This past Christmas, my mom, also a writer and a poet, gave me a book entitled Fragments: Poems, Intimate Notes, Letters by Marilyn Monroe (ed. Stanley Buchthal and Bernard Comment 2012). As you, my gracious readers, most likely can tell, I’m a big fan of this icon. To receive a book containing her thoughts, her art, her-self was like being handed a treasure chest I had only seen in picture books. I’m a poet too, with an MFA in Poetry. I’d like to say I know a good poem when I see one (its my terminal/graduate degree after all!), but with poetry, it’s always to each his own. However, I’m going to go ahead and say, Marilyn Monroe is a damned and talented poet. Her words carry you to a special, sometimes dark corner of the mind, just as Sylvia Plath does.
There’s an eerie quality to the book which compares to Kurt Cobain’s published journals. You are riveted, entranced, eager, awakened; at the same time, you feel guilty, disconnected, left out. After all, she did not share these thoughts and geniuses with you. You were, in fact, never her best friend. She never gave you permission to read this.
I tell myself, and I really do believe this: There is an irony in the publication of her words. The irony is that while she was alive many attempted to control her mind, to project her as simple minded and as a sex object, yet Monroe, after life, proves herself to be more intellectual, complex and timeless than her colleagues ever were or could be. Throughout the book, she deems herself unworthy of being described as an intellectual, worthy of only self-suppressing and taking on the roles offered to her. However, throughout her life she strived to enrich her mind, her education, her language, but she did so privately. It was all stuffed into notebooks in her apartments. I think that if the great Marilyn Monroe knew (or perhaps knows) that we are reading her words, respecting them as art, as challenging literature, she would be even more pleased, proud and content than she ever was on a red carpet. These are her words, not a script’s, not Arthur Miller’s. Hers.
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