Monday, 30 March 2009

I Bask In Dreams of Suicide

Throughout my life and like quite a few other people, words have been my only real solace alongside music. These are both my undying, ferverent passions that will never subside.

I've only kept a diary in the traditional sense for one year of my life. It turned out to also be the worst year of my life. Since then, my outlet for thoughts are usually writings of this nature as well as creative poetry and prose. I first wrote poetry aged around 8 and made a regular habit of it since the age of 13. I was also heavily into spoken word and began to read my poems in public until 2005, when I was meant to read my poetry at Patti Smith's Meltdown Festival but freaked out when I saw her in the audience and read 'Dulce Et Decorum Est' by Wilfred Owen instead. Although I don't do spoken word anymore, I continue to write poems on a very regular basis.

It wasn't until I discovered confessional poets such as Anne Sexton and Sylvia Plath that I realised that you could confess extremely personal thoughts and emotions and it was wholly acceptable to do so. Until I had read the works of such poets, I felt truly ashamed about my writings and inner thoughts and buried them away with scars that I never wanted to reveal.

I came across a very interesting article today from which the title of this blog is derived. It is an academic essay on women, poetry and mental illness entitled, 'I Bask in Dreams of Suicide: Mental Illness, Poetry, and Women' written by Kaufman and Baer. You can read the article here:

I find this premise interesting. Did the article make me self-diagnose myself as one of these mentally ill female poets? No. It is a very easy assumption to make that you should believe everything that you read and in particular, construe words to make sense when applied to your life. Yes, poetry and writing has been a constant in my life that helps soothe worries and emotions but I don't know if I write because I am mentally ill. I don't know what being mentally ill is. Perhaps I have gone through life without it being diagnosed or perhaps I am just someone who loves literature and language too much that it must be a staple part of my daily lifestyle. Who knows.

I shall leave you with a poem by Anne Sexton. Make of it what you will.

Buying the Whore

You are the roast beef I have purchased
and I stuff you with my very own onion.

You are a boat I have rented by the hour
and I steer you with my rage until you run aground.

You are a glass that I have paid to shatter
and I swallow the pieces down with my spit.

You are the grate I warm my trembling hands on,
searing the flesh until it's nice and juicy.

You stink like my Mama under your bra
and I vomit into your hand like a jackpot
its cold hard quarters.

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