February 19, 2020

I’ve been called a witch
A bitch,
A spoiled brat,
A no good god damn
son of a bitch,
A jerk,
An idiot,
A smart ass
A stupid ass,
A wimp,
A loser,
A dummy,
A fatso,
A delinquent,
A burden,
A cunt,
A nag
And that was just
by my family
I’ve been called
Bright, but inattentive,
Creative, but dreamy
Special, in a bad way
No wonder I didn’t do
well in school
I’ve been called
Beached whale,
Fat girl,
Fat bitch,
Fat fuck,
Fat thing,
Blubber belly,
I’ve been hit upside the head,
Spat upon,
Laughed at
All in the name of status quo
I’ve been called
A Jersey girl,
A pothead,
A co-ed,
A weirdo,
An enigma,
“The girl with the
translucent skin”,
An angry feminist,
A poser,
A fag hag,
A man hater,
A slut,
A drunkard,
A sexual dynamo,
A shifty bisexual,
A bitter chick full of
personal diatribes,
A performance artist
I’ve been called a stupid white girl,
A silly white girl,
A fat-assed white bitch,
White trash,
A Jewish American Princess,
An Italian American Princess,
An incompetent, lazy bimbo
I’ve been called a demented
Anne Sexton
A female Charles Bukowski
And the Susan Lucci of Poetry Slam
I’ve been
Put on a pedestal,
Knocked down into a box fit for a
veal calf
And as I tried to get up someone
stepped on my head
I’ve felt the electricity of standing before
2,000 people
And the shock of a lover’s hand
whipping across my face
I’ve been wanted,
And devastated,
Sometimes all in the same day
I’ve sat in the corner
Of a Howard Johnsons motel room in
Middletown, New Jersey
And in the backroom at Roxy
As friends performed tasks that would
alter their lives
I’ve seen brilliant friend mopping up
floors, wiping the mouths of trust fund
babies, and doing so much goddamn
coke, all wondering; “When is my life
going to start.” I hold the mirror up
to my own face, so close I could look
straight up my nose to my brain pumping
out blood and ideas, constantly swimming
in the confusion of not knowing what to call myself

Cheryl B

We mostly understand ourselves through an endless series of stories told to ourselves by ourselves and others. The so-called facts of our individual words are highly coloured and arbitrary, facts that fit whatever fiction we have chosen to believe in. It is necessary to have a story, an alibi that gets us through the day, but what happens when the story becomes scripture? When we can no longer recognize anything outside our own reality?

We have to be careful not to live in a state of constant self-censorship, where whatever conflicts with our world view is dismissed or diluted until it ceases to be a bother. Struggling against the limitations we place on our minds is our own imaginative capacity, a recognition of an inner life often at odds with the internal figuring’s we spend so much energy supporting.

Jeanette Winterson
Art Objects: Essays on Ecstasy and Effrontery

Dispel every other thought

February 19, 2020

You are about to begin reading Italo Calvino’s new novel, If on a winter’s night a traveller. Relax. Concentrate. Dispel every other thought. Let the world around you fade. Best to close the door; the TV is always on in the next room. Tell the others right away, “No, I don’t want to watch TV!” Raise your voice – they won’t hear you otherwise – “I’m reading! I don’t want to be disturbed!” Maybe they haven’t heard you, with all that racket; speak louder, yell: “I’m beginning to read Italo Calvino’s new novel!” Or if you prefer, don’t say anything; just hope they’ll leave you alone

Italo Calvino
If on a Winter’s Night a Traveller

If on a winter’s night a traveller is a meditation on reading, but it also deals with writing and writers. I’ve never understood why writers who write on writing get charged with creative onanism when artists are allowed to paint themselves until the Rembrandts come home or a work like Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra – music about music, right? – is fine with everyone.

David Mitchell
Enter The Maze