Atwood, Margaret: An Iconic Woman Poet

I first came across Margaret Atwood in college. We studied a few of her poems. Her simplicity seemed too simple, and I thought if she can get published, so can I. I also read a novel by her, which I didn’t like at all – I forget the name. Not The Handmaid’s Tale.

I loved The Penelopiad though. I liked how she gave a voice to Penelope, whom we otherwise don’t hear about. I was overjoyed to find her on Twitter – probably the only writer in my English literature syllabus to be there!

I’ve been diving into Greek mythology recently and came across her delightful ‘Siren Song.’ Its subtle humour just blew me away.

This is the one song everyone
would like to learn: the song
that is irresistible:

the song that forces men
to leap overboard in squadrons
even though they see the beached skulls

the song nobody knows
because anyone who has heard it
is dead, and the others can’t remember.

Shall I tell you the secret
and if I do, will you get me
out of this bird suit?

I don’y enjoy it here
squatting on this island
looking picturesque and mythical

with these two faethery maniacs,
I don’t enjoy singing
this trio, fatal and valuable.

I will tell the secret to you,
to you, only to you.
Come closer. This song

is a cry for help: Help me!
Only you, only you can,
you are unique

at last. Alas
it is a boring song
but it works every time.

I like this Atwood tip on creating a timeline for your character vis-à-vis world events that happened during her lifetime. That’s natural grist for your writing mill. I struggle to write long form content, so this would be helpful.

I also like her other tips on writing, that you need to ‘hold my attention.’ And that you need to keep writing. I have to edit my novel again. I feel I’ve evolved as a poet, and perhaps that will help me edit my novel better.

Here’s more Atwood on writing.

This post is a part of #BlogchatterA2Z 2023

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5 Responses

  1. Erin Penn says:

    Thank you for letting us know about this poet and writer.

  2. Marietta Pereira says:

    Nice piece. Glad to be introduced to Margaret Atwood.

  3. Suchita Agarwal says:

    I recently read a short story by her: My Evil Mother. It was an excellent read.

  4. What a delightful poem 🙂

    Ronel visiting for A:
    My Languishing TBR: A
    Accomplished Athena

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