The Risk Of Suicide In Poets And Their Works

Poetry has always been a medium for the subjects we least like to discuss. It’s a way to describe our innermost thoughts without saying exactly what we mean, and that’s why it’s so special. A poem is always open to interpretation, and that means that many readers will never truly understand the mind of the poet. But that’s okay. This style of writing is meant to be fluid.

Many readers believe that a number of writers who have committed suicide left clues in their poems–Sylvia Plath chief among them. According to research on the subject, writers who have committed suicide veer toward subjects of social detachment and narcissism, in stark contrast with writers who lived to a ripe old age or died naturally.

Writers are known to commit suicide at a greater rate than average, poets in particular, so it might not come as too much of a surprise that depressed writers tend to choose darker words and explore darker subjects than happy writers. According to the same research, struggling writers often stick to the first-person point of view, using the word “I” at higher rates.

Today, poetry is used as a medium in order to prevent suicide. It is used to explore our feelings of grief after a loss or teach others about options to cope with depression.

There are those who believe it’s the nature of poetry that causes depression among poets. When you write, you most often do it alone. As a species, we most often focus on the negative over the positive. Poetry is a means of personal expression, and therefore it focuses on the bad over the good. Then again, poets also have increased rates of mental illness. Is creativity a predictor of depression or other mental illness?

Poets tend to die an average of six years earlier than those in other professions. This is due to increased rates of alcohol and drug abuse, suicide, and all the health concerns that result. Whether or not this is causative is open to debate. Perhaps those who are depressed are simply more likely to turn to poetry as a means of coping.

The Best Underrated Poets

Not everyone can get into poetry, and that’s okay. Sometimes a concrete narrative you don’t have to interpret is easier on the mind, and sometimes a visual narrative is easiest of all. Then there are those who turn to the interactively visual narratives of video games. All of these represent different artforms, and yet even today poetry seems the most underrated. Who are the most underrated modern-day poets? Here are just a few who deserve a more in-depth look!

Michael Hettich’s work is an inspiration. It’s a nice change of pace for those who prefer the narrative approach to storytelling, and it’s easy to read. You’ll find yourself thrown back in time with poems like First Day of Class or And We Were Nearly Children. These works are simple yet subtle, and that’s what we like.

Ars Poetica, written by Archibald Macleish, represents quite the opposite. It’s short and sweet, but it’ll put your mind to work. It’s not necessarily about inherent meaning; what it means to you will be different from what it means to anyone else. We each have our own unique memories and this poem is a great way to stir them up.

Here’s an excerpt:

“Leaving, as the moon behind the winter leaves,
Memory by memory the mind–”

Give it a try!

Ross Gay’s Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude is another deserving title on our list. He speaks to his audience directly, spurring fantastically colorful imagery, sounds, and smells in our imaginations. Not only will this poem elicit many outdoor memories, but it can coerce some dark thoughts as well.

An excerpt:

“I mean tons — of cowshit
And stood ankle deep in swales of maggots
Swirling the spent beer grains
The brewery man was good enough to dump off…”

Karen Head studied at the School of Literature, Media, and Communication of Georgia Tech but her imagination might have you believing she’s a product of Harvard. She writes about mature topics, as this excerpt from Listen O daughters turn turn shows:

“You don’t need your daddy to string you up in a barn to beat the sin out of you because the sin swirls like a spring tornado from the moment you gasp into this world…”

It’s true, this list is by no means comprehensive. One person’s underrated is another’s overrated, because we all have our own opinions. Who would you like to see added to the list?

Famous Phrases By Shakespeare

In The United States, we have a love-hate relationship with Shakespeare. While many of us dreaded reading his plays in high school due to the sophistication of the language, theatre lovers consider it a privilege to present his works. But without Shakespeare, the English language would not be where it is today because not only did he invent words that we use today, he invented common phrases that are used all the time. Here are some famous phrases that have been attributed to Shakespeare. This is not the same thing as famous quotes such as “star-crossed lovers” or “to be or not to be” or “shall I compare thee to a summer’s day” – these are phrases that we use in our everyday vernacular that were first introduced to us by Shakespeare.

Bated Breath – Merchant of Venice

This phrase refers to breathing that is subdued because of some emotion and/or difficulty. Shakespeare used “bated” as an abbreviation for the word “abated” which means to bring down or lower. In 1933, the phrase was featured  in the poem Clever Cruel Cat but was misspelled as “baited.”

Fancy-Free – Midsummer Nights Dream

This phrase describes the feeling of being without any ties or commitment. The word fancy in Tudor England meant “amorous inclination” or in today’s vernacular enormous enthusiasm.

Forever And A Day – The Taming Of The Shrew

This term means exactly as it sounds and cannot actually exist. Forever is ever and therefore you cannot add days to it. Shakespeare used this as a dramatic emphasis.

Good Riddance – Troilus and Cressida

This expression refers to the pleasure of getting rid of something, usually a person. The term “riddance” was first used in a poem Away Mourning in 1525 and simply met getting rid of. Shakespeare coined “good riddance” to describe the positivity that can come from getting rid of something.

In A Pickle – The Tempest 

In a pickle simply refers to being in a difficult situation. The word “pickle” refers to being disoriented or mixed up as the stewed vegetables that were used in original pickles (spicy sauces used to accompany meat). Similar to the phrase “in a jam” where instead of vegetables, it is the fruits that are mixed up and disoriented.

Wild Goose Chase – Romeo and Juliet 

This phrase refers to searching for something but never finding it or pursuing something that is futile. A “wild goose chase” however is not running after a wild goose and chasing it. It refers to a terminology in horse racing where the lead horse is at a set distance which mimics wild geese flying in formation.

For more clever phrases written by Shakespeare, please feel free to visit their website.

 

 

THE SYLVIA PLATH EFFECT ON POETRY

It is generally admitted that poetry is one of the great art forms in the world, as it is painting with words. And some of the best word painters have been men – but only because their careers are longer and thus their portfolios thicker.

Turns out, this is not a sexism thing nor is it something having to do with the “patriarchy.” There is apparently a mental pathology that seems to dictate that female poets – for all their equal brilliance with the written word – will generally have a shorter career in poetry, and life as a whole.

Sylvia Plath was one of the great young female poets of her time but had her life cut short by depression, as she committed suicide in 1963 at the age of 30 by putting her head inside an oven and dying of carbon monoxide poisoning while her children slept in nearby bedrooms.

A number of studies look at writers and poets of both genders, and even prominent women in various career fields, to determine if there was something to the curious case of a number of female poets who died or were committed to mental institutions for various disorders. The research in the several studies all came to pretty profound conclusions – female poets or creative writers actually had a higher likelihood of mental illness than male counterparts or even women in other career fields. And frankly, it wasn’t even close, which was all the more remarkable.

In 2001, a psychologist by the name of James Kaufman developed the phrase “Sylvia Plath effect” to describe this phenomenon of female creative writers falling victim to mental illness at a higher rate than other women and male creative writers.  There has been some pathological research that seems to locate some indicators of those who have higher risks of mental illness, but so far there is no real determination as to whether the mental illness creates the poets, or whether being a woman and what happens to bring about the mental illness. The “chicken or egg” dilemma is still being discovered and researched.

It is unfortunate that the Sylvia Plath effect is not based on a phenomenon of great female poets coming out of the classes from which Sylvia Plath is taught – but instead, it describes the odd phenomenon of the high mortality rates of female creative writers (which an exception being the long and storied career of modern poet Maya Angelou). If your daughter has aspirations of becoming a poet or creative writer, it might be a good idea to take her in for a psychological evaluation, just to make sure she’s not susceptible to the Sylvia Plath effect.

Analysis of Whitman’s Famous Poetry

O Captain! my Captain! These famous words have been uttered countless times around the globe, becoming nearly commonplace. However, many do not know their origin — Walt Whitman’s beautiful poem published in his book, Leaves of Grass:

O Captain! my Captain! our fearful trip is done,
The ship has weather’d every rack, the prize we sought is won,
The port is near, the bells I hear, the people all exulting,
While follow eyes the steady keel, the vessel grim and daring;
                         But O heart! heart! heart!
                            O the bleeding drops of red,
                               Where on the deck my Captain lies,
                                  Fallen cold and dead.
O Captain! my Captain! rise up and hear the bells;
Rise up—for you the flag is flung—for you the bugle trills,
For you bouquets and ribbon’d wreaths—for you the shores a-crowding,
For you they call, the swaying mass, their eager faces turning;
                         Here Captain! dear father!
                            This arm beneath your head!
                               It is some dream that on the deck,
                                 You’ve fallen cold and dead.
My Captain does not answer, his lips are pale and still,
My father does not feel my arm, he has no pulse nor will,
The ship is anchor’d safe and sound, its voyage closed and done,
From fearful trip the victor ship comes in with object won;
                         Exult O shores, and ring O bells!
                            But I with mournful tread,
                               Walk the deck my Captain lies,
                                  Fallen cold and dead.

As well written as this poem may be, it can only be truly appreciated after understanding its meaning. The poem itself is an elegy, or a somber poem reflecting and lamenting on the dead. In this case, it is an elegy to a Captain who recently passed away. Further, it is celebrating the safe return of their ship to its home port. Whitman starts off by describing the hardships at sea, but contrasts this with the cheers of the people on the mainland — celebrating their return. Unfortunately, he then goes on to reveal that the captain lies on the deck, “fallen cold and dead.” In the following stanza, Whitman begs the captain to rise again and witness this splendid scene of joy, joy induced by their successful return. Further, he states that the captain is loved by the masses: “For you they call, the swaying mass, their eager faces turning.” Yet, this matters not, as the captain remains dead, albeit it all just feels like “some dream.”

In addition to the aforementioned analysis, many feel that Whitman intended this poem to have a much larger meaning. The poem was written shortly after President Abraham Lincoln’s untimely death, as he was assassinated in a theater by John Wilkes Booth. Thus, it is believed that the captain is a metaphor for Lincoln, who was adored by many. The ship then represents the war-plagued nation, finally freed from the woes of the Civil War. Knowing this, the poem takes on an entirely new, righteous significance. As with many other poets, Whitman’s poetry is best appreciated after an in-depth look.

Who Is R.M. Broderick?

If you’re a fan of poetry, you may have heard the name R.M. Broderick at one point or another. You may have a few questions about this poet. Who is he? Why is his poetry significant? Here are a few things you should know about R.M. Broderick.

Broderick Is A Modern Poet

When people hear about Broderick, they often assume that he’s a poet of the past. However, Broderick is actually a modern poet. He’s alive today and is still producing poetry.

A lot of people prefer modern poetry to the poetry of the past. They like the simpler, more direct lines that appear in newer poems. If this is true of you, you’ll definitely enjoy reading Broderick’s poetry.

It’s okay if you’re not a fan of older poetry. There are newer poets like Broderick producing new styles of poetry. His poems might be right in line with your tastes.

Many Of His Poems Are About Love

A lot of Broderick’s poems are focused on the subject of love. If you enjoy poetry that’s romantic in nature, you’ll definitely enjoy reading some of these poems.

Poems that are about love and romance tend to withstand the test of time. Love is an emotion that people are always going to experience. If you like poems about love, you should check out some of Broderick’s poems.

If romantic poems aren’t really your thing, Broderick’s poems are still something you’ll want to take a look at. Even though he writes about love, he writes about other subjects as well.

He Writes Poetry That People Can Relate To

Broderick’s poems aren’t obscure and difficult to relate to. He writes about subjects that anyone can relate to. If you’re put off by a lot of the poetry that you read, you may find that Broderick’s poetry appeals to you.

At the end of the day, the best poetry is all about the human experience. Whether poems are about love or other subjects, you’ll appreciate poems that relate to various aspects of life. You may find that the poems of R.M. Broderick will provide you with inspiration when you need it the most. Broderick’s Instagram comments are filled with testimonials from readers he has helped get through tough times.

If you’re interested in R.M Broderick, you’ll want to take the time to learn more about his poetry. You may want to follow him on Instagram or read his book, Tales of a Time Traveler. See if his poetry resonates with you.

The Great Mind Behind Wonderful Writings: Who Is Robert M. Drake?

You have probably heard about many great writers who have caught the interest of many people across the world in a hit and run accident. Their unique and creative ways of expressing thoughts in words paved the way for them to be recognized and appreciated by other people. One of the popular names in this field is Robert M. Drake. He has been successful at sharing his thoughts about life and other aspects of life.

Robert M. Drake On Instagram

How did Robert Drake use social media to be one of the best-sellers on Amazon? His story has inspired many people especially those who aspire to become a great writer. He has focused on using Instagram to introduce his works and be a source of strength and motivation to many. R. M. Drake’s work can be seen in the Instagram feeds of many popular celebrities such as Ludacris and the Kardashians.

What makes his works more interesting is that these are set in typewriter font and handmade gray paper. His literary works ruminate death, loneliness, and love. In fact, he has more than one million Instagram followers, about 20, 000 likes on his Facebook account, and 16, 000 Twitter followers.

Robert M. Drake, or Robert Macias, is a self-published writer. Each time he posts his new work, he garners numerous comments and likes. However, the exception of an understated signature which is “r.m. drake” at the bottom. There is a little context given to what these words refer to, where it is originated from and other details about him.

Recently, his book entitled ‘Beautiful Chaos’ is one of the best-selling books in the poetry category of Amazon. His works are the 7th best books in the company Sylvia Plath and Edgar Allan Poe. R. M. Drake sets apart from other famous writers because he did not gain popularity because of a publishing deal but through likes and comments on Instagram.

Drake has started writing at the primary level of his studies. He also worked for a TV company as an art director in Miami. He has gained exposure when he posted excerpts of his unique writings to social media. From then on, he has taken the path of being a self-published writer through various booksellers such as Amazon and Barnes & Noble. With about 4,000 sales per month, his contribution deal helped him leave his job and just focus on his lifelong dream of becoming a full-time commercial writer.

John Keats: A Brief Life

Born on October 31, 1795 in London, John Keats would later go on to become one of the more renowned lyrical poets of his time, joining contemporaries such as Percy Shelley and William Wordsworth in the annals of poetic history – a great accomplishment in and of itself, if not punctuated more so by the short life he lived, passing at the age of 25 years due to tuberculosis. In that time, Keats had published three volumes of poetry and completed works such as “O Solitude” and “On First Looking into Chapman’s Homer” as well as the epic explorations of Greek mythology, “Endymion” and the posthumously published “Fall of Hyperion.”

The oldest of four children, Keats’ appetite for literature and poetry sprouted at an early age while he was receiving education at Enfield Academy, later to be taken under apprenticeship as an apothecary-surgeon at the age of 15 and studied in a London hospital. Six years later, at the age of 21, Keats was a licensed apothecary, though he never practiced medicine for the rest of his life. His true passion had remained in poetry and its evocative nature.

However, despite how history has held him on a pedestal for his brilliance as a lyrical poet, many within the community of his contemporaries often criticized Keats for his work, labeling him as a “vulgar Cockney poetaster” and degrading his work due to his liberal education compared to their more conservative world views at the time. And while history may sometimes assume that Keats was quite affected by this criticism, the prolificacy that he displayed in the final years of his life might suggest otherwise, particularly in his undertaking of the 4000-line epic, “Endymion.”

While Keats had explored the arenas of politics and social reform in much of his literary work, he is well-remembered for his utility of imagery, of lyric (his Shakespearean sonnets have received notable praise) and especially of his grasp of the human condition – particularly when dealing with terminal beauty as well as suffering and loss, much of which he had braved in his life.

Much of the unknown often explores Keats’ life as one of great hardship, losing his father to horse riding accident at a young age and his mother effectively driving herself from her children’s lives after mishandling family finances. His grandmother eventually turned over matters of the estate to a man named Richard Abbey, who history remembers as miserly and deceitful regarding the family wealth. In fact, it is estimated that, by the time of Keats’ death, Abbey had withheld approximately £2000 from him in a day when even £100 yearly afforded a rather comfortable lifestyle.

Known well for his matters of the heart and the human condition as it relates to suffering, it seems that Keats was fated to experience much of that directly as it related to his family life (the death or loss of his parents and a failed romance with one Fanny Brawne), his finances courtesy of Mr. Abbey, and the backlash of criticism he suffered for his work at the whims of socially disparate counterparts. Yet, despite all that and the misfortune of a short life, Keats was seemingly able to use these experiences to enhance his work and bring to life the evocative nature of poetry that he had spent nearly his entire life daring to explore. Having passed on February 23, 1821 after a trip to Italy, Keats was buried in the Protestant Cemetery in Rome.

Celebrating Black Poetry During Black History Month

Although we’ve already talked about Maya Angelou before, there are several other inspirational and great African-American poets that should be celebrated not only during Black History Month but at any time because there poetry is amazing regardless. But what I love about black poetry is that you can feel the essence and soul that these writers put into their work as they reflect upon the African-American experience. We can feel their pain, their sorrow, their joy and whatever emotion they are willing to share in their piece.

Gwendolyn Brooks became the first African American ever to win a Pulitzer Prize. She won the Pulitzer Prize for her second collection of poems entitled Annie Allen.  She was also the first black woman to be appointed Poet Laureate of the United States. Her most famous piece, is “We Real Cool” found below:

We real cool. We
Left school. We

Lurk late. We
Strike straight. We

Sing sin. We
Thin gin. We

Jazz June. We
Die soon.

The Harlem Renaissance is one of the most celebrated times in Black Culture. Jazz musicians like Luis Armstrong and Duke Ellington paved the way for African American musicians, while writers like Langston Hughes broke new ground for African American writers. His most famous poem entitled Harlem (see below) was an inspiration for other black writers. For example, African American playwright  Lorraine Hansberry titled her play A Raisin In The Sun about a black family in Chicago during the time of segregation.

What happens to a dream deferred?

Does it dry up
like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore—
And then run?

Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over—
like a syrupy sweet?

Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.

Or does it explode?

Audre Lorde describes her self as “black, lesbian, mother, warrior, poet.” During the Civil Rights movement, her poetry reflected the turbulent times. The Brown Menace (below) especially rings true as police brutality, white supremacy and other issues still persist til this day.

Call me

your deepest urge

toward survival

call me

and my brothers and sisters

in the sharp smell of your refusal

call me

roach and presumptuous

nightmare on your white pillow

your itch to destroy

the indestructible

part of yourself.

Call me your own determination

in the most detestable shape

you can become

friend of your image

within me

I am you

in your most deeply cherished nightmare

scuttling through the painted cracks

you create to admit me

into your kitchens

into your fearful midnights

into your values at noon

in your most secret places

with hate

you learn to honor me

by imitation

as I alter–

although your greedy preoccupations

through your kitchen wars

and your poisonous refusal–

to survive.

To survive.

Survive.

Dylan Thomas – A Brief Biography

Dylan Marlais Thomas was born October 27, 1914 in Swansea, South Wales. And it seemed, from the outset of his life, he was destined for the field of literature. His father, an English literature professor, was known to recite Shakespeare to him as a young boy. This relatively simple act seemed to trigger what would soon become a great love for literature and – specifically – poetry. Thomas became particularly fond of the works of D.H. Lawrence, indulging himself in all of the English novelist’s poetry, and he went on to excel in English while neglecting all of his other studies. It wasn’t very long afterward at the age of 16 that Thomas would leave school altogether to pursue an early career in writing as a junior reporter for the South Wales Daily Post. And it wasn’t much longer after that, Thomas had lost his love of journalism and left his job to dedicate himself fully to his poetry, at the age of 18 years old.

It was within the period of his late teenage years that Thomas seemed to be the most prolific. Roughly half of his accomplished works are accounted between leaving school at 16 and moving to London around the age of 20, shortly after publishing “And Death Shall Have No Dominion” in 1933, which was featured in the New English Weekly. It was this first international publication that would spark interest in him, calling him to the attention of several editors of English literary magazines before moving to London shortly thereafter. His first collection of work would later be featured standalone in December of 1934 as “18 Poems.” Several other collections would soon follow, including “Twenty Five Poems” in 1936 and “The Map of Love” in 1939. Thomas’ work and perspective were also unique in that he generally broke away from contemporary tendencies to write about social or intellectual issues such as T.S. Eliot and W.H. Auden, preferring to concentrate his efforts more toward lyrical works and reflecting a mood akin to works of the Romantic period.

Unfortunately, as much as Thomas succeeded in the literary world, the other pieces of his life couldn’t seem to fall into place. During the height of his success as a writer, he wed a dancer named Caitlin Macnamara, and they went on to have three children. However, much speculation would later come about the fidelity of their marriage, even suspicions that both he and Macnamara may have been involved in affairs apart from each other. Thomas also struggled financially at a time where he succumbed greatly to alcohol abuse. He took work for the BBC during World War II as a film scriptwriter, in which he contributed to over a hundred radio broadcasts, one of which would later inspire his radio play “Under Milk Wood,” written in 1953. Thomas even supplemented this income with reading tours – reading tours that were more often characterized as “flamboyant performances – which would eventually see him on his way to the likes of Italy, where he would be inspired to write his most famous poem, “Do no go gentle into that good night,” as well as the United States, where he would tour four times in his life. It was unfortunately there, in New York City, on his last tour that Thomas would meet an unfortunate and untimely demise. Having collapsed at the Chelsea Hotel, Thomas passed away only a few days later at St. Vincent’s Hospital on November 9, 1953. It was discovered Thomas had died of pneumonia, swelling of the brain, and a fatty liver.

Despite the issues surrounding many aspects of his life, Dylan Thomas was most remembered for his contribution to the literary world, both for his work and for the performances of his works, reviving with vigor such traditions as lyricism and reinventing the Romantic poet during his time in America, where he was renowned for being “flamboyantly theatrical” and reading his poetry “with tremendous depth of feeling and a singing Welsh lilt.”