The Poet Reflects on the Writing Process
They ask me how I write and I don’t
write, I mean, I write, but there isn’t a how now--
it’s an unhinging, tide before bomb, it’s wrong,
it’s wrong, it’s wrong to say these sorts of things,
ask me about interests, ask me about hobbies,
things that detract and distract from excess and unplanned,
understand, I’m a liar when I lie and a lion when I snarl,
marl layer after layer after layer, grow a soundscape to rescrape
what got through—the process? Pen. Paper. Pen. Paper. Paper. Paper. Pen.
And then, we step off white-chip ledge, a pledge is a promise
made on your feet and under your wallet, walls come up, the floor breathes
in and out, in and out, and out and out and out and back into breaking,
they come down as cardboard cut-outs, climb paper as lemurs covered in pus,
you must understand, I’m a man, then I’m not, page starts to rot, then the shift
sets in, it writes me, writes me, write what you know, goes to show I’m not a poet,
but a buffer, watch me spin while it loads and unloads and loads fracture-crack
flashbacks and self-induced cataracts catching the upturned phonics of chronic illness,
there’s a pill for this or that, a stitch for scalp and skin, it’s in, it’s in, it’s in me now,
father, son, and holy shit I get it, forget it, revisit what it’s like to crawl around the lines
or what it’s like for vowels to sound anxious, it’s not antiquated to speak of a muse
when you refuse to live in the label that they give you, I’m a schizo, a schizo,
a need to know basis, laces removed at the corner-front desk, confess in the booth,
here’s a tooth, fetch a fairy or two, the twoness, that’s the real trouble in a way,
the poem wants to say and unsay and the man wants to say and say and say, slip
cold fingers over shutting mouth, stifle intention, retention, declension, protention,
we extend and recede as water in reeds and catch sun in pieces of glass, so ask, so ask,
“What made you want to be a writer?” And you know and you know and you know by
now that the question is coming and coming and running toward the lip of your tongue,
you’re undone, you’re undone, you’re undone—
to be one,
and I run
About The Author: Jake Bailey
Jake Bailey is a schizotypal confessionalist in Antioch University Los Angeles’ MFA program and the co-editor of poetry for Lunch Ticket. He has published or forthcoming work in Parentheses Journal, FlyPaper Magazine, The Laurel Review, Pidgeonholes, formercactus, The Hellebore, Barren Magazine, and elsewhere
a project by Caroline Burrows
Who am I? - I'm a woman, a mother, a child abuse survivor (but I make a face as I type that because it does not define me). I'm a recent Social Sciences graduate and I live in Brighton. I'm 48 which always genuinely surprises me as I really haven't finished being 20 yet.
In 'see me hide' I attempt to illustrate my ongoing exploration of the adverse effects of complex childhood trauma on my adult relationships and interactions. It's a series of self portraits in which I am often naked, sometimes blurred and occasionally bleeding, but always hiding who I am, while imploring the viewer to really see me. I'm asking, and I really do want to know: What is it like to be seen? What is it like to be heard?
What is it like to be seen? What is it like to be heard?
Mental Health, my own mental health, is vital to me. "Mental Health" is very difficult to define however. I firmly believe that there is no such thing as "normal", which makes the concepts of illness and wellness entirely subjective. There seem to be clearly defined symptoms of mental illness, but no clear benchmarks for mental wellness. I think that people need to get to know themselves to be able to know what is well for them and what is unwell, but that level of self awareness takes a great deal of work, and I wonder if anyone ever really attains it.
I've always been interested in photography but I never knew enough about how to make a camera work for me until I was given my first fully manual mirrorless camera two years ago. Since then my interest has developed into a passion. I've always looked to see if I recognize myself in photographs that other people have taken of me, and in my own self portraiture I'm still looking for a me that I recognize. Even though I'm often naked in my self portraits in 'see me hide' I don't find them nearly as revealing or as exposing or as raw as the words I've written to accompany them.
If you had one message for our readers, what would it be?
A message for Peculiars readers - I would say don't carry other people's shame for them. It's heavy and it's cumbersome and it will burden you and you don't need to because it really really isn't yours.
Any inspirations to share?
Francesca Woodman. I love her work and her humour and her cynicism and her use of herself as a model, not as self portraits as such but as the subject (or object) in her photographs. I'm inspired by artists who work in self portraiture or who use themselves as models for their pictures, and who use that approach to explore or express who they are and how they see the world. Robert Mapplethorpe for the way that his photographs are beautiful but push boundaries and push viewers and push norms. I love the way that Vivien Maier just got on with taking photographs for herself throughout her life, without receiving any recognition while she was taking them or while she was alive. I found Anja Niemi's project 'She Could have been a Cowboy' very inspiring, in which she dresses up as both a woman trapped at home in a pink dress and the cowboy that she dreams of being, capturing for me the juxtaposition between conforming to other people's expectations and the freedom of being who you know yourself to be. I fell for Munch's depiction of Puberty and stared at it for what felt like ages, feeling once again the awkwardness of being a teenage girl, how it felt to be becoming sexually attractive and simultaneously incredibly self conscious, and marveling at the way he captured it, as if he knew. I also love the incredibly beautiful darkness in Francis Bacon's work.
Writers who inspire me are too numerous to list here, but I've loved Thomas Hardy and the characters in his novels since I studied his work as a teenager. I've loved Tom Robbins for nearly as long and have devoured every novel he's written. Also Will Self, Jonathan Franzen, Toni Morrison, Kate Atkinson, Arundhati Roy, Martin Amis. My favourite book is The Bone People by Keri Hulme, and my copy of that novel is one of my most important possessions.
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Caroline is a self taught photographer and was born in Oxford. She have lived in Brighton in the UK since 1989.
Find Caroline's entire project over here.
PC: Caro Sanguinetti
All I'm looking for is a ceremony
“A miracle isn’t a miracle without sacrifice”
- Paige Lewis
A disability aesthetic, you ask. The temporarily-abled (TA) attempt to delineate one for us, where life in pain is unsustainable, that self-selecting eugenics is a private eugenics. There is no reproductive justice that does
not center how to live cared for, by the state, by a network of interdependence and monies allocated for caretaking, the feminized labor of paying attention to needs, anticipating pain or hunger or the need for a
I want my grief to be transcendent: somehow worse than yours, more of a shredding sensation, the sharper form of pain than I am willing to admit, and that this almost invisible wrenching bracketed sawhorse that I strap to my back and do not loose for anything,
Between desire and the edge of motion, the crimp of arousal, the slip that I allow, an urgence, the note I leave behind
[There is something awesome about longing]
I have to leave my psychiatrist. She’s a Sagittarius; she gets me. She’s graduating from her residency program. and starting a new job working with Native folks on medication management. In our final appointment, I have to sign paperwork detailing our treatment plan: “reduce anxiety by 50%,” it says. Quantification did my feelings, my trauma. I start to cry talking about my pain, about feeling so drained trying on new doctors like shoes. I wail, I don’t want a new psychiatrist. I wipe tears down my cheeks in little rivers. I say, I don’t want to start from nothing, to have to justify how my politics are a huge part of how I think about my illnesses, staying well, wanting to feel ok instead of like I’m dying of constant pain.
These are inextricable: my body is a signifier, and my fragmented postmodern subject reveals itself in my medical records, sporadic; disjointed; contradictory. For my native-New Yorker millennial psychiatrist, I am funny, resilient, intelligent; my Boomer evangelical anti-feminist doctor marked me down as non-compliant.
In Sick, Porochista Khakpour details her abundance of medical consults. Advice pours in, and Sontag urges us to resist metaphor, but if I have to splice chunks of myself off to survive the onslaught of abled people recommending fasts, yoga studios, cleanse programs in Bali, hiking, naturalism, reiki, essential oils, eradicating mold, getting more sleep, schema therapy, Rolfing, stevia supplements, running, going vegan, stretching, breathwork, CBD, magnesium, visiting a chiropractor...
How can I avoid the metaphor of exhaustion?
About The Author: Jesse Rice-Evans
Jesse Rice-Evans (she/her/hers) is a white neuroqueer femme and Southern poet based in NYC (unceded Lenape territory) studying chronic pain rhetorics and femme internet relationships. Read her work in Hematopoiesis, Peach Mag, glittermob, and Nat. Brut, among others, and in her forthcoming debut collection, The Uninhabitable (2019), from Sibling Rivalry Press.