Wednesday, 28 May 2008

Poem of the Week: A Paper Bag - Atwood

I always both loved and struggled with poetry. Very rarely could I read an poem and just get it, which frustrated me considerably, but I loved reading or being taught about poems, its like being given a key to a maze, once the door is open I can go and discover many different things that I couldn't see at first glance.

I've been reading a lot of poetry with the older pupils at school, lots of Simon Armitage and Carol Ann Duffy as well as a selection of poetry from all different cultures. What this has made me realsie is how little poetry I have read since leaving university, so I'm planning to start trying to read a selection of poetry each week and I aim to put my favorite on here so hopefully others can enjoy and maybe comment.

So this week I've been looking at Margaret Atwoods' poems and this one instantly caught my attention.

The Paper Bag.

I make my head, as I used to,

out of a paper bag,

pull it down to the collarbone,

draw eyes around my eyes

with purple and green

spikes to show surprise,

a thumb-shaped nose,

a mouth around my mouth,

penciled by touch, then coloured in

flat red.

With this new head, the body now

stretched like a stocking and exhausted could

dance again; if I made a

tongue I could sing.

An old sheet and it's Halloween ;

but why is it worse or more

frightening, this pinface

head of square hair and no chin?

Like an idiot, it has no past

and is always entering the future

through its slots of eyes, purblind

and groping with its thick smile,

a tentacle of perpetual joy.

Paper head, I prefer you

because of your emptiness;

from within you any

word could still be said.

With you I could have

more than one skin,

a blank interior, a repertoire

of untold stories,

a fresh beginning.

Margaret Atwood.

This poem grabbed me as I immediately had an image of a child, feeling unloved, unwanted, perhaps bulllied just desiring to be someone else. To wipe out who they where and be given a fresh chance or a new start.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Has anyone considered that this poem might be about sexual abuse?