It was my intention to write a book that got away from the confessional, to be one of those poets that does interesting work around data and process. In the initial meeting with Tom (Chivers) I spoke about wanting to transcend my kookiness– whatever that means. Why should people care about all that? Personality driven […]
When I watch other poets, or read their work it is always the bits that are sort of personal and hurty that appeal to me the most. I read this poem by Huw Lawrence recently called Bypassed and these lines sum up what I mean:
You get there through St. Clairs
where my father gives me crisps
and leaves me standing too long
outside the pub
I want to know the secret things, but I know a lot of people don’t. My attempts at using language in a new way went astray when my Mum died while I was writing the book. But really, the book is not all about that. I think it is about modern life in general, and how it bullies you. Mum was bullied her whole life by convention, status and expectation.
In some ways this makes it a political book. Being a woman, being a person. Trying to do the things that you’re supposed to do, on a larger level than just getting married and having kids- though that is in there too. Is it even possible to be ‘bohemian’ anymore? I don’t have a mortgage or a ‘real job’ and I am a single mum but I still have to fight different types of conformity- having an identity on the internet for instance, the constructs put forward by the media, being a ‘poet’. Even by writing this I am policing myself, trying to call myself or my work something.
It would be nice to think you can get away from these things. By being honest I think you can get some of the way there. In The Story of No, the poem ‘End’ for example is a sort of anti-status- the opposite of what I would post about myself on Facebook. Depression, or however you think of it, the reality of the everyday, my failures.
Perhaps it is unwise to think you can attain a state of Zen through exploration of difficult subjects, using something as useless and slippery as language, but I still think the best way to silence something is to expose it for what it is. There are many different ways of doing this with poetry which is why I like it so much. And although I set out to write a different type of book, I am glad this one got written. I am also the boy eating crisps outside that pub, and I would like Huw Lawrence to know it. Love and common experience are the things that will save us- they exist outside any kind of regulated space.