The Disappearance of Rosemary Tonks
By: Jones Irwin
All that daring and they killed her
Exchanging her self-ironising contempt for their disdain
A harlot in an open dressing gown incapable of shame
But who decided that? I see her
Extra modest in her wedding dress
At the Jardin de Luxembourg in Paris
In a cross-legged photo with a friend in 1948, Mrs Trent
Like some saint whose only blasphemy
Is beauty and poise beyond her contemporaries
She was incriminated by her verse
And what it revealed of her unconscious
A woman too, of course,
Jones Irwin is Associate Professor in Philosophy and Education at Dublin City University, Republic of Ireland. He has published widely in philosophy and aesthetics and his forthcoming book is on existential themes as they have emerged during the pandemic. He has published fiction and poetry across a wide variety of journals including most recently Poetry London, Plainsongs, Critical Read, The Dewdrop and The Festival Review.
"The poem 'The Disappearance of Rosemary Tonks' plays on the ambiguity of a female poet being 'disappeared' by an archly male audience of poets and critics in the 1960s, as well as her own chosen self-disappearance and renunciation of her poetic work in the 1970s. Much as her literary hero Arthur Rimbaud, Tonks appears both inspired and subsequently revulsed by her extraordinary muse although the poem also grapples with the destructive impact of a disdainful audience who 'incriminate' this brave yet vulnerable female artist."