Poetry of Erica Jong

This week, I went to Kemp, Oklahoma to visit my parents for Thanksgiving. This is the area of the Red River Valley where I set my novel, Red River Fever, a quaint area filled with rednecks, farms, ranches, brain-fevered folks, and a multitude of stories waiting to be written. When I travel, I always take something to read and the means to write–my writing notebooks, my iBook, and sometimes my manual typewriter. This trip, I mostly read.

I finished Erica Jong’s book of poetry entitled, Becoming Light. I love reading poetry generally, but I especially enjoy poets who teach me as they move me in their poems. I love the richness of Jong’s allusions, and though some points, especially the autobiographical ones, are rather cryptic, I find the margins of the book are full of my minute notes concerning definitions or connotations of words, historical notes, notes to myself to look up a topic or image, or questions that came to my mind when I read the poems.

Jong’s poems are intense, personal, exploratory, and sometimes jarring. Many of her phrases are absolutely brilliant and memorable. I’ve decided to memorize a couple of her poems that seemed to especially speak to me. One is “There is Only One Story.”

There Is Only One Story

There is only one story:
he loved her,
then stopped loving her,
while she did not
stop loving him.
There is only one story:
she loved him,
then stopped loving him,
while he did not
stop loving her.
The truth is simple:
you do not die
from love.
You only wish
you did.

You can read more about Jong, her ficiton, nonfiction, and her poetry here: http://www.ericajong.com/

Gwenllian: The Last Princess of Wales

Today, I spoke at the Northeast Louisiana Scottish Scociety meeing in W. Monroe, Louisiana. I’m a member though I am Welsh and not Scottish. My topic was the sad story of Gwenllian, daughter of Llywelyn the Last. She was the last descendent of Llywelyn the Last. Her mother Eleanor died giving her birth. After her father Llywelyn died near Irfon Bridge, December 11, 1282, Edward Longshanks was determined that all of Llywelyn’s descendents would disappear. Her girl cousins were never heard from again. The boy cousins were imprisoned. Gwenllian was taken from her cradle (she was seventeen months old) and taken to a Gilbertine priory at Sempringham in Lincolnshire. She remained there for 54 years. She died June 7, 1337, never really having known her family, her heritage, or her native tongue. Plaid Cymru (Welsh Independence Movement) and other Welsh have made her a symbol. Efforts are underway to locate her body and return it to Wales, and many want a mountain in Snowdonia to be named after her.  A plaque near the location of the monastery where she lived out her life is now a shrine, visited by thousands every year. You can learn more about Gwenllian here: