I’ve done an occasional Poetry Post-Mortem on my own poetry, and I enjoyed it so much that I’ve invited some of my favorite poets to send me their own Post-Mortems. Here’s the newest!

postmortem

 

The latest Poetry Post-Mortem comes from a wonderful poet who I haven’t had the chance to meet just yet, but I’m loving her work. Claire C. Holland’s I Am Not Your Final Girl is an amazing read. It takes inspiration from so many things I love that I found it hard to resist. 

Claire C. Holland

ClaireHolland

 

 

First of all, let me say thank you for having me here! I’m happy to have the opportunity to share a little bit about the creation of I Am Not Your Final Girl and one of my favorite poems from the book, “Rosemary.”

 

 

 

Rosemary
Rosemary’s Baby (1968)

It always begins with the good intentions
of men.

Her body on the deck of a ship,
inert and shining.

The way he carried her down the hall,
like a child,
like a duffel bag.
The promises he made when he put her
to bed.CoverPhoto

             This is for us,
he probably said.

Then in the morning,
how he could look at her only
sideways. How he grinned

sheepishly at her half-asked question
                    —you… while I was out?—
then shrugged, brushed his teeth,
got dressed.

Meanwhile, she still dreams
of the ship,

of cold waves lapping at unsheltered thighs.
Still wonders at the scratches
marking her skin.

She’s not so naive. She senses,
in the organ-deep way women sense things:
it’s not the Devil
you need to worry about,

but the devil you know.

Autopsy Report

When I’m feeling anxious or stressed, I often turn to horror movies as a form of therapy. Who can say why my brain formed the way it did, or why my body seems to hungrily drink in fear and then convert it into a strange sense of calm, but I’ve always found horror cathartic. That’s probably why, a month or so after the 2016 election, I found myself watching Rosemary’s Baby. In the face of a looming Trump presidency, it was somehow comforting to watch something as horrible and inevitable as Rosemary rocking her demon-child to sleep, cursed to love it no matter what. To feel that pervasive, existential dread, but also to feel it dispelling as the credits rolled.

Except this time, I couldn’t shake the mood. I hadn’t seen Rosemary’s Baby in several years, and one scene hit me harder than I expected: The scene in which Rosemary wakes up in bed unable to remember anything about the night before, and her husband explains that he had sex with her while she was passed out because he “didn’t want to miss ‘baby night.’” It’s heartbreaking to watch the expressions that cross Rosemary’s face as she digests the breach of trust inflicted upon her by her husband. Of course, the reality of the situation is even worse – much worse.

That scene was a punch in the gut. After months of debate over “locker room talk” and the soon-to-be-president’s penchant for grabbing women (with or without their consent), I felt Rosemary’s violation in a way I never had before. Not only that, but I felt protective of her, and above all else, angry on her behalf. The first lines of the poem – “It always begins with the good intentions / of men” – popped into my head, and that was the very beginning of what eventually became the first poem in I Am Not Your Final Girl. (The irony that Roman Polanski is the director of the movie that prompted me to write a book largely about assault is not lost on me.) I’ll always be thankful to Rosemary for lending me her story and allowing me to exorcise some of my own demons.

Author bio
Claire C. Holland [https://www.clairecholland.com/] is a poet and writer from Philadelphia, currently living in Los Angeles. Her first book of poetry, I Am Not Your Final Girl, is available now from Amazon [https://amzn.to/2FM7vbN]. When she’s not writing, Claire can usually be found reading or binge-watching horror movies with her husband and her Wheaten Terrier, Chief Brody.