The Lovely Rejection

I am very grateful to Cooper Renner, poetry editor of elimae for having sent me a lovely rejection mail just a few days ago. He took the pain of writing back that the poems I had sent his way weren't right for the magazine, but that they were accomplished work and that he suggested I should send them to the editor of their sister magazine with his best wishes. I promptly did so and well, one of the three has been accepted to be published. I am still a novice, but I am learning a lot about the publishing world out there!  


The Importance Of A Pen Name

It's been a hard choice deciding whether I should have marketed my erotic poetry with a pen name or not. I frankly believe that I have nothing to hide, but I somehow hope that this will increase my opportunities too. As my friend Kate generously pointed out, some of my works have a John Donne feel. So, the surname Marvell pays hommage to one of my favorite metaphysical poems, whereas Sasha is the nickname that Jack (Hirschman) gave me. Ever since he has called me that way. I believe that, what Kate says is particularly true insofar as the two poems that have just been published by Safeword in their July edition is concerned. Sasha Marvell exists at last!



Anne Sexton's "Briar Rose". An Armor of Words.

I have discovered that the poetry that works better for me is the one that--albeit metaphorically--has its deepest roots in life. I was reading this poem by Anne Sexton again a few days ago and I was struck by the cruelty it depicts. It's not about Briar Rose, or Sleeping Beauty, indeed. It's more about girls having to deal and cope with abusive fathers. Anne's strength comes alive within an armor of words. Can words be abusive? Certainly not as acts. But, even if they cannot kill they can perhaps be of help in effacing the past. 

a girl who keeps slipping off,
arms limp as old carrots,
into the hypnotist's trance,
into a spirit world
speaking with the gift of tongues.
She is stuck in the time machine,
suddenly two years old sucking her thumb,
as inward as a snail,
learning to talk again.
She's on a voyage.
She is swimming further and further back,
up like a salmon,
struggling into her mother's pocketbook.
Little doll child,
come here to Papa.
Sit on my knee.
I have kisses for the back of your neck.
A penny for your thoughts, Princess.
I will hunt them like an emerald.

Come be my snooky
and I will give you a root.
That kind of voyage,
rank as a honeysuckle.
a king had a christening
for his daughter Briar Rose
and because he had only twelve gold plates
he asked only twelve fairies
to the grand event.
The thirteenth fairy,
her fingers as long and thing as straws,
her eyes burnt by cigarettes,
her uterus an empty teacup,
arrived with an evil gift.
She made this prophecy:
The princess shall prick herself
on a spinning wheel in her fifteenth year
and then fall down dead.
The court fell silent.
The king looked like Munch's Scream
Fairies' prophecies,
in times like those,
held water.
However the twelfth fairy
had a certain kind of eraser
and thus she mitigated the curse
changing that death
into a hundred-year sleep.

The king ordered every spinning wheel
exterminated and exorcised.
Briar Rose grew to be a goddess
and each night the king
bit the hem of her gown
to keep her safe.
He fastened the moon up
with a safety pin
to give her perpetual light
He forced every male in the court
to scour his tongue with Bab-o
lest they poison the air she dwelt in.
Thus she dwelt in his odor.
Rank as honeysuckle.

On her fifteenth birthday
she pricked her finger
on a charred spinning wheel
and the clocks stopped.
Yes indeed. She went to sleep.
The king and queen went to sleep,
the courtiers, the flies on the wall.
The fire in the hearth grew still
and the roast meat stopped crackling.
The trees turned into metal
and the dog became china.
They all lay in a trance,
each a catatonic
stuck in a time machine.
Even the frogs were zombies.
Only a bunch of briar roses grew
forming a great wall of tacks
around the castle.
Many princes
tried to get through the brambles
for they had heard much of Briar Rose
but they had not scoured their tongues
so they were held by the thorns
and thus were crucified.
In due time
a hundred years passed
and a prince got through.
The briars parted as if for Moses
and the prince found the tableau intact.
He kissed Briar Rose
and she woke up crying:
Daddy! Daddy!
Presto! She's out of prison!
She married the prince
and all went well
except for the fear --
the fear of sleep.

Briar Rose
was an insomniac...
She could not nap
or lie in sleep
without the court chemist
mixing her some knock-out drops
and never in the prince's presence.
If if is to come, she said,
sleep must take me unawares
while I am laughing or dancing
so that I do not know that brutal place
where I lie down with cattle prods,
the hole in my cheek open.
Further, I must not dream
for when I do I see the table set
and a faltering crone at my place,
her eyes burnt by cigarettes
as she eats betrayal like a slice of meat.

I must not sleep
for while I'm asleep I'm ninety
and think I'm dying.
Death rattles in my throat
like a marble.
I wear tubes like earrings.
I lie as still as a bar of iron.
You can stick a needle
through my kneecap and I won't flinch.
I'm all shot up with Novocain.
This trance girl
is yours to do with.
You could lay her in a grave,
an awful package,
and shovel dirt on her face
and she'd never call back: Hello there!
But if you kissed her on the mouth
her eyes would spring open
and she'd call out: Daddy! Daddy!
She's out of prison.

There was a theft.
That much I am told.
I was abandoned.
That much I know.
I was forced backward.
I was forced forward.
I was passed hand to hand
like a bowl of fruit.
Each night I am nailed into place
and forget who I am.
That's another kind of prison.
It's not the prince at all,
but my father
drunkeningly bends over my bed,
circling the abyss like a shark,
my father thick upon me
like some sleeping jellyfish.
What voyage is this, little girl?
This coming out of prison?
God help --
this life after death?


An Untitled Gem by Angela

I found this poem by Angela Carter on the web today. It struck me with its terse words and apparent simplicity. There is a great writer's wisdom in the use of few words and strikingly compelling images. The cat with the spoon ears is just a brilliant sentence, but the last two lines literally give me goose bumps. I feel I have learnt a whole poetry lesson today. You've got a long way to go, my dear Alessandra!

My cat
Is the snow queen, 
This frigid virgin four 
Winters old crooks 
Her paw to wash a face 
As starlight, twice 
As cold. 
She puts back 
her ears like spoons
to listen to the wind 
behind her.
She eats 
For breakfast, hearts; 
For supper, northern lights.