Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Tuesday Poem - Insomnia by Kathryn Schoenhals Feigel

Hi. I wonder how you're all doing now that Christmas is in the past and the world is gearing up for what it considers to be the next crucial calendar date? (I've decided again - I am definitely a Kronos rebel.)

I've been Elsewhere since posting my pre-Christmas message; hence the unhappy dearth of responses to your wonderful good wishes (apologies for this; I do not like not being able to engage). Much appreciated they were; you are. Thank you. 


I came across the powerfully affecting poem Insomnia by Kathryn Schoenhals Feigel (known to her readers as Kass) some weeks ago whilst enjoying a lively comments discussion on Marylinn Kelly's blog. Marylinn had written a wonderful piece about the rogue-ishness of sleep. Her post began 'Sleep rolled in very late last night. Of course, I had to wait up. Thoughtless. We may need to have the talk with words like curfew and responsibility...'  

Kass offered visitors to Marylinn's site her poem Insomnia in response. I asked her if she'd  consider letting me post it here as part of our Tuesday Poem series. Thanks for saying 'yes', Kass. When I first read this poem, I confess to feeling quite tossed about by it; it upended me, upset my equilibrium. Such potency; its ferocity and forthrightness stayed with me long after that first reading. I'm sure you'll all agree - this is a fine piece of high-voltage writing.  

detail from Peter Nicholls' * steel sculpture - 2009


In the evening,
the sinister curl of his lips
forms the first of many
smarmy solicitations
to lie with him.
Holding me flush against the sheets,
he presses.

He authors consternated, greedy love-making,
giving up the plot right away,
submitting endless revisions,
bookmarking me for tomorrow.
Gathering courage, I grab his face,
hold it close to mine.
I scream - I am alive,
not carrion -
I suggest there are others
he could plunder.

With hostile indifference
he reveals his promiscuous need
to drive minions
through his slavish sluices.
He taunts me, tells me
wallowing is all I will ever know.

At dawn,
sated by his manic insistence and with
plagiarized grace,
he grants a partial spasmodic respite,
in which I dream intensely
of wakefulness.

Kathryn Schoenhals Feigel

In the intro. on her blog, Kass describes herself as an 'irrational optimist.'  She writes, 'I like knockwurst, knapsacks, knots, knee-highs, knights, kneaded bread dough, knolls, knives, knobs and knitting. I like knocking on doors that open. I like the idea of scoundrely knaves wearing knickers having a knack for knutty knowledge. I like the idea of being known. I like this "K" not being silent - about anything.' 

Each time I've encountered Kass - whether on her own blog, or in comments threads on others' - I've come away inspired by her warmth, insight, humour and compassion. 

To enjoy more of Kass's writing, visit her online poetry room here


On the Tuesday Poem hub this week, you will find details of the inaugural Caselberg Trust International Poetry Competition. (TP poets are on holiday for a couple of weeks; Mary McCallum will pick up the baton again with a poem on 18 January 2011.) 

* Peter Nicholls website 
Interview with Peter on TV NZ's programme, Artsville 


  1. Welcome back, Claire. You have been missed. And Kass's poem---zowie. Thrilling and chilling and wonderfully erotic--or should I say demonic? I made a trip to her website after reading that poem--what a treasure trove. Thank you for posting Kass's poem and directing us to her other poems.

  2. Dear Melissa - thank you. I've missed not being more here, too. Kass's poem elicits all kinds of responses, doesn't it? Not one of them half-measure. I'm so pleased to know you've visited her website where readers are treated to poems of exquisite delicacy.
    L, C x

  3. there's some wonderful lines here ...

    Kass has such a gifted way with words.

  4. Kass selcts words that vibrate with intensity, offering a unique display of her language abilities. I am amazed whenever I read her poetry and prose.She has a good selection to offer the reader just a few blogs back that I read and reread with enjoyment.

  5. Hello Susan - I recognize your name from Kass's blog. Great to find you here in support of her fine writing. I have just been to visit your blog, too, a welcoming place of quiet. Thank you.

  6. Hi Steve - yes, yes and yes! Thanks for coming by - I've just been over to 'Out on the Prairie' and been astounded by the pics of your Mid-West winter. Take care - keep warm. Claire

  7. I'm so thrilled you've highlighted what a wonderful writer Kass is and hopefully given her the confidence to get her poems out there for more people to read them and discover just how special a person she is.

  8. terrific poem--thanks so muh for posting, i have been a student of insomnia...a recalcitrant student, often keptfor many long hours after school for further punishment, humiliation...so i am drawn to all who have lain down with this demon. best use is to take insomnia on a very long forced march toward creative ends, as has done our new friend Kass.
    kudos to both of you...

  9. Hope you enjoyed the Elsewhere-Otherwhere, Claire. And thanks for the poem--you're right, a powerful extended metaphor.

    I also like Frankie McMillan's prose poem, 'Sleep', from her collection "Dressing for the Cannibals" and will ask if I can share it through the TP soon. The opening line is:

    "When sleep eluded me yet again, I put on my running shoes to give chase ..."

  10. May I second all who wish to see Kass reach a wider audience. All that is needed is to read her poetry to want to share it, to discover more. Thank you. xo

  11. Claire,

    What's most refreshing about your blog, I feel, is how you import a pulse from your life into your words, you seem to find and share that salubrious balance.

    Happy New Year to you, Dear Girl.


  12. John, you say the kindest things. My life seems more often than not to be in a state of imbalance these days, but thank you for your encouragement. (I do love the round shape and lush colour of the word 'salubrious').

    All the very best to you for this coming year, too, John G. (May a publisher find - or be shown - the way to your door.).

  13. Glad to see Kass getting some exposure. We have been friends for a while (she is a great supporter of my own writing) and I think she is due a bit more attention. Let's hope this gets her a few new readers for 2011.

  14. Hi Rachel - I agree with everything you say about Kass's writing and would also like to see it reach more people.
    One of the things I appreciate about her poetry is that it calls us to lean in a little closer, to listen.

  15. Hello Susan! It is a terrific poem, yes. As you say, the best way to deal with insomnia (perhaps we elevate it to too high a position by giving it a capital 'I'!) is to come up with some or other creative combat. My boat project (in all is various iterations) came about as a direct result of insomnia and the maddening anxiety that accompanied it. I woke one morning in the wee hours with the prompt 'get up and fold paper boats.' I did - and what a journey they have taken me on. . . (have enjoyed much better sleep since that early morning a year and a half ago, and my anxiety has evaporated.).
    I'm happy to know you're fired by Kass's poem, too, Susan! Love, C xo

  16. Hi Helen - a powerful extended metaphor, yes.

    Terrific first line from Frankie, too! Isn't it great when one poem or idea leads us to another. Kass's and Frankie's could be great featured side-by-side. I'm looking forward to reading the rest of it. Happy New Year!

  17. Marylinn - thank you for setting this little exchange in motion! I love how these things unfold. . . if you hadn't written your post on Sleep when you did, the rest of us might have to wait a while longer to discover Kass's poetry. There are times aplenty when it's very good to stay awake! xo

  18. Hello Jim - happy to find you here. Welcome. I've long appreciated your comments and conversation on Elisabeth's blog, 'Sixth in Line' - and elsewhere around the blogosphere, including Kass's site. I visit 'Truth and Lies', too, and especially enjoyed your recent reflective piece, 'Better Halves'.

    I agree, it would be great to see Kass's poetry reachin a wider audience. I am hoping she might allow me to feature her again on the Tuesday Poem 'hub' in February.