The Girl from the Woods[30059]
Jaco Putker, The Girl from the Woods, 2014



I choose extreme words to impact upon the reader. I am aware of the full magnitude of how a reader can feel when taking a poem in. The presence of a poem can be so physically and emotionally charged that we can encounter ourselves in response to it.


           Language is a living thing and it reciprocates when I flatter it with attention. I feel the suppressed strangeness swelling within me. My language has no life unless I give it my own.


I write poetry about the dead and the missing. My words and losses converge. To live with grief is to live with desire. Robert Hass in his poem ‘Meditation at Lagunitas’ writes: ‘Longing, we say, because desire is full/of endless distances’.[1]


I can see eternal spaces, gaps and holes. We can be almost removed from loss, it is rarely graspable. I struggle at times; my language choices have a powerlessness to express the indefinable.


A poem is different. It is a mother-root, or a thorn in the brain. You cannot ignore it or you could miss something significant.



Ilya Kaminsky asks me: ‘Why such intensity? Is it too much?’[2]


‘Think assailable thoughts’, writes Jane Hirschfield, ‘or be lonely’.[3] I think this statement is very true. I am naturally an introvert and a poet; both can be isolating.


Sometimes it is less threatening and more self-fulfilling creatively to be lonesome.

I feel I must be vulnerable to write successfully about vulnerability.


In his poem, ‘Tea at the Palaz of Hoon’, Wallace Stevens celebrates the autonomy of imagination. I read his poem and notice that the narrator’s self-sufficiency is depicted as bottomless, evocative loneliness, which paradoxically deepens to his last statement: ‘And there I found myself more truly and more strange’.[4]



         I look at myself in the glass mirror.



        Ruth Pitter says: ‘our only obscurities ….should be those we are driven into, then a sort of blessing may descend, making such obscurity magical’.[5]



A poem is written.


[1] Robert Hass, ‘Meditation at Lagunitas’ in Praise (New York: Harper Collins, 1999), p. 4

[2] Ilya Kaminsky, ‘Of Strangeness That Wakes Us’, Poetry, (January 2013)


[3] Jane Hirshfield, ‘Sentencings’ in Poetry, 197.3 (December 2010)

[4] Wallace Stevens, ‘Tea at the Palaz of Hoon’ in The Collected Poems of Wallace Stevens (New York: Vintage Books, 1990), p. 72

[5] Ruth Pitter, Collected Poems (New York: Pan Macmillan, 1969), p. xii