“Being tender and open is beautiful. As a woman, I feel continually shhh’ed. Too sensitive. Too mushy. Too wishy washy. Blah blah. Don’t let someone steal your tenderness. Don’t allow the coldness and fear of others to tarnish your perfectly vulnerable beating heart. Nothing is more powerful than allowing yourself to truly be affected by things. Whether it’s a song, a stranger, a mountain, a rain drop, a tea kettle, an article, a sentence, a footstep, feel it all – look around you. All of this is for you. Take it and have gratitude. Give it and feel love.”—Zooey Deschanel (via ohfairies)
“Fashion is one of the very few forms of expression in which women have more freedom than men. And I don’t think it’s an accident that it’s typically seen as shallow, trivial, and vain. It is the height of irony that women are valued for our looks, encouraged to make ourselves beautiful and ornamental… and are then derided as shallow and vain for doing so. And it’s a subtle but definite form of sexism to take one of the few forms of expression where women have more freedom, and treat it as a form of expression that’s inherently superficial and trivial. Like it or not, fashion and style are primarily a women’s art form. And I think it gets treated as trivial because women get treated as trivial.”—Fashion is a Feminist Issue: Greta Christina (via spring1999)
Neil Rollinson- a celebration of Life, the Universe, and Sex
Neil Rollinson claims “Poetry is the new Rock ‘n’ Roll” and by the end of this reading I believed him. Rollinson told us he took up poetry to impress girls but quickly realised “your craft comes first- if you get the girl too, that’s a plus.” Rollinson sells to a cult following, has won prizes at; the UK National Poetry Competition, the Cholmondeley Award, and has been the Royal Literary Fund Fellow. He is known for his psycho-sexual and overtly erotic poems. Rollinson is heavily influenced by D. H. Lawrence’s poems, and has covered (and continues to do so) a diverse range of topics. He likes to write about matters of the human body (sex and death), specifically the “earthiness” of erotic scenarios, science (leaning more towards physics, interestingly, rather than biology), and most importantly or essentially, human life as an experience.
Rollinson’s most recent pamphlet, The Talking Dead, deals with themes in; memory, the passing of time, and death. There is a distinct and natural shift towards the concept of “the unknown”, including poems about the universe, and the afterlife. He says this is a natural progression for him and his work as he gets older.
Rollinson’s earlier collections have had a strong emphasis on sex. This includes the raw mechanics of sex described through innovative vehicles for larger metaphors (often this initial metaphor turns out to be another vehicle for the metaphor of sex). During the reading Rollinson read a satisfying fourteen poems. Pygmy, Christmas in Andalucía, My Wives, Like the Blowing of Bird’s Eggs, and two poems I didn’t catch the name of, (one was about having sex with his French tutor, and the other about spying on his neighbour’s daughter), were erotic poems. These poems are sensory and, to a certain extent, interactive. He is not afraid to refer to his sexual partners with the personal pronoun “you”, and does so fondly and unabashedly again and again. We become part of the poem in this way, part of his world he has created; whether that be him bursting an egg yolk over our genitals, or as a not so innocent bystander in one of his raunchy rooms.
Rollinson says writing in the first person is “mischievous, as it appears confessional” but it can be liberating. I wholeheartedly agree with this statement as I enjoy writing from other people’s perspectives and find it exciting to see how people respond to fictional yet feasible events and personas. It’s like dressing up in costume.
I found myself wondering as the reading progressed how and why Rollinson can write about and read sex with such ease. “The craft of speaking must be learnt” he says. Rollinson learnt from Matthew Sweeney on an Arvon course that shouting poems from the rafters of a barn helps a lot. An important point I took away from this reading was that it’s important to be out of your comfort zone, I am very aware that I need to continually challenge myself, and certainly to work on public delivery.
At the questions segment at the end of the reading Rollinson revealed himself as an “Atheist, definitely.” It could be argued that these highly sexual, intimate accounts of (for the best part) his, sexual encounters are a natural and ingrained rebellion against his strict Methodist parents that has stuck with him. Rollinson’s sex is; out of wedlock, unapproved by his parents, free. But, what is most important is that it is a celebration. This theme, though subtle, is apparent right through to his most recent work. “Champagne”, “fondles”, “smouldering”, “magic”, “explodes”, “drunk excitement” are just a few choice phrases and concrete nouns I noted in my margin during the reading. We are invited to revel in Rollinson’s revelations, to cheer along with him. Life is alright, isn’t it? In fact, if you listen to Rollinson, it’s rather wonderful.
Vesuvius is angry. She frowns down at us, burping fire from her hellish mouth. She is Christ’s wife, ready, burning, to avenge his life. She shoots spies; small clever flakes with fiery tails that settle. The spies are on all of us, a deadly blanket; on our smouldering rooftops, in the fields, and burying like worms into our skin.
She is everywhere, there is no escape.
Some said the spies will crawl up our noses and down our throats to squeeze our heavy hearts, suffocating us from the inside. I believed this, but as I sit here waiting for the end I realise their purpose is far worse. Scalding us, we must be punished for our wrongs. Let us be covered, let us be cooked from the inside. It’s time to face our fate.
There are two types of believers; the ones that think she will protect us, that this is our warning, that we must behave. Then there are the others, like me, who know it is simply too late.