Happiness Is A Warm Poetry Reading

Yesterday we had a birthday party for my dad, Jos, and I cooked veggie toad in the hole and the sticky toffee pudding of dreams on a hot summer day and we got sleepy and full. Lately I’ve felt so tired, the sun, anxiety, anti-psychotic medications, a head full of work, words that don’t fit.

This afternoon we drove into sunny Liverpool for Stinky Bear Press’s RWF/RAF pamphlet launch at the cool as fuck News from Nowhere bookshop (you can purchase it here):


The ever-brilliant Sarah Crewe (pictured below), Pascal O’Loughlin and Mendoza read a selection in the first half then into RWF/RAF in the second half, Sarah and Pascal stalking and slinking around the room, growling and pacing, Sarah barefoot and full of poise and grr and Pascal calmly but fiercely reading alongside; the pamphlet features texts inspired by Rainer Werner Fassbinder and Ulrike Meinhof and Mendoza introduced it: a.k.a The German Masterpiece! I loved the interplay, the atmosphere, the buzz, and the bookshop itself was the perfect venue. We drank wine and juice and read Zizek jokes and danced to samba music and talked and it was a lovely afternoon. To avoid turning to pumpkins we had to depart early and got starbucks coffee on the way home, happy and full of poems and hazelnut syrup.


Finding the time to write during the holidays is proving tricky. I keep getting up earlier than everyone else and gulping coffee and editing, and I find the morning is always the best time to write. I worked on a poem, Cobra, in the car on the way to and from Liverpool, a poem about the suffocating feelings I experience living with mental illness and how I often feel so restricted and limited. I often have a feeling like I might burst out of myself at any moment. I feel great pressure and frustration at the tiniest difficulty, I long to feel peace. I know others who feel this way and who I would like to help but I often feel very helpless to do so. I really want to go to the sea with Bobby and scream into the waves holding hands.We are all up against so much; sometimes I can see all of it all too well and all at once and I feel myself shrinking inside and the noise in my head roars!

It is wasn’t for poetry I wouldn’t function as I do. I would, as I know others would give up writing, my main focus in life, to experience a life without mental illness. But since I can’t erase it I have my writing and I need it and use it – a great weight lifts from me each time I write and say it in the way it’s meant. Many people are afraid to write bad work, and this is awful because we have to write bad poems, we absolutely must, we must write the worst to work towards our very best and must write every shade and colour in between. I don’t write reportage, I don’t write autobiographical prose, I write about my life, my world, my emotional life and everything I come into contact with but it is art, to me at least, and is honed, shaped and arranged in such a way that I have to be absolutely sure it delivers focused, beautiful language in a way I feel makes complete sense to me. It is a vocation, a profession, a calling, an addiction, a dependency – my writing – it is my life and I would not be able to live as functional a life as I do without it as my mind simply couldn’t process it all in any other way. When I don’t write I feel ill, I feel confused, spaced out, fragile, frustrated, irritable, wild sometimes, mad sometimes, and I can’t find the motivation for anything else I might enjoy. This may sound far fetched and a bit dramatic but I absolutely rely upon writing to survive. And in making the connection I make with my work with the outside, very real world, I feel real, and I feel alive. It’s essential to me that I keep this connection. A large part of my identity is my identity as a writer; my sense of identity and my own mythology is so tied up in my writing that to dislocate it would be to sever a connection I wouldn’t be able to survive without.

As the light fades in the evening I feel a sudden and overwhelming sadness. But today I felt connected, and I take that with me through to tomorrow.


2 thoughts on “Happiness Is A Warm Poetry Reading

  1. A wonderful point:

    “Many people are afraid to write bad work, and this is awful because we have to write bad poems, we absolutely must, we must write the worst to work towards our very best and must write every shade and colour in between.”

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