Welcome to the fifth round of #LitLove, a bimonthly series here on the blog!

So what is #LitLove?

It's a collaborative post series that happens every two months. It debuted in December 2014, featuring myself and four other lovely writer/bloggers, dubbed ATTAC:

Alyssa / Topaz / Taylor / AnQi / Christina (that's me!)

Officially(ish) speaking:
#LitLove is our chance to spout our love for the written word in all its forms, and it happens once every two months. It was born from a feverish Twitter fangirling session (as so many good things are) and then put into action. We've got a veritable army of ideas cooking, and we plan to spotlight everything from authors to tropes in the future.
Previously, we've featured brilliant writers Kate DiCamilloRoald Dahl, William Shakespeare, and Edgar Allan Poe. Today we're taking the series in yet another direction by featuring one of America's most intriguing female writers, Sylvia Plath.

Haven't heard the name?

No worries! I'm here to fill the gap in your reading life labeled 'Sylvia Plath.' Here's an excerpt from her Poetry Foundation bio:
Sylvia Plath was one of the most dynamic and admired poets of the twentieth century. By the time she took her life at the age of thirty, Plath already had a following in the literary community. In the ensuing years her work attracted the attention of a multitude of readers, who saw in her singular verse an attempt to catalogue despair, violent emotion, and obsession with death. [...] Intensely autobiographical, Plath's poems explore her own mental anguish, her troubled marriage to fellow poet Ted Hughes, her unresolved conflicts with her parents, and her own vision of herself. [...] [Joyce Carol Oates] wrote that Plath's best-known poems, "many of them written during the final, turbulent weeks of her life, read as if they've been chiseled, with a fine surgical instrument, out of arctic ice."
I was first introduced to Sylvia Plath's work when I read her first and only novel, The Bell Jar, for a literature honors project at school during freshman year. (You might have read my rave review of that particular book.) When I learned that she was primarily a poet, I immediately set out to read some of her poetry. This new interest came at a particularly opportune time, since I was growing more and more interested in writing poetry myself. I think reading Sylvia Plath has really influenced the way I look at and approach poetry, and I know it will continue to do so in the future.

Today, I'll be discussing two of my favorite Plath poems. Ordinarily, I'd just pick one, but with Plath it's just too difficult! So here's "Lady Lazarus" and "Witch Burning" for you all.

(Note: I've been stretched a bit thin lately writing/commitment-wise, so this might not be my best analysis + discussion, but DO NOT BE FOOLED. Plath is pretty much my poetic sun and stars.)

About the poems

"lady lazarus"

"Lady Lazarus" is, I believe, one of Plath's best-known poems. It is at once a confessional and a persona poem, meaning that it draws on Plath's personal experiences / emotions and takes on the voice of a character at the same time. It reimagines the biblical Lazarus (who was brought back from the dead) as a woman in a more updated context. The poem is sourced from Plath's Collected Poems and was written from October 23–29, 1962. You can read it here.

"witch burning"

"Witch Burning" is somewhat lesser-known. It's also a confessional / persona poem; Plath's works tend to be confessional, as she was one of the pioneers of that type of poetry. The title explains a lot of it, really—it centers on the experience of a witch before being burned at the stake, although the poem's tone feels, to me, less mournful and more pure or empowered. The work from her posthumous collection Ariel (1966). You can read it here.

What these poems mean to me

I'm incapable of pinpointing exactly what it is that I love so much about Sylvia Plath's writing. Its unashamed honesty? Its fiercely vivid, unsettling descriptions? Its juxtaposition of dark, evocative imagery with lighter poetic forms? These are all certainly part of it. 

But what truly makes Plath's style so enthralling? I don't think it can quite be summed up in words by anyone, and I certainly couldn't do it justice. Instead, I'll talk about some of my favorite lines from each poem (although honestly, any Plath line is more or less a favorite for me). 

(These are just my own interpretations, and if you want to discuss further in the comments, please do! I'm always up for poetry talk.)

"lady lazarus"

I have done it again. / One year in every ten / I manage it——
While the biblical Lazarus is brought to life by Jesus, Lady Lazarus resurrects herself without any outside help ("I have done it again"). It's a power that she has used before and one that gives her a sort of authority over everyone around her. I personally can kind of feel that here, in these lines that feel at once weary and triumphant.
O my enemy. / Do I terrify?——
The boldly feminine yet undeniably threatening persona of "Lady Lazarus" has a certain deadly magnetism to her. She's secure in her ability to rise from the dead, which gives her a fearsome kind of confidence. But she's also very aware of the scrutiny she gets because of that ability. She regards those who scrutinize her as 'enemies,' and she wants to know: are you afraid of me?
Out of the ash / I rise with my red hair / And I eat men like air.
These last three lines make up one of the most iconic poem endings you'll ever read, period. It is, without a shadow of a doubt, my favorite part of this poem. The rhyme is incredibly powerful without being tacky in the least, and it's undoubtedly chilling. Also, GIRL POWER.

"witch burning"

I inhabit / The wax image of myself, a doll's body.
There's so much wonderful subtext here. This line pretty much speaks for itself—it has so many dimensions, and I really think it opens up new areas for interpretation every single time one reads it.
What large eyes the dead have!
This line in and of itself is wonderfully arresting in its simultaneous playfulness and morbidity. I love it. To me, it feels like a play off what the heroine tells the wolf disguised as her grandmother in the Red Riding Hood fairytale: "What large teeth you have!" That innocent fascination, combined with the darkness of bringing up the dead, is a beautifully clever contrast.
We grow. / It hurts at first. The red tongues will teach the truth.
"The red tongues" in this case is taken to mean fire, which I think implies a sort of healing and reaching upwards that the narrator achieves through a lot of sacrifice and hardship. I love this notion a lot, and I keep it very close to my heart.
I am lost, I am lost, in the robes of all this light.
I think this is a gorgeously cathartic ending for the poem, and it's one that really rings true to me. The narrator has had a hard time coming into her own throughout the piece, and so this kind of light-filled 'ascension' feels like a wonderful release for her.

That's all from me, but don't go just yet! There's more #LitLove to be had:

* Unfortunately, Taylor won't be participating in this round.

Do you love Sylvia Plath as much as I do? What about confessional poetry? Let's nerd out in the comments!

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Hello all! The gloriously witty and always-insightful Heather from Sometimes I'm a Story was kind enough to bestow upon yours truly the Infinity Dreams Award. Thank you so much, Heather! Here's my response:

  • Thank and follow the blog that nominated you.
  • Tell us eleven facts about yourself.
  • Answer the questions that were set for you to answer.
  • Nominate 11 bloggers and set questions for them.

Eleven facts

  • I love anime and people seem to forget that a lot. (Fairy Tail / Kuroko no Basket / Sword Art Online / Soul Eater fans? HIGH FIVE.)
  • I've eaten squid ink pasta. (It was really good!)
  • I've been writing about teenagers since third grade. Yay for inadvertent YA writing!
  • I'm basically incapable of writing fanfiction. Whenever I attempt to, it comes out as a puddle (so does most of my writing, but with my original work I can usually salvage something).
  • I'm probably that one suspicious girl in the corner wearing a hoodie. Especially if said girl has ink/pencil stains on the side of her left hand. (Hey, hoodies are comfortable.)
  • My favorite Studio Ghibli movie is Spirited Away, but honestly ALL their movies are my favorites on some level.
  • I just made a resume website thing in an attempt to be more "professional."
  • I am so into Halsey's music right now you don't even know.
  • I'm thinking of doing Communication or Media Studies in college, with possibly a Creative Writing minor.
  • I'm super pumped because I get to take Diversity & Justice and Graphic Design 2 at school for second semester this year.
  • Unfortunately, that also means I need to get both Health and PE out of the way in first semester—usually it's one per semester—which IS GUARANTEED TO MAKE ME CRY. I kid you not when I say that these two classes are the most awful ones in the school. I detest them. (On the bright side, though, once I get these credits out of the way, I *never* need to take another Health or PE class again.)

How do you feel about soft tacos?

I don't really eat tacos a lot? But I've never experienced a particular dislike for soft tacos on the occasions when I have eaten them. I suppose I have a fairly good opinion of them on the whole. Unless they're sentient and they're coming for me in order to avenge their fallen brethren.
bilbo being #relatable

Favorite Disney movie?

This should go without saying, but: Mulan ALL THE WAY. Mulan is such an amazing, resourceful, courageous character (both in the movie and in the original ballad, although the two versions differ in many ways). Plus, the movie has sass everywhere and much girl power, and when I first saw it, it was the one Disney movie I could really relate to—the main character was Asian (hooray!) and she didn't fit into the typical definition of 'femininity' (although again, movie Mulan is very different from ballad Mulan). I think it completely changed the way I looked at storytelling and at my own identity.
what a dork. i would say 'protect' but you don't need protecting
the animals in this movie have so much sass
Close second is probably Big Hero 6, though. There's an adorable huge balloon robot and an equally adorable main character. There's diversity and sass. There are super cool action scenes (I mean, that's honestly a necessary thing sometimes!). I just love Big Hero 6 a lot, and I feel like it's not appreciated enough.
*still screaming*

Best villain ever?

Oh my goodness, this is so difficult. There are lots of tired, cliché, uncomplicated villains out there, but there are also layered, fascinating, magnetic ones. Currently, my favorite villain is Talis, the amoral AI overlord of the world featured in Erin Bow's The Scorpion Rules (it's a straight-up genius YA dystopian that comes out later this month; I was lucky enough to snag an eARC). He's snarky, brilliantly strategic, and utterly remorseless, but with a surprising and breathtaking depth to him. Definitely one of the most memorable villains I've ever read.

Favorite musical?

Of the musicals I've actually seen in person, I have to say my favorites are Fiddler on the Roof and Wicked. (Although in the case of Wicked, I may be biased because I saw it in New York. On ACTUAL BROADWAY.) Fiddler on the Roof has elements of culture, history, and family that I didn't think I'd enjoy but ended up absolutely loving, and the dialogue, music, and character dynamics are spot-on + so well-done. Wicked is absolutely hilarious in some parts but powerfully reflective in others, as it looks at the strange power of friendship, the twisting nature of time, and the boundaries between good and... well, wicked. 

How much do you hate spoilers?

This is how I react when I see one for a fandom I'm not in and want to get into, or one for a fandom that I'm in but am not too deeply invested in:
i've been waiting to use this for forever
Now, this is how I react when I see one for a fandom I'm really into:
look i'm not in the asoiaf fandom but i still love daenerys? oops
In sum: I hate them a lot. Please don't bring them anywhere near me. In fact, KILL THEM WITH FIRE. (Or alternatively, please use spoiler tags. I'm really not a big fan of getting a bunch of spoilers and then being forced to go into a show or story or film where everything is a foregone conclusion.)

What’s the best thing about your blog? 

Honestly? Probably the title. (FOREVER PROUD of my blog title.) The actual content, on the other hand—well, anyone who's been here for a while knows that sometimes my posts can become puddles of caps and sappy thoughts. If you're looking for a ~quality~ blogger with her act together (and an actual posting schedule), you'd be best served in continuing your search elsewhere. Although for those of you who have put up with me for a while: thank you! You're the greatest.

What are three books that everyone must read before they die, period?

  • All the Rage by Courtney Summers, for its discussion of rape culture, its take-no-prisoners attitude, its powerfully dynamic and unavoidably human main character, and its gut-wrenchingly visceral prose.
  • A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens, for its lens into the tide of history, its deeply passionate and distinctive cast of characters, its sweeping and masterful writing, and its paragraph of a first sentence.
  • The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, for its unique and stunningly emotional narration (courtesy of Death), its heartbreakingly wonderful characters, its historical setting, and its grasp on what makes us human.
End of discussion. *bows*

Discuss your opinion on corn on the cob.

Honestly? I think it's generally delicious, but it's very dependent on the kind of corn. For example, yellow corn here in America tends to be very sweet and nice (in my experience), while corn in Korea tends to be more whitish and honestly kind of tasteless (but nonetheless amazing once salted). Overall, though, I like it, and since I tend to eat more corn on the cob around my birthday month, it holds a pretty positive connotation for me. 

What do you want to be when you grow up?

Honestly, I'm pretty open to whatever comes my way as long as a) it's related to books, publishing, media, and/or the Internet in some way, b) it pays enough for me to support myself, and c) it allows me to write novels, poetry, and the like on the side. Of course, being a full-time poet and YA author would be the dream, but I realize that that's not really feasible until I have at least a few books under my belt aka a vaguely (that's a BIG 'vaguely') reliable source of income.

Do you have a favorite punctuation mark?

What can I say? I'm a walking cliché & I love ampersands. I love fonts with pretty ampersands. I love the geeky Latin origin of ampersands. But I'm also quite partial to semicolons, especially when used correctly; I really don't know why other people seem to find them so intimidating. I've got a weakness for em-dashes as well, which you've probably noticed if you've been reading the blog for a while—I tend to overuse them, I think.

(Props to you if you see what I did there. *twirls*)

Describe the best trip you ever took.

I'm fortunate enough to have gone on lots and lots of wonderful, eye-opening trips in my lifetime so far. But my best trip was definitely the one I took to Korea the summer after third grade. I got to attend elementary school for about a month—at the same school that my mother attended when she was tiny!—and I learned a lot and made lots of friends (turns out being from America at a Korean school does great things for your social status). And oh my goodness, Korean school lunches are perfection. (The students there actually refuse to eat the school lunches because they think they're low quality. Imagine how they'd react to the cardboard we're typically given in America.) I also took taekwondo classes for the first time while I was there, which was at once terrible and amazing, because a) it was incredibly hot and humid, which isn't great if you're engaged in intense physical activity every single weekday, but b) that also meant I got to eat a veritable mountain of ice cream. Plus, taekwondo is a lot of fun. And of course, visiting Korea is always wonderful because I get to see family (the vast majority of my relatives live there) and practice my Korean (fun fact: I actually picked up the dialect of my mother's hometown within two days) and eat delicious food (so much food).

Honorable mention goes to my most recent trip to Korea, about two years ago, in which a hairdresser asked me whether it's true that everyone in the US carries a gun everywhere. (Wake up, America! THIS is how the rest of the world sees us.)

I hereby bestow this award on

...some lovely recent-ish commenters who also run stunning blogs. (I was going to also give it to Alyssa, but I know you're dealing with the tag backlog of the century, so.)

Chiara | Aneeqah | Adelyn | E.R. | Alex | Ana | AnQi | Morning | Samantha | Aimee | Jo

Some questions for you all

  1. If you could steal the wardrobe of one book character, whose would it be?
  2. Your life has just become a novel! Write a short pitch for said novel.
  3. What's your favorite foreign film? 
  4. What does breakfast typically look like for you?
  5. If you could make a PSA on any subject and have it broadcasted to the entire world, what would that subject be?
  6. What is your stance on unicorns?
  7. Favorite obscure word?
  8. Who is your favorite non-human(ish) fictional character (think animals, robots, etc.)?
  9. Go back to the very first post you made on your blog. Is it cringe-worthy or surprisingly okay?
  10. You have to assemble a team of nine bloggers—including yourself—for a grand and dangerous adventure, Fellowship of the Ring-style. Who would you choose and why?
  11. What is your favorite soup?

Thanks again, Heather! And congrats to the award recipients.

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I'm very excited to have a new poem up today in Textploit, which is a gorgeous online publication run by and for Very Cool Young Creatives age twenty or under. (I totally made up that label, but I like to think that we're all in some kind of not-so-secret club.) Textploit has published several brilliant young writers that I really admire, including Meggie Royer, Lydia Havens, and Lucy Wainger. Plus, they've also published my ridiculously talented writer friends Rona and Margaret. Who wouldn't be thrilled to be in such wonderful company?

Also, I love that Textploit is dedicated to helping young people publish their art in an online publishing world that often isn't very friendly to them. From their submissions guidelines:
People always talk about “finding your voice,” but breaking news: you already have a voice. Let’s hear it.
The poem, "Creation Myth," is very loosely based on parts of a Korean creation myth (look, my titling game is so strong) called the Cheonjiwang Bonpuli (that's 천지왕 본풀이 in Hangul). It's most often retold on Jeju Island. The poem's first stanza is a vague reference to the very beginning of the myth: the earth and the sky are originally supposed to have been one great void, and the earth is formed when a gap appears in the middle of this void. Everything heavier than the gap falls down to become the earth, and everything lighter rises to become the sky. From there, everything that exists in the sky and on the earth forms from two large drops of dew—one in the sky, one on the earth. This is very loosely referred to in the second stanza. The poem's last stanza contains a reference to a "second sun," as the Cheonjiwang Bonpuli states that there were originally two suns in the sky. (The extra one is later shot down by one of the sons of Cheonjiwang, the leader of the gods.) But again, all of this is very vague in the poem.

In addition, "Creation Myth" is the first of my Adroit mentorship poems to hit the Internet, so you may notice a difference in style that hasn't shown itself in previous poems of mine you may have read. It's a good difference, though, I think. Hopefully more new and improved Christina poetry (read: more archetypes, more femininity, more intersections between body and nature, all that good stuff), courtesy of a fabulous summer and an even more fabulous mentor, will be coming your way in the near-ish future!

In short: surprise, Christina wrote another mythpoem. (You don't see them in the open often but goodness, do I write a lot of them.) You can head over to the Textploit website to find my poem here.

What a great way to finish off the summer! (School is starting tomorrow. HELP.) What do you think of my poetry? Or of mythology-based poems? Let's chat!

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