Saturday, 15 July 2017

treasure: writing from when I was learning to write

A collection of notebooks left carefully in storage was recently returned to me, including a workbook from a creative writing subject I took in Semester 1, 2006. I thought it would be cringy and pretentious but I actually don't hate Past Helen's work. Thought I'd share.

A self portrait, 7 March 2006

a cactus and prickles
body full of smooth pebbles
head's got two bricks in it keep grating together
in cotton wool (and snot and nausea)
just a little bit like a hidden corner
eyes rolling over each other not working together
marbles make a heavy forehead greasy lips
clunk clunk 2 year old playing piano
the slow drip of glue without a lid on
limbs held together by rubber bands and prayers
edges of the smile flattened down by the weight of tired cheeks
lips full of lies
unpolished eyes

a body and a self almost less than the next self
achy doughy weighted
head out from and observing body
see the way my thighs cling together
for emotional support.

Monday, 15 May 2017

secret: the feelings we feel when we're not feeling feelings

do not for one second think I am not
collecting, categorising and filing away
each word you say to me.
each second of eye contact sits
in a file
in my heart
for me to feast upon
during extended periods of absence.

do not for one small moment
believe your jokes and slips of the tongue
(see: there; another one)
are not painstakingly checked over
and inspected for tone
do not fool yourself that I do not know
what you're doing, or
what I'm doing
that it goes nowhere
that our truths are different.

do not for one brief instant
allow yourself to entertain the notion
that I am yours. Not any more than
   you are mine, but
somehow you are - your words and looks
and breaths are my private collection
forgotten in 12 months, or never.

secret: a poem for this week, and this heavy weight

suddenly, the world is so small
& it's quiet
   like living alone is quiet
   like being nobody at all
      can get very quiet

when somebody made you
almost with bare hands
when you were clay
& you're shaped in their image
despite absences & gaps?
I cannot imagine. The words
   slow me down,
because I love you & somehow, still
leave absences & gaps of my own
when I wish that this whole time
since we started
I'd been more.
suddenly, now is the time to be more.

secret: on worshipping, idols, and teen girl obsessions

A little more than a year ago, I saw Miranda July and Carrie Brownstein at the All About Women festival at the Sydney Opera House. I wrote about it.

I don’t know what you call it when you’re not a teenage girl anymore, but you see artists you admire, who have made you feel something, somehow, and your heart gets full. what’s that called? because I am 30 years old and I have lived and breathed some years in the world, paying tax and driving to work for 9am starts, I have realised some things about how humans are and how systems work and what parts of these systems can be made to work for me and what parts just suck.

but I can sit 3rd row from the front of a talk at 10:30am, and listen and listen and feel like I’m remembering things I’d forgotten about how I’m meant to live and be and work and make and do, and my heart gets fuller and fuller and I start to know myself for sure again, and I just refuse to call that simple inspiration; I can feel it, I can feel something the same way that dancing and wine and skies full of moon and stars make my heart pound right up to bursting. I can feel like this feeling is falling in love the way I’d thought perhaps I never would (love always seems to be so practical and awful even when it’s lovely) and possibly I never will, not with a human, not quite in the open way I fall in love with everything when I am reminded of myself.

That feeling of all things being not only true but truly possible: that’s the feeling we could aim for when we work with others to pull forth their full potential. I can’t see any harm in wanting to fill rooms of people with excitement over everything they might do with their lives, and everything they might look like. There’s a rush of creating and of making that does not have to be boxed into the arts on their own. It could be about anything, a drive to make people feel that feeling.

It could be about making people laugh. Laughter means a lot of different things. It means happiness and it means amusement and it means relief; it might meant surprise, the shock of a penny dropping where you and me are all ok just the way we are, and we already know we are powerful and have everything to offer.

Being engaged as a member of an audience is a treasure to behold, and it is never really just about being able to recite lessons back or checking a box or a follow-up test. Leading is showing people how to care in a way that moves us along; that helps us to tread the earth in a confident forward motion. Working and not caring seems such a waste.

Imagine being the kind of person who inspired the feeling Miranda July inspired in me in the Sydney Opera House on Sunday morning: I walked out of there knowing that I was right to think I could do better than I have been; that what I have to give, once I roll it out flat and name its parts and sort it out so other people know where to put it or want to roll their own selves out flat alongside, that what I have to give is every bit as good as I already know it is.