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The poet who vanished
May 3, 2014 2:39 PM   Subscribe

The poet Rosemary Tonks turned her back on the literary world in the mid-1970s, leaving behind her a handful of strange and brilliant poems and a small band of devoted admirers who longed to know what had happened to her. For forty years she disappeared completely, 'evaporated into air like the Cheshire Cat', as Brian Patten remarked in a 2009 BBC documentary, The Poet Who Vanished. Now, with news of her death at the age of 85, the story of her life is starting to emerge.
posted by verstegan (14 comments total) 67 users marked this as a favorite

 
Well, damn. She was really something.

.
posted by mykescipark at 2:52 PM on May 3


Wow, how can any written thing even be that good?
Suddenly
My past hurls her dream towards me!
I steady myself … but how tender, carnal, blasé it is.
had me sobbing out of nowhere.
You’ll also find speculation as to whether (Nymphadora) Tonks, the shape-shifting magus and Guardian of the Department of Mysteries in the later Harry Potter books, was created in honour of the poet. I’d love to believe that was true.
Exactly what I was wondering about after reading the first poem.
posted by jamjam at 3:07 PM on May 3 [3 favorites]


.
posted by Mister Bijou at 3:22 PM on May 3


I can't but hope that a trove of unpublished writings is found.
posted by Kattullus at 3:35 PM on May 3 [1 favorite]


Very Ern-Malley-ish, but truer & therefore (also) good.
posted by chavenet at 3:41 PM on May 3 [1 favorite]


As the first comment on her obituary said: this is the saddest thing I have read for some time.

Moving into the Bournemouth house in 1980, she completed the obliteration of the person she had been, consigning an unpublished novel to the garden incinerator, along with a priceless collection of Oriental treasures, once her inspiration – all these were false gods to be destroyed. That October, she travelled to Jerusalem and was baptised near the river Jordan.
posted by kariebookish at 3:45 PM on May 3 [3 favorites]


.
posted by Obscure Reference at 4:15 PM on May 3


From Iliad of Broken Sentences:
The Sofas, Fogs, and Cinemas, by Rosemary Tonks
posted by Mister Bijou at 4:16 PM on May 3


Lots of her poems are here. The blog owner seems to have added some idiosyncratic spelling and punctuation, though.
…when I see that cigarillo, when I see it…smoking
And he wants to face the international situation…
Lunatic rages! Blackness! Suffocation!

-- All this sitting about in cafés to calm down
Simply wears me out. And their idea of literature!
The idiotic cut of stanzas; the novels, full up, gross.

I have lived it, and I know too much.
My café-nerves are breaking me
With black, exhausting information.
posted by Joe in Australia at 5:03 PM on May 3 [2 favorites]


"In 1977, she [had] emergency operations on detached retinas in both eyes, which saved her eyesight but left her nearly blind for the next few years."

I understand what is meant here, but it really feels like the old joke about how the operation was a success but the patient died.
posted by Ian A.T. at 5:07 PM on May 3


She seems a woman of dangerous passions.
posted by Diablevert at 6:31 PM on May 3 [1 favorite]


As the first comment on her obituary said: this is the saddest thing I have read for some time.

I disagree. I think that if we respect her art we are obligated to respect her decision to abandon it.
posted by my favorite orange at 7:03 PM on May 3 [4 favorites]


What does that have to do with how sad it is?
posted by LogicalDash at 7:07 PM on May 3 [2 favorites]



-As the first comment on her obituary said: this is the saddest thing I have read for some time.

--Moving into the Bournemouth house in 1980, she completed the obliteration of the person she had been, consigning an unpublished novel to the garden incinerator


Made me think of Henri Duparc, and how little of his sublime work we have left.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 5:20 AM on May 5 [1 favorite]


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