“Some writers can handle lava with bare hands, but I’m not so tough, my skin is not asbestos. And in fact I have no interest in confession. My games are transformation and invention.” — Ursula K. Le Guin
I’m not so tough. It’s why I write fiction.
But when I feel a moment intensely, that experience is likely to birth a poem.
Poetry is my brain’s method of rendering sense from the incomprehensible. With such a glut of incomprehensible real-world issues and events of late, I have stained many pages in pained and unpretty ways.
And, in increasingly sadomasochistic acts of self-flagellation, I have started to fling these fiery globules of me into the world. I am always shocked when they are accepted. Maybe their appeal lies in the immediacy of their messages: I’m less into cloaked meanings, more into compacting the real.
Since May this year, my husband [aka “Reader Zero”] has followed each poem reading with: ‘Have you been channelling Kate again?’
Kate Tempest’s performance of ‘Progress’ on Q&A triggered some kind of cellular reaction in me. It was the same when I read Etgar Keret’s The Bus Driver Who Wanted to be God. I felt validated — for my art, my way — and I was compelled to act.
I may well have been channelling Kate when I signed up for my first slam in July, though I didn’t register it was a competition until the smiling doorperson talked me through the rules. ‘You’ll be fine,’ she said, and she gave my name to a hat.
I performed ‘Open Letter’* from memory and I didn’t place, but I didn’t bomb. Sharing the stage with other poets, far north of my comfort zone, was an excellent learning experience. With some space in between, I can even say it was cathartic.
Now you’ll find ‘Open Letter’ in print — with a swathe of beautiful and interesting word combinations from an amazing array of people that includes my talented little brother — in the latest MoTHER [has words…] zine.
You can order this cheeky little volume from here, and MoTHER is already taking submissions for the next issue.
A special thanks to Montikarus for the gentle push.
[feature image credit: cover art from MoTHER [has words…]]
*’Open Letter’ was penned as a response to global economics, creator value, and the Productivity Commission’s recent report, which threatens Australian author and publisher rights and incomes — all the more alarming when you consider that the average Australian author earns less than $13,000 per year from their published works. You still have time to use your voice against these strange and potentially damaging recommendations: https://www.change.org/p/scott-morrison-save-australian-literature-stop-parallel-importation-of-books/