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  • Writer's pictureNazifa Islam

Sylvia Plath Found Poems in Sweet Tree Review

I'm excited to share that I have two Sylvia Plath found poems in the May 2024 issue of Sweet Tree Review! "I See Myself" was written using a paragraph from Letters Home while "Variations of Distaste," which closes with a call back to Mary Oliver's "The Summer Day," was written using a paragraph from The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath. Take a moment to check out both poems and to read the full fantastic issue!

Here are the paragraphs I used to write each poem with the words I selected in red:

Even while I write, I know this too shall pass and some day, eons hence, it may possibly be spring. But I long so much for some sustaining hand, someone to bring me hot broth and tell me they love me even though my nose is ugly and red and I look like hell… All the nagging frustrations and disappointments that one bears in the normal course of days are maliciously blown up out of all proportion simply because I am not strong enough to cope or be humorous or philosophical: my Vence story came back from The New Yorker (and now looks very absurd and sentimental to me). I can’t smell, taste, or breathe, or even hear, and these blunted senses shut me off in a little distant island of impotence… I am being sorry for myself, because there isn’t anyone here I can be deeply close to… Richard [Sassoon] will be going back to America this year to serve in the Army, and heaven knows when I’ll ever see him again. I sometimes despair of ever finding anyone who is so strong in soul and so utterly honest and careful of me. Having known him, in spite of his limitations, makes it so much more difficult to accept the companionship of these much much lesser beings.

…What is my life for and what am I going to do with it? I don't know and I'm afraid. I can never read all the books I want; I can never be all the people I want and live all the lives I want. I can never train myself in all the skills I want. And why do I want? I want to live and feel all the shades, tones, and variations of mental and physical experience possible in my life. And I am horribly limited. Yet I am not a cretin: lame, blind and stupid. I am not a veteran, passing my legless, armless days in a wheelchair. I am not that mongoloidish old man shuffling out of the gates of the mental hospital. I have much to live for, yet unaccountably I am sick and sad. Perhaps you could trace my feeling back to my distaste at having to choose between alternatives. Perhaps that's why I want to be everyone - so no one can blame me for being I. So I won't have to take the responsibility for my own character development and philosophy. People are happy - - - if that means being content with your lot: feeling comfortable as the complacent round peg struggling in a round hole, with no awkward or painful edges - no space to wonder or question in. I am not content, because my lot is limiting, as are all others. People specialize; people become devoted to an idea; people "find themselves." But the very content that comes from finding yourself is overshadowed by the knowledge that by doing so you are admitting you are not only a grotesque, but a special kind of grotesque.

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