Image by Caroline Forbes

Poem introduction

By the time I came to writing my second book, The Handless Maiden, I'd got a lot braver. And one of the poems in it is a poem about marigolds. There's a whole tradition of writing poems comparing women to flowers, mostly by male poets. It's a sort of flattery - women are beautiful like flowers - but they are also silent and passive and they fade, of course, quite quickly. So they're often seduction poems - a famous one is Herrick's 'Gather ye roses while ye may'. I wanted to write a poem about flowers that subverted that tradition and took the power for women. There's a quite scary end to this poem - and I've never actually torn the head off a man, I mean not even, I hope, metaphorically, and I don't know any women who have. I was thinking of the women in the Bacchae legend.

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Over the years I’ve become increasingly interested in the lyrical nature of poetry. I find that the more I’ve taken in...

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