Essay on Hidden in Plain Poetry

Submitted By sschroder13
Words: 707
Pages: 3

Brenda Shaughnessy stopped keeping a diary after she felt that her thoughts had been violated when both her mother and her girlfriend read her written feelings. In a sense, her poetry has picked up the role of her diary, allowing her an outlet to free her emotions. However, although all the more public, her poetry exposes more of Shaughnessy than her diaries ever did. These secret truths are however hidden behind the contradictions and rhyming couplets of her poems, and it is really only Shaughnessy herself that can solve the poem’s puzzle for its true meaning. Brenda Shaughnessy uses poetry to explore the most profound of her emotions, but hides her vulnerability behind the complexity that this personal exploration yields.
Shaughnessy, during her time in our class, expressed the extreme betrayal she felt after her diaries had been read, explaining the damage it caused her as a writer when her writing left her so hurt. The first time Shaughnessy’s diary was wrongfully opened was in ninth grade, when Shaughnessy believes that her mother read her promiscuous thoughts about having sex with her classmate. Her intimate life was again revealed after college, when her girlfriend found the diary that detailed Shaughnessy’s sexual partners (class discussion). These two events caused Shaughnessy to throw out her journals as she felt “unsafe if she wrote…her private thoughts”, a destructive feeling for a person who makes a living off writing. However, Shaughnessy “needed to write, if [she] didn’t, [she] would turn that rage inwards or become a really angry person” (class discussion). Her poetry provides her with a new outlet, a physical log of her emotions.
Poetry gave Shaughnessy much more than just a place to record her thoughts, offering her a place to explore these reflections down to the “very bottom of all feelings”(class discussion). Some of her poems are intensely racy, a seemingly odd subject to share after the events with her diary. She publishes her sexual experiences for every reader to follow, yet feels violated when those same experiences were read in her diary. The difference lies in the complexity and contradictions of her poetry. While her diary blatantly logs her sex life, her poetry prods at the deeper focus of her sexual acts. In her poem I’m Over the Moon Shaughnessy clearly explores her sexuality, “No panties ripped off and the crotch sucked/ No lacerating spasms/ sending electrical sparks through the toes”(I’m Over the Moon). However, the poem explores more than the physicality of the night’s acts, prodding at the reasons for her actions. “You’re a tool, moon./ Now, noon. There’s a hero./ The obvious sun, no bullshit, the enemy/ of poets and lovers, sleepers and creatures (I’m Over the Moon)” The night conceals…