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  • Writer's pictureNazifa Islam

Sylvia Plath Found Poem in The Southern Review

I'm so excited to share that I have a Sylvia Plath found poem in the Spring 2024 issue of The Southern Review! Purchase your copy of the issue today! "The Wind Whipped Tears into My Eyes" was written using a paragraph from The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath. I wrote this poem while I was in Paris in December 2022 for a concert featuring a song adaptation of a different Sylvia Plath found poem, "Psyche." I wrote four Sylvia Plath found poems on that trip and every single one has been accepted for publication by journalsThe Southern Review, Mississippi Review, and The Rumpus. If I need writing inspiration in the future, I think going back to Paris will help.


Here is the paragraph I used for the poem with the words I selected in red:


Now I am surely becoming an incurable romantic. But please, hear me out. After the play we walked out, breaking from the crowd that pushed out in knots of people up the aisles, raveling at the exit-signs. Another cold black March night. So I said to myself, unassuming creature that I am, "he-was-being- chivalrous-last-night-because-it-was-traditional-to-kiss-date-after-dance." I steeled myself to a cool goodbye at the head of the stairs. "I have something to show you," he said as we neared the house. He turned our steps across the street to the Chem Lab." There was a road on the hill behind the building, and a fence bordering the road, and a field of grass beyond the fence. I sat on a fence post, looking over the field to the road below and beyond. Lights blinked yellow white, and cars moved and scurried to and fro. I felt what the 19th century romantics must have felt: The extension of the soul into the realm of nature. I felt that my feet were growing into the hill, and that I was a jutting outgrowth of the elements ... a humanized tree stump, or something equally improbable. He stood in back of me, hands on my shoulders, and the wind broke against him as I sat in the shelter of his upright body. Then we walked out to the crest of the field, wading through the grass, arm in arm. "You know," he said, "I was wondering how to be when you came - cool and casual - or friendly ... and you make it so easy." So he put his arms around me and put his cheek against mine, kissing me, then, once. The wind blew my hair back and whipped tears into my eyes as the two of us stood facing each other. Walking back, we talked about ourselves - conversation not to be reproduced - but I remember laughing as he said he had been wary of asking me down and a bit bitter because of my "popularity" When we got to the house I couldn't bear to have him come up stairs and see me in the light - windblown hair and tearful eyes may be delightful on a dark hilltop under the stars - but under a 100° watt Edison bulb in a narrow hallway - God forbid! So we stood outside, and he was softspoken and touched his lips to mine once sweetly as Chuck came out the door. I said good night to the two boys, and went upstairs alone.


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