Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Janet Frame

'The Starting Point is Myth'

Born in Dunedin in 1924, the third of five children, Frame grew up in an eccentric railway family in the small towns of Otago Province. Her Oamaru childhood was marred by poverty, illness and tragedy (two of her sisters drowned in separate incidents). It was nonetheless remarkable for a close, imaginatively intense home-life where "words were revered as the instruments of magic." After being misdiagnosed with schizophrenia as a young woman in her twenties, over a period of more than eight years she endured over 200 electric shock treatments. She was infamously saved from a lobotomy in 1951 when her debut collection of stories, The Lagoon, won the Hubert Church Memorial Award.

The agenda for her prose, wrestling with the dual/jewel (to borrow a typical Frame word-play) nature of 'truth' entangled in the medium of its expression, is laid out the famous opening lines of To the Is-land:

"From the first place of liquid darkness, within the second place of air and light, I set down the following record with its mixture of fact and truths and memories of truths and its direction toward the Third Place, where the starting point is myth."

Two poems:


Wayward as dust when the wind blows around corners
into blind eyes; petrifying as stone
that sinks the heart of thistledown.
Grave as gravity denied
supremacy in outer space,
tall metaphor, explain me,
describe my shape.

from The Pocket Mirror


"The sun is all love and murder, judgement,
the perpetual raid of conscience,
paratrooping light which opens
like a snow-blossom
in the downward drift of death.
Wherever I turn -
the golden cymbals of judgement,
the summoning of the torturers of light."

from Scented Gardens for the Blind


Blogger stickleback2&cocainejesus said...

Never heard of this person before your excellent post.
Glad we saw your site and visited.

8:59 AM  
Blogger burning moon said...

hi, thanks for visiting. Janet Frame has a book of new poems out that were published posthumously. She was shortlisted twice for a nobel literary prize.
I posted the photo of her because I love the expression on her face.
She looks to me as though she beholds an inner vision.

I checked out your blogs too. Nice stuff on them.

1:37 PM  
Blogger Plus Ultra said...

Wow, I must get hold of her book, never heard of her until now..another beautiful mind( what I was alluding to in my two recent posts on Schizophrenia, perhaps you could read them...and let me have feedback, and while you are there check out Angeldust's comments)...the poetry quoted are lovely....

5:20 AM  

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