Lost Child by Emily McAvan

Issue 13

To write,
you have to do,
and then suddenly undo,

You have to live,
fragments of yourself
exploded to splinters,
you have to want
something to survive.

I was so afraid that I thought
in the disquiet of my mind,
the fear and disgust,
that one writes to inflict pain.

But where is it written that you have to be unhappy?


Source: Story of a Lost Child by Elena Ferrante

Method: I wrote this poem with the aid of a Markov text generator, which feeds in prose as an input and generates an output randomly. I grabbed the best bits of random prose, repeating the process until I got something I liked, and then edited for sense from there. I worked using material from the pseudonymous Italian writer Elena Ferrante, whose Neapolitan novels are some of the best literature of the last decade.

Emily McAvan is a Jewish Australian poet whose work sits at the intersection between sacred and profane.