The podcast I spoke on in June (the one about Tom Waits) was released in August. I must’ve listened to the first of the three episodes about 20 times, hardly daring to believe that actual words were coming out of my mouth that I could actually hear. The second episode I probably had on three times, by the third time I think I had to stop it halfway through, as my Inner Shitty Committee was getting involved, telling me I was banging on about death too much. By the third episode I gave it a once over, decided that the entire time I was talking it was largely incomprehensible, and then got on with my life. I’m still glad I did it though. It was gloriously me.
In September my clothes came off on two occasions, for the final Barelesque and Naked Girls Reading. Both were tremendous in very different ways, for what those events and the people involved stand for, and what it meant to me to be able to take part.
I had a very comforting and useful conversation with a good friend a few days ago. I told her about the new show I was working on, that I had a whole load of poem words, but couldn’t think of any images to go with them, that I didn’t know how to guide the audience through a performance about domestic abuse, that I wanted the audience to ‘like’ it, whatever ‘it’ ended up being, because it might not be a performance, it might be a book, or a short film....She said that by ‘liking it’ I really meant ‘liking me.’ She said that it wasn’t up to me to curate or host the audience through their experience of me, but to turn up and be me, at least to begin with. There was a whole lot more to it that I’m still mulling over.
And I realised that I’d put in some good thinking and writing work into this new thing I’m working on, working title is ‘Jeu Jeu la Foille’s Testy Manifesto’, but I hadn’t done much of the actual physical work of learning lines and practising saying the words. I did an open mic performance at Poetry Platform last week, I felt hugely underprepared, and the room was full. I did the Barbie speech and two new poems. The feedback I pressed for afterwards was that I can let it breathe more, it felt too much like one big blurb. It was a shock to the system to be reading new words for an audience, my face felt like it was burning the minute I sat back down.
I agreed with the letting it breathe advice, and have decided to cut one of the poems from the Scratch performance I’ll be sharing for the first time at Cabaret Playroom next month. I’ll include the discarded for now poem at the end here. I’d been exploring feminine archetypes in my writing, and I wanted to write something from The Huntress, and I’d stumbled across a feminist re-telling of the stories about Jezebel from the Bible. I don’t mind the poem on the page, but I find it a bit icky to say out loud; the name Jezebel is very loaded for me.
And so I’ve made the decision to turn up as me, to this performance at the end of November. A polished and prepared version of me, who has learned her words and practised saying them out loud. Maybe she has been brave enough to ask someone else to read or hear her practising her words. She’ll listen intently to what they have to say, because she has very little else to go on at this time. And so what will happen is that Vicky will do all of the work, some of it while crying, and that Jeu Jeu will miraculously appear at the last minute, and take over.
I’m bringing all new poem words to Cabaret Playroom on November 28th at The Albany in Deptford, London. There are several other artists and groups performing all new work too, and its hosted by Tricity Vogue. It’s now six poems that I’ve settled on showing, and an odd lecture on Barbie. I think it is the best of the writing I’ve done, I’m oddly quite proud of it...even though it is angry and bitter in places, but I’ve written a kind of disclaimer into the first poem, I tell the
audience that ‘I haven’t chosen the easiest things to say, there isn’t an amicable way, but I promise you I’ll be ok. And so will you, no harm in peeking.’
And so I’m thinking of this performance like it’s the first window in a house I’m gradually building, and is forming all around me, but I can’t quite see it completed yet.
With much love,
Her laugh comes from a deep place
The belly heaves and sighs
Her cries outweigh her fluid intake
The eyes leak and run
She moves with hesitance and purpose
The feet are hard and wrung
Strong calves resting on weak ankles
Crooked teeth held by strong gums
Poisoned lungs surrounding a too big heart
She has an irrefutable aim
She animates the inanimate
But the circle is never quite complete
She appears in a puff of smoke
Skating on thin ice
Complete with a plume of feathers
Eyelids and nipples at the ready
She takes aim and bashes back
A canon fire of accusation
A roundabout of crown prosecution
A slide of reticent depression
A hand that guided sharp compressions
A brief brush with religious obsession
A long tussle with a previously learned lesson
She reclines precariously in a sliding window
And they call her Jezebel