persephone’s affliction

“Persephone” by Patricia Ariel

“The soul sees by means of affliction … the wound and the eye are one and the same.” ~ James Hillman

I’ve been working on a collection of poetry titled “Persephone’s Affliction.” I am so happy to say that I have finished the collection!!! I worked tremendously hard putting it all together, and I am so in love with this collection ~

Tonight, after reading through the finished manuscript again, I just held it against my chest and cried.

It’s difficult to express the feeling I have upon finishing and sending the manuscript out into the world. It’s different from the experience of submitting a single poem or a story. In many senses, this collection is a movement across my life. I just can’t express right now what that means to me. I’ve been writing poems since I was a child. I’ve been writing seriously for nearly twenty years.

I finished the final draft of “Persephone’s Affliction” several months ago, and then I set it aside. Since then, I focused more on my story writing, and have been writing and submitting dark fiction and erotica stories for publication. My plan was to look towards publishing the manuscript in the Spring. This past week, I dug up the manuscript and completely revamped and reorganized it. What was once a draft of poems together truly became a collection of work. I fell into it, and worked on it fervently until I felt that it was complete.

The day before I finished the manuscript, I discovered that Adrienne Rich had died. For those of you who may not know of her, Adrienne Rich was a brilliant thinker, writer, and activist. She was also the first poet I fell in love with, and has influenced my writing and my life in a myriad of ways.

When I was in high school, I used to read my English Textbook on the school bus. I had come across Adrienne Rich’s poem, “Aunt Jennifer’s Tigers” and was just blown away. I was about 14 at the time and just devouring literature, open to everything, wanting to learn everything I possibly could.

I remember going to Barnes & Noble and seeing a book by Adrienne Rich in the “bargain book” area. It was her “Collected Early Poems.” I practically begged my father to buy it for me, and I have treasured that book for almost 25 years. Over the years, I have read numerous other books by Adrienne Rich – Diving into the Wreck is another one of my overall favorite poetry books. Besides being a prolific poet, she also wrote many profound and interesting essays.

Finding out about her death made me feel a true sense of loss. Even though I never met Adrienne Rich, I felt so close to her work, I couldn’t help but feel sad at her passing. But then I started to think … I am so grateful that she lived! I am so grateful that she existed in this world, and wrote such provocative work. Her life-work is an incredible inspiration; she had an extraordinary journey in this world.

I was left with a bittersweet gift, a reminder of the impact that poetry had on me in such a fundamental, visceral way. Reading her “Collected Early Poems” opened poetry to me – and was the first time I felt that poetry had a real and contemporary relevance in the world. It was the first glimpse I had that maybe I, too, might someday be able to be a poet, a writer. That maybe I, too, would be able to publish my work.

The next day, I finished the manuscript and began submitting “Persephone’s Affliction” for publication. It’s been a highly emotional past few days! I feel overwhelming gratitude again towards Adrienne Rich, for sharing her love of language and of life, for helping me come full circle, and for reminding me:

“The moment of change is the only poem.” ~ Adrienne Rich



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