The Inscrutable Tragedy of Reetika Vazirani

Longreads

Why did a talented, generous, brilliant poet destroy herself and the person she loved most in the world?

We are fascinated and horrified by the myth of the suicidal poet(ess). Dangerously, we tend to romanticize these women in order to make sense of their lives (and deaths).

At the Washington Post Magazine, Paula Span writes carefully about Reetika Vazirani’s life, drawing from her letters, her poetry and her friends’ testimonies. In doing so, Span delves into the financial, societal and emotional struggles of the contemporary artist.

When Reetika’s friends offered help—to visit her, to pay for therapy or medication:

Reetika would shrug, decline, offer excuses, simply melt away, or leave subsequent upbeat phone messages without providing a number to call back. Or she’d go off to Callaloo or Bennington and be her usual dazzling, spirited self, so that friends who had worried would relax: She was okay; they could back off.

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