Shakespeare’s Sister Revisited: A Circle of Female Lineage by Mary Sharratt

Inspiring and well written by Mary Sharrat

Vanessa Bell’s painting of her sister, Virginia Woolf

What do groundbreaking 17th century poet, Aemilia Bassano Lanier, and 20th century feminist icon, Virginia Woolf, have in common? A lot actually.

In her 1929 essay, “A Room of One’s Own,” Woolf imagines the tragedy of Shakespeare’s brilliant sister, Judith, barred from the grammar school because of her sex and forced to hide her writing from her family. To escape a forced marriage to a man she hates, she runs away to London to seek her fortune in the theatre, only to end up pregnant, abandoned, and destitute. Out of despair, she kills herself.

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The cruelest month by Donna Snyder

The cruelest month
In memory of Jesús Guzmán
April winds rage in with a renegade posse of dust,
weather’s bad boys intent on stealing a body’s air.
And one cruel April, Jesús was killed on Easter Monday.
Day after resurrection Sunday, he fell from Jacob’s Ladder.
It was the sudden stop that killed him.
Undoubtedly ¡Ay cabrón! frozen on his lips when he hit the ground,
a tiny blood red rose quivering alone in the wind-blasted dirt.
Jesús killed, an angel fallen from the heavens.
Declared dead on the scene, mad scientists shocked him
until his heart resumed its beat, like all fallen angels
determined to return to lost paradise.
Declared dead at the scene on Easter Monday.
Declared dead in ICU on Tuesday afternoon.
Then on the third day they took away his tubes and wires,
and his heart beat for another hour.

He fought Miss Death until they declared him dead
all over again.
No resurrection,
except in the memories of children he taught to be poets,
or the minds of workers who crossed the borders
from there to here.
He crossed over from this life to the next one,
neither from here nor from over there.
And the mesas crashed onto the freeway like waves.
The spring night bled teardrops like falling stars
because he’s still cheated of air.
Cheated of words.
Cheated of life.
The world cheated of him and his corazón, too soon.
Jesús was killed on Easter Monday and Tuesday and Wednesday.
His heart tan fuerte it took three times to kill him.

His death scene punctuated by the street’s beat
and the lullabies of the bereft.
Now the world is so cold and lonely in April,
when the winds carry the spirits of dead vatos to remind us
just how cruel a month can really be.

Published in Poemas ante el Catafalco: Grief and Renewal (Chimbarazu Press, New York 2014)

Somebody killed my muse (dusk)

 

Somebody killed my muse (dusk) published in Boston Poetry Magazine

by Donna J. Snyder


He strangled her during a hot night of vice,
her mouth stuffed full of harsh memories. Dropped
debris on her belly and fled for hell, her heat and weight
left to disappear into the growing silence.
He found her scribbling in a smoky room with no pillow,
sang a song to Saturn and turned off the light.
Left her moaning in the dusk, brute fact
shoved into her like a broom.
Threw her songbook in the alley.
Broke her pen in three pieces.
Stripped her of the rush of blood and heat
that gives birth to memory.
Hung her by the neck of silence, her body
swinging slowly in the spiritless wind.
Fled into a silent future, bereft of dance and song.

There’s a warrant out for a wordless soul.
Nothing left to give much comfort to a sorrowful world.
Somebody killed my muse.

Source: Somebody killed my muse (dusk)