The Story Behind “Daffodils in January” by M. J. Arlett

arlett2Today’s post is written by M. J. Arlett. We published her poem “Daffodils in January”  in our Fall 2017 issue.

Daffodils in January” was a direct response to Sylvia Plath’s “Poppies in July,” the title being an obvious play on hers, as well as the word “little” in the first line. I wanted to explore the image of something that is noticeably wrong, the daffodils blooming out of season, and connect it to something with a human resonance which is, I think, so much of what poetry tries to do.

I wrote “Daffodils in January” as part of the original iteration of the Plath Poetry Project, a generative exercise I pursued with Ellene Glenn Moore and Annik Adey-Babinski during 2016. Sylvia Plath dated her poems as she finished them. We decided to follow her writing schedule in the final year of her life, writing a poem on every day that she did. Sometimes the poems would be inspired directly by hers (be it an image, a word, or a poetic device), other times they would be our own creatures entirely. After following this schedule for a year, we decided to launch the Plath Poetry Project as an attempt to bring what had been a phenomenally productive exercise to a wider community.

If poetry is, so often, about the human condition, what does it mean to write a poem in snatched instances? To force yourself to sit down and write with whatever tools and ideas you have at hand? That is how Plath wrote, at 4 a.m. before her children woke. And that is how so many other poets write, in the moments between everything else that demands our time and attention.

About the Author

M. J. Arlett was born in the UK and now lives in Texas where she is pursuing her PhD. She is an editor at the Plath Poetry Project, and her work has appeared or is forthcoming in B O D YThe Boiler, Lunch TicketPoet LoreMud Season Review, Rust + Moth, and elsewhere.

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