Some pieces which will be being turned into Postcards by The Horsfall to share across the city of Manchester during a time of isolation, because poetry shouldn’t be reserved for those with access to the internet or lots of books!
I didn’t end up blogging yesterday, but I think that’s ok when it’s because my evening was instead filled with lovely people and pizza and watching one of my favourite films (Pride!!! If you haven’t watched it you must). Today I thought I’d talk a little about ‘Between’, a collection of my poetry published in a zine by The Horsfall Gallery and 42nd Street Mcr. It also features cover art by the lovely Maddie Ismael.
It meant so much to be able to put this collection together, particularly as any money raised from people buying a copy go straight to finding the work that 42nd Street do. They do such amazing work and as an organisation mean so much to me – their support has helped shape the person I am today and I’m not sure where I’d be without them.
Whilst some of the pieces in the collection are also featured in The Trapped Mermaid, they all explore feeling kind of on the edge of things or between people and places and selves. It’s a collection of work written when I was trying to reconcile and figure out so much of myself and how I’ve changed. Pieces explore everything from falling in love with a city to how I feel about class and my relationship with myself and others. Some pieces were written before I’d ever shared any of my writing with anyone (and never quite expected to, as much as I wanted to) and it’s strange to see them end up in print for people to read – more so than when I self-published The Trapped Mermaid.
There’s the critical part of me that feels uncomfortable even briefly talking about creative projects and I think it’s a shame – I don’t know if I’ll ever quite feel like I deserve to take up creative space and I quietly let The Trapped Mermaid go out into the world without making a big deal out of it, despite the fact that it’s a collection that means so much to me. So this is a tentative little acknowledgement that I made a thing and that is something I should celebrate in itself.
If you’d like to pick up a copy, you can either message me or they’re on sale at The Horsfall Gallery in Ancoats.
When I first visited 42nd Street my expectations were low. After years of being dismissed by mental health professionals and having my feelings and experiences diminished, the idea of recovery wasn’t something that seemed attainable and therapy was something I was going to try without any kind of optimism. After completing a series of therapy sessions spanning much of 2018 it isn’t over exaggerating to say that 42nd Street saved and changed my life.
The therapy I received helped me feel heard, helped me understand my own thoughts and emotions and was the catalyst for a change in me that was acknowledged, not just in the sessions themselves, but by friends and family too. My therapist was everything you would hope for from someone you’re seeking help from and the rest of the staff were always kind and helpful too. 42nd Street do such vital work for young people in Manchester and I feel incredibly lucky to have benefited from their help. They offer individual and group therapy, run important and engaging groups like Make Our Rights Reality, have spent days creating poems with their poet in residence and are the kind of place I wish every young person had access to around the country. The varied types of support they offer combined with an emphasis upon creativity and a non clinical building tucked away in Ancoats, full of art and strings of bunting, makes it a truly special place.
Much of ‘The Trapped Mermaid’ was written whilst in therapy at 42nd Street and I’m positive I wouldn’t have ended up creating the collection at all had I not benefited so much from the support I received there – it is a place deeply intertwined with the period of my life that the collection covers. It seems fitting to share some of the money I make from the book with them, in the hopes that it can contribute towards their work in some small way.
‘The Trapped Mermaid’ can be purchased via Amazon.
“I feel as if I’m growing back into myself, filling out my body, shaking out my arms and legs and realising I still fit into this skin. And the lights in the bar we always drink at seem hazier as I wander by, wrapped up in a warm breeze from an earth that sometimes seems like it can be soft enough to look after me.”
A lil piece I wrote earlier this month that sums up how September has been. I’ve felt like I’ve been in control of my mental health far more than I have been in years. I had the last of my therapy sessions in an odd but wonderful little building in Ancoats. I hosted the first event for the collective I founded, Ignis – an evening of poetry in the park under golden sun and candle light. I started my third year of university, got my first week of going to 100% of my lectures and seminars, spoke in welcome week talks and got to start a module on my favourite poet. There’s been so much that felt impossible for so long, so much that felt like it was out of my grasp for good and so many parts of myself I’d forgotten even existed. It feels like a small miracle knowing I’m not just “getting through” each day. I’ve also begun work an exciting new project – another writing collection but without the self consciousness of the last…. “The Trapped Mermaid” is a collection of poetry, fragments and short stories, the cover of which you can find below.
Cover illustration by Jassi Ganacias.
It’s not been three months since the first few copies of a little pink book found their way into cardboard packaging, into postal vans, into different houses and different people’s hands. I let them out into the world with the knowledge of the fact that I’d outgrow the content – outgrow the desperate desire to quickly put something together that made the shit before it worth it, to make the fight to get past it all tangible. I’m not sure I anticipated that feeling coming around as quickly as it did. I haven’t dared glance through a copy. Can’t quite bring myself to want to edit everything with it, cut out most, fill the rest with new ideas and new pieces and new formats. But I’m working on accepting that that’s part of creation, that that’s a sign I’m doing things and working in the right direction – rather than floating through with a soothing idea of ‘one day’ getting around to something I’m relatively proud of. This blog has been stagnant, my willingness to try and create has been non-existent and the crippling insecurities have come back in full force. I’m trying to remember they’re likely always going to be present to some degree and that approval seeking is only worthwhile when it’s from myself.
“Burrowing and Burning is a little collection of poems. Or fragments. Or bleedings. Or something along those lines. Written without any immediate intention, scraps of days and feelings and moments that I eventually decided to combine in the hopes of creating something tangible from it all.”
When I made this blog I talked about my fear of creating things which would be dismissed as pretentious, about my fear of growing out of the things I’m currently thinking and feeling and saying. Those fears are something I’m particularly overwhelmed with right now, skimming through a copy of a collection of my own poetry. I’ve spent forever agonising over whether I want to share my work in a book, and particularly whether I should self-publish, always imagining some vague future version of myself who is self-assured and confident and able to do so in an unapologetic manner. I’m still sort of stuck in that stage of questioning and self doubt. But more importantly, there’s a part of me that isn’t. There’s a part of me that quite likes the idea of having created something out of the scraps of writing I’ve accumulated over time and there’s a part of me that isn’t self conscious about giving other people the opportunity to read it, too.
Burrowing and Burning will be available on Amazon in a week’s time.
Some words I wrote will be in this exhibition/anthology/spoken word event. Come read/listen.
I was supposed to upload this on your birthday. And it wasn’t that I forgot to think of you or even of this post. But just that little bits of life swept away the hours and I was content and not quite thinking about an app on my phone and a poem to post on a fitting day. And I think that’s better. Because that’s more like what you’d have wanted.
“We get off of the train, all red and windows and something comical. And suddenly the city is back inside me, heavy concentrate thickening up my veins, plucking at my chest. And there is a room and a light and a road and suddenly I want to whisper an apology to the girl who used to live there, the girl who tried her best to make a life out of the sickness in her stomach, the grey beneath her feet, the colours that could not quite distract. I want to tell her that I am sorry to have dismissed the ways in which she begged for survival…. I want to tell her that I am sorry I smothered her fight.”