Putting together a one-woman show was really just an experiment to see if I could do it. I had my recent Lispa training and the help of a Tom Waits obsession behind me; the writing came easily and I had tons of images to play with. At least a third of the show was written during a drama therapy and somatic healing retreat in Berlin, and I think that accounts for a lot of the weirdness in ‘Frontal Lobotomy.’ I am forever grateful that my intuition led me towards a book titled ‘The Body Keeps the Score’ by Bessel Van Der Kolk during one of the research stages of that show. A seemingly haphazard course of events, chance meetings, lucky breaks, random conversations and salvaged pieces of costume created that show. And I had proven to myself that I could do it.
I began writing ‘Testy Manifesto’ in early 2019. I had just escaped an abusive relationship and was literally going out of my mind. By May of that year I had finished eight poems, and knew that one day there would be enough for another show. It was very painful the first time I read them in public, though no one would’ve been able to tell. I think only two of those poems made it into the final version. I had to dig deep to make ‘Testy Manifesto’, and I’m proud, so proud that I was able to take an ugly, devastating experience, and distil it into a beautiful and healing piece of live art.
I now find myself on the precipice of writing a third solo show, and (probably) the final one I will perform as Jeu Jeu la Foille. And I’m asking whether I can write without the help of Tom Waits or PTSD. I’ve found it very difficult to write for the past year, and I’m trying all sorts of methods to loosen up the creative gravel. I’ve performed in two plays recently, that were written by local writers, and it’s been liberating to interpret characters that are out of my comfort zone. I am singing in a women’s choir in the woods most Sundays, and I’m learning all sorts about costume in my new job. I’m sure that everything will align eventually and the words and images will come.
I’ve done a couple of performances of ‘Testy Manifesto’ and ‘Frontal Lobotomy’ for local poetry nights this year, but have decided to not go on tour with either of them again this summer. I want a proper holiday! I’ve been learning French for the past three years, and want to just chuck myself in the deep end with the language. Maybe I will understand Jeu Jeu better in her motherland. Anything is worth a shot at this stage; so I’m going to Avignon, via Paris and Colmar in search of my clown kin.
A couple of summers ago I was up in Yorkshire, having a bit of a creative retreat at my friend’s farm, and they had a book called ‘How to Grow Your Own Poem.’ I leafed through it and made a note of a few of the exercises. One of them suggested taking your existing poems, google translating them into other languages, and then back into English. A few weeks ago I did this with the whole of ‘Testy Manifesto’ and I used the following languages; Polish, Hebrew, Basque, Klingon, Korean, Icelandic, Cantonese, Amharic, Hungarian, Gujarati, Finnish, Inutikut, Hatian Creole, Malayalam and Tibetan. I then selected my favourite lines, and edited, and re-edited. I ended up with this:
I'm going to tell you what it all means
I'm not going to let anyone win
We're going to keep the secret before we get it.
I don't want the justice I want.
But I promise you, yes.
It won't hurt you either.
But I have a sling. A lot of jealousy. You'll get used to it.
When it's all said and done, look at what's in your mind
No, this is not a riddle, it is completely simple.
I don't know why you're so nervous
A copy of satire
It's more curious, of course.
Their bones surround and blow away the thin ones.
Your heart gives a slow signal of help
White light and freckles.
Your true hidden face, little by little deleted
Its smell expels blood-stained sheets
You trusted it
The darkness in that pit
Absorbs all life
I refuse to forgive
I need these rules
Bubbles break and opinions are sad
The lines wither like a net around me
Pathetic shouting, I'm having trouble breathing
Contractual instruments, recalibrated rules
I'll lie more when you follow me.
Jealousy sucks and whispers at speed
Did your students spell horror?
Play a torn timeline of constant pain?
There is peace in memory today
A few lines can be cut before mastering them
And although verbal snares are rare
You knew it would excite me, I almost answered
I'll let go of joy not having anything to say to you
Sticky liars, the net slacks
My friend said to go out ... examine
It's terrible... Throw something at him ... Keys, plates, cats, meows
Crying all day... Emotional woman ... Never have I ever hit you ... You provoked me ... I'm on drugs...
I'm sorry... I need medication... I need medication to relieve my pain ...
Knock on her door ... Knock, knock more than once next time
You can tear the barrier
Exposed wires you see
May stab, cut, or impact
If she ties a string to the wheel.
Glass or sharp edges
Puncture of the lungs you can poke in the eye.
It lacks the fat the body needs to have a cycle, and she has trouble holding her head.
Now, it's clear that she's also a whore.
Laugh it out in a deep place
Crying out of his liquid intake
Their eyes flow and run
Feet Are Hard and Not Running
False calf rests on weak ankle
Crooked teeth held by fake weapons
The lungs surrounding a large tail
It has an irrefutable object
Animated anime appears in a smoke breath
Slope on thin ice, weapons defensively
The dark era was not allowed to be in dark era.
Those who have specimens of things that have specimened and only by no means, almost certain conditions for the surface of the unfortunate constitutional power of things.
But there were no speeches of his hands, and the general utterance of his hands, and then there was a speech from the speech.
No shape of love.
Life- oriented, life-oriented, pro-life
I have no other option, I don't have the courage
So the concept begins life
We live in the first place.
A narrow path that flows along the edge
It resonates wherever you go.
We've always had some trouble.
The gap that divides the houses has been closing for years
A slab of a collapsing staircase was replaced.
Pet bones are slowly sinking
This is the place where we can escape.
When the cry becomes too loud
Hand over the rod of blame
The sound slowed down.
The leafy avenues were piled high with corpses, the streets turned into streams of blood.
Paris twitches her sleeves, saying, please believe me.
What a desire you have to dig your fingers into the bark of Paris.
Fear fades, anger passes, and grief is buried beneath it.
Wheels and wheels and wheels
Final inventory deduction
I'm studying holes
Shortness of breath
You can look for a little bit
But maybe you're not as bad as you are.
I know that we can get this road back to the road
Climbing mountain climbing
I can't breathe
I'm still here if I don't speak
My heart is sad for good reason
I don't want to say
But I knew it all
The mouth of the cave is small, non-talking, unspoken and angry.
It's still wild, wild and elegant, and there are three people living in the cave.
Initially shrouded in haze, then shaped into a white rose, petals dried slightly and her stumps broken.
The legs were fragrant.
There was a flash, a crazy bravery that removed their inertness and allowed them to move.
The winds lifted them up and the rubber flashed, until all three of them were on fire..
They went down like milk, and they were cold as they walked.
It’s pretty terrifying, and I love it.
If there are any poets reading this, can I please urge you to translate one of your pieces into Klingon and see what happens?!
Happy teenage birthday to me,
Love JJlF xx
Photo by RKP at The Art House, February 2023