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Seph Rodney reads "Nick and the Candlestick"

California photographer Seph Rodney reads "Nick and the Candlestick" by Sylvia Plath.

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    I remember very well, that I came home and I was really upset, and it was a date situation. And I wanted to go out with this girl, and I just ended up feeling very bad at the end of it. It just didn't work out the way I wanted it to do.

    I just ended up feeling kind of lonely and bereft, I suppose. I came home and I opened this book and I read some of the poems and, up until that point, I think, my sense of poetry was that it was always a grandiose, for lack of a better term, high fallutin, not very real way of using language.

    And I looked at this stuff, and I could not believe it. It was light-years beyond anything else I had ever read. It was powerful. It was rough. It was bitter. It was caustic. It was, at the same time, really urgent about a need for love.

    I was amazed that, here is a woman who was from a very well- heeled New England existence. And the stuff that she wrote really spoke to me, a man, a Jamaican immigrant. You could hardly get two people in the world more distant in terms of socioeconomic, intellectual, and religious realities.

    But she spoke to me. She spoke to me. She spoke, it seems, directly to my life. And because of that, I have always loved her work. And I think, in some ways, her work was sort of an entree for me into the larger world of art. And I think when I started looking at other poets, and started looking at the world of visual art, it is because of Plath.

    I think that you can have deep, profound, transformative experiences that, in a quiet setting. And, I think, actually the quiet setting. And, I think, of this in terms of my lighting, creating this kind of emotional hush. It's a place where you can… The viewer can come to and gain access to these other places.

    This is "Nick and the Candlestick" by Sylvia Plath.

    I am a miner. The light burns blue. Waxy stalactites Drip and thicken, tears

    The earthen womb

    Exudes from its dead boredom. Black bat airs

    Wrap me, raggy shawls, Cold homicides. They weld to me like plums.

    Old cave of calcium Icicles, old echoer. Even the newts are white,

    Those holy Joes. And the fish, the fish- Christ! They are panes of ice,

    A vice of knives, A piranha Religion, drinking

    Its first communion out of my live toes. The candleGulps and recovers its small altitude,

    Its yellows hearten. O love, how did you get here?O embryo

    Remembering, even in sleep, Your crossed position. The blood blooms clean

    In you, ruby. The pain You wake to is not yours.

    Love, love, I have hung our cave with roses. With soft rugs-

    The last of Victoriana. Let the stars Plummet to their dark address,

    Let the mercuric Atoms that cripple drip Into the terrible well,

    You are the one Solid the spaces lean on, envious. You are the baby in the barn.


    I love this poem because it's crazy, because it's headlong, it's brutal, it goes all over the place and it does not proceed rationally. The first line is "I am a miner and the light burns blue." You are a miner? At what blue light? What are you talking about? And the last line is like, this gift from the gods.

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