The Furious Gazelle

Literary as hell.

Tag: sylvia plath

Book Review: “Mary Ventura and the Ninth Kingdom” by Sylvia Plath

Review by Tess Tabak

Mary Ventura Ninth Kingdom PB c (1)A newly discovered short story by Sylvia Plath is cause for celebration. “Mary Ventura and the Ninth Kingdom” follows a young girl as she discovers her train is bound for a mysterious destination. The train ride starts as a seemingly normal but dreary metaphor for 1950s life – everyone onboard is crisp and proper, not talking to each other, and Mary feels isolated despite being surrounded by people. Though the cause for the train ride is never revealed, we can guess that she’s heading off to college.

However, as the piece goes on, it’s clear there’s something more sinister at play. We learn that the “Ninth Kingdom” will be the final stop, and once the train reaches its destination there will be no returning.

The piece is raw compared to the work Plath would go on to write (such as her classic, The Bell Jar), but a crude Plath story is still riveting. I read this piece in one sitting. “Mary Ventura” will be of special interest to Plath’s fans. You can see the source of her later writings in it – a girl watching in grim awareness as everyone else is numb to the world, offered a ray of hope at the end. She describes the world in lush detail, yet still manages to convey a sense of dread. “Mrs. Ventura touched a handkerchief to her painted red mouth, started to say something, stopped. There was, after all, nothing left to say.” Continue reading

2017 February Contest Finalist: “Instead of a Valentine” by Pamela Sinicrope

If a couple gets married

and one commits suicide on February 11th,

is it anyone’s fault?

Feminists can blame all they want.

Husbands can lament and take lashes

while they rewrite poetry.

 

Like a blinking eye that opens then closes-

what is-is.  Unless it isn’t.

Depression was a black lung hung off

a rat’s tail on the tree by her window or-

asbestos pilled on plumbing pipes-unwrapped

and falling like snow-long before they said, ‘I DO.’

Long before, Sylvia swallowed 48 pills, slept

beneath her house, woke to try again.

 

Marriage is hard, poets complex,

Poetry is hard, marriage complex.

Like pulled threads in a sweater, they unraveled.

Depression created a triangle.  

Factor in children and the figure converted

to a love pentagon-where two people wanted winged

poems sailing space and three sides were left hanging.

Pentagon then add a lover? That’s a hexagon.

The shape shifted, lost all sides, became thread-a heart,

became a pneumatic noose around a head roast.

 

Sylvia gasped air and faltered, fell asleep.  

She wrote every day in the dark before a baby

banged pots on the floor, uttered, ‘ma-ma,’

while Ted left to write, wrangle crows.

Rejection lassoes perfection.

 

How romantic-two poets in the same house-

unparalleled love letters, mirrored muses:

in truth, for them, it was murder-

no, it was a contest-

no, it was academia-

publish, perish, publish, Pulitzer-no

 

noose was wide enough to capture

the universe of words that broke them-

no-broke her.

Instead of a valentine,

the noose became a knot.

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