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This transcript from the film World of Light: A Portrait of May Sarton illuminates the life and writing of the poet while celebrating the joys of creativity, love, and solitude
In June of 1979, May Sarton answered the questions of two filmmakers and read to them from her poetry. This four-day “jam session” ultimately became an acclaimed documentary about her life and work.
For Sarton, the muse has always been female, and the writer says that her own poems “tell me where to go.” In this rare and inspiring window into a singular woman’s soul, Sarton speaks candidly about everything from how a single image opened the door to writing about her mother to the importance of transparency in art and life. She shares insights into her very personal art, including the unusual people and events that provide inspiration, how creativity can grow out of pain, solitude as a two-edged sword, the difficulties of being a female poet, and the ways love can open “the door into one’s own secret and . . . frightening real self.”
Featuring sections entitled “On Inner Space,” “On Nature,” and “On Love,” this revealing volume is also about the need go on, even when up against overwhelming odds. May Sarton: A Self-Portrait pays tribute to an artist’s vision and serves as a revealing window into a fascinating life.
"More than kisses," John Donne wrote, "letters mingle souls." And very few letters can have been more open, more anxious to mingle, than those of May Sarton's. Her carefully crafted volumes of poetry, the novels elegant with insistent intent, the autobiographical works of later years are all rich with the intellect sentience. However, the wide-ranging emotional journey of these letters, so admirably edited by Sherman, may finally bring Sarton the wider renown she always felt eluded her. An ardent correspondent since childhood, Sarton is free in in her declarations of love and longings, her revelations of urgencies to earn a living and uncertainties of life as a writer. The letters include Sarton's feelings about current issues; her wartime fears for the Europe where she was born; her anguish over love affairs gone awry; her dogmatic views; her illnesses, as well as what some recipients felt to be a claustrophobic demanding love. Long letters to the international group of writers, artists, political and scientific thinkers whom Sarton included in her epistolary "festival of friends," are often so utterly candid as to be overwhelming, exhausting. One artist and lifelong friend noted that a letter from Sarton was "a bloodrush," that he needed to "take to a private place and savour it alone, like a wonderful meal." Yet in her craft Sarton was aware of the need to be sparing in written thought: "Poetry is not an orchid, but a crocus. Simplicity is the essence of poetry." Sarton may have devoted most of her life to her crocuses, but this final collection is a different though equally beautiful greenhouse of orchids.