The Poem of the Week is 'Ring Around the Poison Ivy' by Mae Foreman
This weeks Poerm of the Week is 'Ring Around the Poison Ivy' by Mae Foreman. A hypnotic nursery rhyme with a dark heart, like all the best rhymes it juxtaposes bright imagery with a darker, more serious pulse underneath.
With hints of Norse mythology, apocalyptic events and good old-fashioned heartbreak, it is a perfectly penned rhyme, exact and with every word finding its place.
Below Mae answers our Q&A:
What got you into writing poetry?
I always had the urge to write but for many years I simply had nothing significant to say. And I am not particuarly good at writing about the beauty of things. When I was younger, things seemed perfectly clear. I knew what was reasonable and what was unreasonable. I knew right from wrong. I was certain I knew everything, I was sure I had everything right. Youthful omniscience is a blessing. Can you imagine what sort of hell childhood would be if children were aware of the chaos of life? So in a neat and tidy world what is there to write about but how normal and nondescript things are…? Although now I write about all kinds of thigs, life, death, the human condition and people are primarily my source of inspiration. So I was able to start writing only when those things “happened” to me.
As I grew things became more and more complicated, naturally. It all culminated at the year 2015, I was twenty two years old and I got diagnosed with cancer.
Suddenly I found myself with thousands of balls in the air; balls that looked more like hand grenades and I had to juggle them all and try not to have them fall on the ground and blow up or explode in my palms. In these dark times only two things brought me solace: silence and reading poetry.
Soon enough I was drowning in an ocean of things to say. A lot of questions I couldn’t answer; I couldn’t even put the questions into words! Writing came like Deus Ex Machina. As I’ve said before, and I stand by it, art (in any and every form) is the imaginary solution to a problem that is unsolvable in real life.
There was thorn in my mind, I felt a certain, vague sting but I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. I couldn’t fathom what was what anymore, I couldn’t sort things through, I couldn't put my thoughts in order, nor could I express them in literal terms. I found it easier to phrase them through limericks, rhymes, allegories, metaphors, short stories and ultimately poetry.
So that is what got me into writing poetry; frustration and the work of brilliant poets!
How long have you been writing?
I have been writing since 2015; four messy, tumultuous, impossible, formative years. It's still sort of new to me.
Do you go to any open-mic nights?
I’ve never been in an open mic night. Since I live in Greece, I assume such events are held for people who write and perform in Greek. I have absolutely no idea if there are any open mic events for people who write and perform in English.
Who/What is your favourite poet/poem?
Can there be such a thing as one favorite poem or one favorite poet?! I have many but today my favorite poem is Allen Ginsberg’s “The Howl”. as poems go and as for poets I'd have to pick Edna St. Vincent Millay (again one among many).
You're cast away on a desert island. What's your luxury?
My luxury (and poison) would be music! If I were cast away in a desert island I think I’d like to have a guitar with me! Now if a guitar is too big to carry or too much of a luxury I could settle for a ukulele!
Ring around the Poison Ivy
by Mae Foreman
Ring around the daffodil
All the gods have fallen ill
One by one
The forts burned down!
Ring around the asphodel
Cheaters do not kiss and tell
Stars no longer shine and twinkle!
Ring around the daisy
Standards growing hazy
Foul Words, Foul Words
Hearts break too!
Ring around the poison ivy
Sip "The Lie" from Monday to Friday
Mithridat shall never die!