In Grade Ten, I once had an essay due on a Wednesday afternoon. I waited until the Wednesday morning, until around three a.m., before starting it--before even thinking about it. Those who know me will understand.
The assignment required us to analyse a poem of our choice. I had selected "The Stenographers" by P.K. Page from our anthology immediately upon having the essay assigned, merely because I liked the sound of the poet's name. Thus it was that I sentenced my over-caffeinated, over-stimulated fifteen-year-old brain to hobble through the endless hallucinatory wastes of the darkest-before-the-dawn--all aglow with the harsh halo of incipient psychosis--whilst grappling with verses like, "In their eyes I have seen/ the pin men of madness in marathon trim/ race round the track of the stadium pupil".
Nights like that write themselves on your soul. In the best tradition of Catholic masochism, I actually enjoyed the experience: there was something unhealthily thrilling about grinding my helpless teenaged exhaustion against the vitriol and spitting rage of Page's poem--which, for sheer Electra-like murderousness, manages to out-Plath Sylvia Plath by more than a decade.
P.K. Page passed away yesterday. She was ninety-three years old. May I be granted the privilege of, at least once, electrifying someone's darkness as brilliantly as she did mine.
By the Way:
Just a reminder that I'm still keeping the Queen's end up (so to speak) over at Catelli's and that you're all invited to go over there and throw some peanuts from the galleries.