When I was sixteen I read The Great Gatsby, and oh -
Oh! I said, how it flows, how does this gorgeous iambic pentameter
work its way through the valves of my arteries?
‘Within and without’ runs in my blood. Everything
sounds like money to me.
I wandered lonely as a cloud, only, no, old sport, I don’t wander,
I plan. I lift weights like Benjamin Franklin. I gaze
out, out, out,
I am the poet. I am the huntsman. I lie in wait. I have for years.
Sometimes I forget about The Bell Jar, but I remember The Iron Giant.
Let me tell you, I’ve watched that movie every year of my life since I was seven years old, and I fell in love with the robot
from a children’s story book to the big screen.
I have since studied Metamorphoses and watched the hawk fly through the rain, but choking to death on my own breath?
A touchy subject.
What does F. Scott Fitzgerald have to say for himself
when his wife’s journals lay strewn across his back catalogue?
Where was Ted Hughes when Sylvia Plath collapsed in the kitchen?
Boasting about his own work, or belittling hers?
In 2008 The Times ranked Hughes fourth on their list of ‘The 50 greatest British writers since 1945’.
Where is Sylvia Plath? Where is Zelda Fitzgerald?
Where are the women? Where are the gentle hands, the voices that clink like coins, where are the dangerous curves,
where is the soaring fire of our generation?
Show me your nails, filed to claws. Give me your
ragged hearts, give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
give me your words.
I want to hear your voices, louder and more insistent than ever before.
I want The Times to write a new list.
I need to hear the murmurs of agreement of every lecturer
in the Arts and Humanities department of each university
as they turn it over in their hands.
To see a split between every gender
so even that no one remembers where the line is,
where the line ever was.
This wave’s classic writers are gone,
so bare your teeth and show me your fighting stance.