a found poem: The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath As vacant as ambitions or wholesome words I have no right to solace here in this bitter universe. I am vain and despairing and beyond addled and my disintegrated heart is jealous of all good men who are at peace. I know my life can’t be sweet and I envy the stars— those too golden poems. Time must be gentle up there. Process from the artist: These poems are part of a collection of Sylvia Plath found poems focused on the bipolar experience. I select a paragraph from a Plath text and only use the words from that paragraph to create a poem—I don’t allow myself to repeat words, add words, or edit the language for tense or any other consideration. from The Journals of Sylvia Plath Mother wrote today with a good letter of maxims; skeptical as always at first, I read what struck home: "If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain or bitter - - - for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.... Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here." Those words spoke to my heart with peace, as if in comment, kindly, on my life, my days. That first, touched on that ricocheting judgment I've made: despairing of the inferior, disintegrated men I know (who I can't consider for marriage) and blowing up the blonde one and the figure-heads all out of proportion. Envy and pride, and where's the golden mean, the man who can be mine, I his. When I start getting jealous of the five editors of Mlle for being married (with a pang - - - this might be me, that sweet word: success) or Philip Booth" for writing poems for the NY and having a wife and all that, it is time to build up some inner prowess; I am letting too much go vacant; I must build up a little series of sitting ducks, possible ambitions, to knock down, or I'll find myself sitting at the beginning of Easter vacation, addled as an egg, twiddling my thumbs. We get well first, then we work. Meanwhile, read Hopkins for solace.
Nazifa Islam is the author of the poetry collections Searching for a Pulse (Whitepoint Press, 2013) and Forlorn Light: Virginia Woolf Found Poems (Shearsman Books, 2021). Her poems have appeared in Boston Review, Gulf Coast, The Believer, and Beloit Poetry Journal among other publications. She earned her MFA at Oregon State University. You can find her @nafoopal.
Featured Artwork: Mt. Tam at Night Linocut Daoud Naouri, originally from Tangier, lives in Northern California. His work revolves around the frailty of humans and the beauty of nature.