No girl sets out to die

November Butterfly, my first poetry collection

November Butterfly (my first poetry collection) comes out in 30 days! I’m anxious, nervous, and excited.

Inadvertently, over the past seven years, as I wrote the poems that would become November Butterfly, I left a trail of process posts regarding writing and the iconic women igniting my imagination on the path to understanding what it means to be female, creative, and curious.  Here [is one of them, from a 2009 post to my blog Feral Mom, Feral Writer] to get you started thinking about Marilyn with me.


Marilyn, Arriving: Collage, Astrology and Poetry

I never met her, but there she stood, on the back of one of the bedroom doors in our house, gracing a poster taller than my parents. I remember falling asleep to that black and white image: city street, sturdy legs, skirt billowing up, one hand holding down the pleats but not really. It was either my brother’s poster or a poster we pitched in on for my father — I can’t remember. Maybe seventh grade.

Then she made her way into a collage I was making at a tiny round table in Joyce Renwick’s basement. (Joyce pulled me up by my bootstraps after graduate school and not only rented me her basement apartment but talked some sense into my poetry loving brain...“Yes, you can write, but you have to earn a living until your writing can earn your living...so let’s figure out where you can teach....”). Dutifully, I landed a few summer creative writing workshops to teach and by night, scored essays at one of the testing agencies in Iowa City.

As I made the transition from graduate student to working teacher that winter, I made collages. This particular one featured a stained glass cathedral window, the gray and white photo of a hummingbird, the fanned feathers of its extended wings mirroring the white fan of that same girl’s skirt, same pose. The hummingbird and the girl were separated by a close-up of the petals of a rose, and one of those angels stepping down out of the sky in silken robes on the verge of catching fire. I hung the collage at the foot of my bed where the dark paneled walls had not yet been painted white, and the low popcorn ceiling seemed to undulate even after I closed my eyes.

In secret rebellion [against] my working life, I’d taken up astrology. I drove beside my “real astrologer” friend Bonnie through the bitterly cold night to our teacher Andrea. For homework, Andrea handed out five charts of public figures. Our job was to guess. Only one of the charts floated into focus, given my rudimentary sense of the energies of the planets. It was so long ago I can’t haul up the specifics of the chart; I only know I recognized something, like when you are swimming and you sense, for example, a seal or a dolphin approaching before you spot them beside you. From this chart, I got a visceral sensation of vulnerability, charisma, and danger, all woven together. I thought it might be her.

Yes, Andrea nodded, you have Marilyn before you.

And ever since then, the reverse birth image never left me: of petals, hummingbirds, and Marilyn trying to breathe.


Under what circumstances did you first become aware of Marilyn Monroe? What haunts or irritates you about Marilyn? Address her directly: Dear Marilyn… Or, alternately, allow her to address you… Or use as a first line, “No girl sets out to die…” Write, without stopping if you can, for at least 20 minutes.

Excerpt from “Marilyn”:

  • Mother would say I was born
  • naked and blind like a hummingbird,
  • no bigger than a bumble bee, able to get
  • as much lift from the down beat
  • as the up, unaware of danger: neither
  • preying mantis camouflaged below
  • nor kestrel by air. By far the largest
  • bone in my body: the breast!
  • to house the useless nonsense
  • of my heart...

Blog title: Tania Pryputniewicz | Address: taniapryputniewicz.com

Post Title: Marilyn, or No Girl Sets Out to Die: November Butterfly Poetry Prompt 1

Post Date: October 2, 2014

Author: Tania Pryputniewicz | From: Coronado | Blogging since: November 2007

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