Margaret Atwood's Poetry


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Margaret Atwood's Poetry

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Mar 12, 2007, 7:05am

While I have several of Atwood's collections, I just recently picked up an audio of her reading her own poetry from It's an old taping, from 1978, when she had several collections of poetry and only three novels in print. It is always interesting to hear a poet read their own work, although some poets, imo, are not the best readers of their own work. Atwood reads in her quiet voice. It's quite nice, really. And I always love her sense of humor.

What is your experience with Atwood's poetry? Do you have a favorite collection" poem? few lines?

Abr 24, 2007, 8:24am

To hear Margaret Atwood reading one of her poems:

Abr 24, 2007, 8:54pm

It seems Ms. Atwood has a new collection of poetry due out this fall from Virago Press entitled "The Door." I imagine publication will follow sometime later in the US.

Nov 12, 2007, 6:38am

Here's a link to an Atwood poem in yesterday's The Washington Post, introduced by Robert Pinsky.

Editado: Nov 12, 2007, 11:31am

Just found this thread and it compels me to share my all time favorite Atwood poem:

You fit into me
like a hook into an eye

a fish hook
an open eye

Nov 13, 2007, 7:40pm

yes, I love that poem. So succinct and communicates its sentiment quite well!

Jun 24, 2008, 4:28pm

just pulling this thread out of the dormant abyss. . .

Set 11, 2008, 4:50am

Last Christmas I was given two copies of "The Door" so my family obviously knows how I love Margaret Atwood. It was lovely to be able to pass the extra one to my best friend because the poem that has stayed in my head from this collection reminded me of her. It is "Your children cut their hands....", p.28.
I love this little book and have it beside my bed to dip into. Dipping always turns into complete immersion as I reread another and another. I'm thinking of "Mourning for dead cats" as I type and know I'll have to return to it tonight.

Fev 20, 2011, 3:17pm

I was just trying to help my 14 yr old find a poem to analyze (exhausting! we've gone through Wyatt, Frost, Wordsworth, Silverstein, Nash, Lear and a bunch of obscure poets from a class I took). Any way, she has it down to either Carl Sandburg's "The Fog Comes on Little Cat Feet," or this one by Atwood (which I just love):

A Sad Child

You're sad because you're sad.
It's psychic. It's the age. It's chemical.
Go see a shrink or take a pill,
or hug your sadness like an eyeless doll
you need to sleep.

Well, all children are sad
but some get over it.
Count your blessings. Better than that,
buy a hat. Buy a coat or pet.
Take up dancing to forget.

Forget what?
Your sadness, your shadow,
whatever it was that was done to you
the day of the lawn party
when you came inside flushed with the sun,
your mouth sulky with sugar,
in your new dress with the ribbon
and the ice-cream smear,
and said to yourself in the bathroom,
I am not the favorite child.

My darling, when it comes
right down to it
and the light fails and the fog rolls in
and you're trapped in your overturned body
under a blanket or burning car,

and the red flame is seeping out of you
and igniting the tarmac beside you head
or else the floor, or else the pillow,
none of us is;
or else we all are.


Now I want to read every poem Atwood has written. Any suggestions on which of her poetry collections is the must-have not to be missed book?

Fev 20, 2011, 3:42pm

I don't have them all, maybe only 4 or 5. I say just pick one and go!

Hey this one and the Sandburg both have fog in them (I memorized the Sandburg when I was about 12 and can still recite it...)

Fev 20, 2011, 3:54pm

I love The Circle Game, The Animals in that Country, and The Journals of Susanna Moodie. They are all earlier collections; I haven't read much of her more recent poetry.

Editado: Jan 28, 2018, 10:28am

>1 avaland: This poem was distributed to my ECW Grd13 class for study on 25FEB1983 and it's still contained in my binder, along with all of my other notes. I remember it being handed to me, reading it for the first time, and being haunted by it for years.

This is a photograph of me

It was taken some time ago.
At first it seems to be
a smeared
print: blurred lines and grey flecks
blended with the paper;

then, as you scan
it, you see in the left-hand corner
a thing that is like a branch: part of a tree
(balsam or spruce) emerging
and, to the right, halfway up
what ought to be a gentle
slope, a small farm house.

In the background there is a lake,
and beyond that, some low hills.

(The photograph was taken
the day after I drowned.

I am in the lake, in the centre
of the picture, just under the surface.

It is difficult to say where
precisely, or to say
how large or small I am:
the effect of water
on light is a distortion

but if you look long enough,
you will be able to see me.)


Margaret Atwood became a Canadian Edgar Allan Poe to me at that precise moment, since I had read much of his works prior to this day, but had never read an Atwood novel. The poetry fused in my brain for some strange reason, and resonated for 30 odd years. This poem is likely why Surfacing was selected as my first of her novels to read.

In some ways, I feel the same about Anne Michaels. I like her novels but I love her poetry.

Fev 26, 2018, 11:59am

>12 frahealee: I can see why you chose Surfacing! I like to do the reverse—read the poetry by authors whose fiction I also read (although I do read poetry by people who do not write fiction, too).