited to the climate region where the wild rhododendron grows. He has spent his adult life advocating the preservation of this ecology. Currently, he lives on an organic farm on Saltspring Island, British Columbia.

Novelist and poet BARRY CALLAGHAN is included in every major Canadian anthology and his fiction and poetry have been translated into seven languages. His works include The Hogg Poems and Drawings (General 1978), The Black Queen Stories (Lester & Orpen Dennys 1982), The Way The Angel Spreads Her Wings (Lester & Orpen Dennys 1989), When Things Get Worst (Little, Brown & Co. 1993), A Kiss Is Still A Kiss (Little, Brown & Co. 1995), Hogg, The Poems And Drawings (Carleton 1997), Barrelhouse Kings: A Memoir (Little, Brown & Co. 1998), and Hogg: The Seven Last Words. He has published translations of French, Serbian, and Latvian poetry, and has been writer-in-residence at the universities of Rome, Venice, and Bologna. He was a war correspondent in the Middle East and Africa in the 1970s, and at the same time began the internationally celebrated quarterly and press, Exile and Exile Editions.

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Medium 9780253356864

24. Obscurity

Robert B. Ray Indiana University Press ePub

“I do not suppose that I have attained to obscurity” (218), Thoreau concludes, in a phrase so off-handed, so modest, so good natured that it conceals, in a manner absolutely characteristic of his writing, a startling complexity. For by trailing connotations of deliberate striving, “attained” converts obscurity from a “fatal flaw” into a longed-for goal, and abruptly Thoreau’s apparently innocent words align with his uncompromising ones: “Give me a sentence which no intelligence can understand” (Week, 151). Since all communication operates under the threat of illegibility, which most rhetoric exists to forestall, why would Thoreau wish to court obscurity, with its attendant responses “I don’t understand,” “I don’t follow you, “I don’t see”?

This move has been recognizable to us at least since the French symbolists’ attempt to make poetry resemble music, to rid it of any overt “subject matter.” Its lineage descends from Mallarmé’s reasons for revising his commemorative sonnet for Verlaine (“Wait … let me add at least a little obscurity”), to Eliot’s maxim that “genuine poetry can communicate before it is understood,” to Stevens’ near-quotation of Thoreau: “The poem must resist the intelligence/Almost successfully.” For Thoreau, however, the model was not music but the world itself: “We require that all things be mysterious and unexplorable,” he writes in “Spring.” “We need to witness our own limits transgressed” (213).

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Medium 9781847772114

Infantryman Passes By

Blunden, Edmund Carcanet Press Ltd. PDF

INFANTRYMAN PASSES BY

I

I

n the early months of 1914 I was very little concerned with world affairs, except that my mother used sometimes to caution us under the rubric ‘when you go out into the world’ which we told her meant at the moment the small market town 2 or 3 miles off. The scene of her repeated admonition was the schoolhouse in a very small village in Sussex, in the south of England, within comfortable reach – by bicycle – of the seacoast and above all the enchantments of ‘London by the Sea’, Brighton. Heroic expeditions to that city with all its huge hotels and piers and fashion parades along the seafront were sometimes managed, but my leadership could only be infrequent and while I was on holiday from my school.

The school was in the same county of Sussex and also inland, about as far away from the sea as our village, and that geographical detail used to matter in one’s feelings. It is strange now to think what a distance lay between the schoolhouse and the English Channel in a sense of security

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Medium 9781552452585

Drowning Doesn't Look Like Drowning

Heather Birrell Coach House Books ePub

Drowning Doesn't Look
Like Drowning

FOR A LONG TIME MY FATHER refused to talk about the accident. That he considered me at fault was obvious and how to integrate this feeling seemed puzzling to him – although, of course, not to me. I had lost him as surely as I lost my mother, lost him to a recklessness that had been mere frivolity in the past. My mothers risk-taking had always been extravagant but well-ordered, but my father grabbed at dangerous opportunities as if at bullets zinging past him. He had dropped out of the Superior trip because a gig had come up, a friend who needed help moving some cargo. Drugs? Maybe. Not weaponry, that was not his style. But that there was a hard edge, a large possibility of capture or injury, was a given. Sometimes wilderness trekking was too purely animalistic for him. Too distant from the intricacies of human infrastructures. Was my mother angry that he had cancelled – last minute – a trip that was meant to be my initiation into this type of adventuring? If so, she never showed it. In the days leading up to our departure, the expedition became ours alone – we gathered supplies, rolled and cubed clothes and gear into knapsacks built expressly for this purpose. She was a winker, my mother, and in those days she winked at me often, while reaching for a canister of propane, smoothing out a map, pointing out a buckle or clasp. Hugging me, the two of us wearing only our underwear and neon-orange life preservers.

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