Monday, 10 March 2008

Sisters by Pauline Plummer

First, read the poem Sisters by Pauline Plummer.

Now enjoy the critique:

The poem Sisters is a poem that would touch most modern women, with echoes of Sapphic lyrical poetry. It is a poem about female identity and addresses the role of self in everyday life. The vibrant opening line Let's get drunk, my women friends is a politically charged call to arms and immediately accentuates the unity suggested by the title.

However, the celebratory atmosphere is quickly dulled with the shadows of the day in red madder. Although the women join to Tell bad jokes about the men and comfortably mock their power with laughter, the line Yes, we still sing the old blues songs portrays the delicacy of the situation. In an attempt to regain a sense of self, the women also mock our children's antics. The behaviours that they mock are a mixture of age old gripes such as This one's tantrums, that one's sloth and very modern realities: Another rescued from the park, drunk,/One in baggy cast offs, one in cloth/of gold. The descriptions conjure up very realistic images of modern motherhood.

The women in the poem are collectively showing signs of strength; yet each still craves their identity as a woman outside of their roles as mother or wife in the glare of society and its expectations. Together they murmur for a love gone wrong. The question Should we be angels or despots? Use mustard gas to quell the riots? highlights the uncertainties of how women should deal with the pressures of modern life. The instability of their situations is revealed further by placing two questions in quick succession: the poem is moving from the hilarity of the early stages of drink to the melancholic effects of alcohol.

The image of mustard gas is built upon with We need laughter to give us the nerve in the closing lines. The women are feeling trapped in a battle with their men and children, but most importantly with themselves. The initial call to celebrate is now dampened and it becomes a requirement: So drink up the glass that we deserve. Despite all outward appearances, by mocking their men and their children, they are actually mocking their own frustrations and inability to escape their predicaments. Through their solidarity the women in this poem have revealed their weaknesses.

However, the poem does not necessarily have a negative note. Through joining ranks the women also show their resilience: in the face of adversity they pull together and bond to overcome their current predicaments and walk away head held high.


Discussed with kind permission from Pauline Plummer and Dogeater

1 comment:

Jasmine said...

The women in the poem are collectively showing signs of strength; yet each still craves their identity as a woman outside of their roles...

This is, in my opnion, one of the most striking things about Pauline's work: the fact that she is able to retain an individual voive whilst writing about issues that affect our collective group.

Pauline is an under-rated talent in my opnion and her work deserves greater exposure - so thanks for the critique, which I stumbled upon after searching for something else! This site really is a little diamond in a sea of cubic zironica!!! Keep up the good work as I'll be popping back to see what else you have on offer. Thanks