Poetry never seemed like anything particularly mindblowing. I’d enjoyed that feeling of solving crimes you’d get in GCSE English but it had always felt like a bit of a chore. This carried on through my first year of A Levels until I first encountered Sylvia Plath.
Her poetry was something powerful, something dramatic that was tangible. I could hold her words in my hand. The punctuation was a revelation. When I read ‘Lady Lazarus’ I saw that poetry didn’t have to be tame and polite as Emily Dickinson had seemed to me a year ago. I re-read ‘Death of a Naturalist’ and felt an affinity with Seamus Heaney’s subject: himself. Anybody participating in the performance arts knows how self-absorbed we can be, so I naturally emulated that mindset when looking at the world. Where I had once grimaced at my self-obsession, I now indulged in it.
Soon enough, as most poets do, I experienced something normally insignificant which sparked a link in my mind, I was invited to a party and my first thought was “it’s just going to be instagram conversations and hooking up”. This thought made me feel that I had an older mindset to my colleagues at school, hence came ‘the Grey man’ which can be found here: http://thegreymanpoetry.blogspot.co.uk/2014/06/the-grey-man-its-terrible-disposition.html. When I was editing this after pouring words onto the page, my subconscious made all of the decisions: I kept feeling like a comma was missing here and that word needed capitalisation, but I also use a logical process when working on more technically ambitious poems.
This poem, ‘Reptilian drought’, was inspired by my non-existent reaction to a recent mild trauma. I wanted to use images to describe my inability to cry, as they leave ambiguity which is one of the key features I’ve taken from Plath. Anatomy is very interesting to me, and crops up in a lot of my work so I did take a literal viewpoint as well as being figurative.
by Dushant Patel
My eyes are like children
flitting around and never interested in the internal
they’re too curious to not absorb everything
My eyes are hoarders
they collect from everywhere they go
stuffing their own black bags
My eyes are a desert
where prosperity is the only possibility
and pathogens are shut out
My eyes are like a strong woman
labelled cold and unyielding
truly, they’re let down by what’s behind them