Molly Peacock is a poet I love reading. Not just because of her poems – but because of how she talks, and what she says. There is a a lot of biographical material on her floating around but as you navigate your way through her words, you find gems…
Molly Peacock on freedom of speech: “I am wholly, and to use a word that I just used before, passionately, in favor of free speech in all its forms. I am completely and utterly slavishly committed to free speech and I think that anything less — one iota less — erodes democracy and that means that I am in favor of people being allowed to say anything.”
Molly Peacock on the dangers of writing, and writing poetry: “I was terrified that poetry would drive me over the edge. I just wanted a so-called normal life. But of course I couldn’t stop writing really. I had no choice about that. But I realized that I did have a choice as to what kind of life I’d live. I didn’t have to be crazy or drunk to be a poet.”
Molly Peacock on revealing yourself in your work: “In terms of privacy, there’s a weird way in which exposing something private about yourself gives you the control. It’s not that other people have exposed you. You have done it, and I think it makes a big difference because you have told a truth about yourself. If you define yourself then you’ve created the boundaries. In a weird way, boundaries create privacy. So by giving up your privacy and drawing a line around it, you’ve actually given yourself privacy.”
And finally….a poem. From her book “Cornucopia” which is worth tracking down, either at your local library, your local bookseller (an endangered species, alas) or anywhere you can find it.
I was going to be generic and say she talks and writes about things we all feel, but I don’t know that. I do know that, though she is categorized by many as a feminist author, and a poet who write of, about and on women’s issues….I can relate to her. Especially when she paints pictures…of things that I have felt.
Here, her words, unvarnished —
It shines as broth in a cup meant
to be brought by both hands up to tempt
a waiting mouth under a light shines, low,
somewhat harsh, then flickeringly half lit
as it, itself, is consumed. Slowly the toe
of the drinker curls in a gentle fit
of tension and satisfaction, as in
the reading of a novel’s last pages.
Were the wet mouth to speak, it would be
in a voice that hasn’t spoken for ages
because the little voice is so far inside
and the way back is a long, ill-lit ride.
Still longer pause.
And finally wondering: what is the path you take, to write like that….to do what she does? How do you get there?
Molly Peacock again, on taking risks: “I love taking risks in a poem. That’s what writing is about for me. But at the same time, the craft of the poem creates the net underneath the high wire. I feel there’s a weird combination of safety and risk—creating safety in taking a huge risk.”
And not just her. It’s a path covered with footprints of those who’ve come before, those still walking, those who just passed less than 5 minutes ago. Most walking, some crawling, a few running.
They leave their prints right there on the ground, if you bother to look.
André Gide: “Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore.”
Ray Bradbury: “You’ve got to jump off cliffs all the time, and build your wings on the way down.”
And Brian Molko: “If you try your dream out and it doesn’t work out and you become a casualty then at least you can say you tried. It’s a risk. But in order to do it properly and put your whole heart into it you have to burn your bridges behind you.”
Sssssshhhhhh.…..can you hear it?
A voice that hasn’t spoken for ages.
A little voice.
So far inside.
Can you hear it?