Consummate poet and writer Molly Peacock returns with her latest collection, The Analyst (Biblioasis), a chronicling of her long-term therapist’s recovery from a stroke through painting. Through the recovery, Molly went from patient to helper, witnessing the transformative power of not only art, but human relationships, too.
This year we feel everyone could see a little more solidarity and community, so we’re getting poetically political with Poets Resist, a series dedicated to poetry as a form of resistance. Every day on the blog we will feature a poet whose work explores one of these topics: colonialism and violence, homophobia and transphobia, environmental destruction, and/or the !@#$% patriarchy.Consummate poet and writer Molly Peacock returns with her latest collection, The Analyst (Biblioasis), a chronicling of her long-term therapist’s recovery from a stroke through painting. Through the recovery, Molly went from patient to helper, witnessing the transformative power of not only art, but human relationships, too.
ALU: What are some books that inspired or informed The Analyst?MP: A number of wonderful recent Canadian collections of linked poems inspired me, especially Sue Goyette’s book Ocean. A nonfiction book that helped me understand my therapist’s brain hemorrhage was My Stroke of Insight: A Brain Scientist’s Personal Journey by Jill Bolte Taylor. Lastly, the ghost of a twentieth century classic, A Tribute to Freud by H.D, hovered over me.ALU: If you were protesting the patriarchy, what would your protest sign read? MP: EAT MY DUST.ALU: Why did you write this collection? MP: I had to. The poems came pouring out of me. After my long-term analyst suffered a stroke but survived the brain hemorrhage to become a painter (the very art she had, decades before, abandoned for training in talk therapy), I was helplessly compelled to write the story of our amazing, unusual, un-categorizable relationship. I tried to use radiant images in this book-length series of poems. The images describe the state of ambiguous loss (where a loved and respected person is still alive, but no longer the same), and they also celebrate the restorative process of painting. I hope they tell the story of a decades-long relationship that now reverses, because the person who was helped (me, the patient) strangely became the helper. I also wanted to get at the interior, funny, frightening, rich dynamic of our therapy over the course of 38 years. It went on in about four different phases in different locations and on the phone. And I wanted to use all kinds of poetic forms (from traditional double sonnets to brand-new screen-derived structures) because the therapy, then the analysis, took many different forms. I am overwhelmingly grateful for the health and confidence this woman gave me. So I wanted to the book to be optimistic, because it reflects the rather devastating privilege I have of watching her now, without many of the resources of language, cope with recreating her life as a painter. It’s art itself that restores. ALU: What does poetry as resistance mean to you? MP: My poetry of resistance means embracing complexity, never oversimplifying situations or people. My poetry of resistance embraces the poetry of emotion, the poetry of big feelings that can be scary and overwhelming but convey intense passion. My poetry of resistance takes psychological risks. And it is female. It resists disguise, and the protection of flattened language. It loves vocabulary, but not curlicues. I think all poetry is written from an initial interior impulse, but what I resist is the inclination to cover that impulse in a cool, ironic, or divorced-from-feeling way. After all, there are only two subjects of a lyric poem: love and death. Do I want to read a poem that isn’t emotionally connected? Nope. I resist that. * * *
Molly Peacock is a poet, biographer, essayist, and short fiction writer whose multi-genre literary life has taken her from New York City to Toronto, from poetry to prose, from words to words-and-pictures, and from lyric self-examination to curiosity about the lives of others. Her newest book is The Analyst: poems. The Analyst tells the story of a decades-long patient-therapist relationship that reverses after the analyst’s stroke and continues to evolve. She is also the author of the best-selling biography The Paper Garden: Mrs. Delany Begins Her Life’s Work at 72. Beginning her literary life as a poet, she has published six books of poetry, including The Second Blush and Cornucopia: New and Selected Poems.* * *Buy The Analyst or any of our other featured poetry month collections and get a Poets Resist pack of a patch and buttons to wear to your next protest. And if you need some more resistance poetry inspiration, check out our poetry bot!Keep up with us all month on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook with the hashtag #poetsresist.