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  • Writer's pictureNazifa Islam

Sylvia Plath Found Poem, L.M. Montgomery Found Poem, and Interview in Sacramento Literary Review

I'm thrilled to share that I have a Sylvia Plath found poem, an L.M. Montgomery found poem, and (I find this particularly exciting cause it's a rarity) an interview about found poetry in the new issue of the Sacramento Literary Review! "Gestures Toward Life" was written using a paragraph from The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath while "We Didn't Pick This Love" was written using a paragraph from The Selected Journals of L.M. Montgomery.


"The Art of the Found Poem: Interview with Nazifa Islam" offers a glimpse into my history with found poetry as well as the general process I follow to write found poems. If you've ever been curious about why I've spent the last decade primarily writing found poems, this interview is for you! It might also be handy if you've been tinkering with the idea of attempting to write found poems yourself.


I hope you'll take a moment to read the poems and the interview! The editors were kind enough to pair both poems with the paragraphs I used to write them—you'll see the words I selected are bolded on the webpages. More out of habit than necessity, I'm also going to drop both the paragraphs here with the words I selected for the poems in red.


What I fear most, I think, is the death of the imagination. When the sky outside is merely pink, and the rooftops merely black: that photographic mind which paradoxically tells the truth, but the worthless truth, about the world. It is that synthesizing spirit, that "shaping" force, which prolifically sprouts and makes up its own worlds with more inventiveness than God which I desire. If I sit still and don't do anything, the world goes on beating like a slack drum, without meaning. We must be moving, working, making dreams to run toward; the poeverty of life without dreams is too horrible to imagine: it is that kind of madness which is worst: the kind with fancies and hallucinations would be a bosch-ish relief. I listen always for footsteps coming up the stairs and hate them if they are not for me. Why, why, can I not be an ascetic for a while, instead of always teetering on the edge of wanting complete solitude for work and reading, and, so much, so much, the gestures of hands and words of other human beings. Well, after this Racine paper, this Ronsard-purgatory, this Sophocles, I shall write: letters and prose and poetry, toward the end of the week; I must be stoic till then.


This has been such a perfectly exquisite day that I’ve just got to say something about it. It was so bright and crisp, with an exhilarating air and such a lovely sky—brilliantly blue, with lacy trails of misty white cloud straying over it. But I hadn’t much time to enjoy it. We were picking potatoes all day up in our hill field. I don’t think anybody ever got to such a pitch of virtue as to like potato-picking. I hate it! But since pick I had to I was glad it was up in the hill field because I love that field. There is such a glorious view from it—the deep blue sea, the pond as blue as a sapphire, the groves of maple and birch just turning to scarlet and gold, the yellow stubble-lands and the sere pastures. I just love to look at such things. But glory be that we are done with the potatoes! To be sure, potato-picking has its funny side. It would have made a hermit laugh to have seen Lu and me as we trudged home tonight, in tattered, beclayed old dresses, nondescript hats and faces plastered with dirt and mud. But we didn’t feel funny—no, indeed!


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