Thursday, 3 November 2011

Yonic monologue

Catharsis implies an outlet. It entails the expression of emotions which we can't release through a 'normal' medium. If I disagree with my boss and opt to express my frustration through a terse verse on the subject it is cathartic. But why do I choose catharsis via poetry?

To express oneself through an alternative medium smacks of passive aggression. It speaks to a reluctance to grapple with a subject head on, rather approaching it from a sheltered position, surrounded by aesthetic reasoning. This distance from the immediacy of the emotion allows it to ferment. We may wallow in the molten emotions, teasing the idea into something pointed, something sharp enough to cut. Emotions honed through catharsis are second hand but no less striking: they are twisted, the shaft of the arrow is barbed, the point tipped with poison.

Sex, in one form or another, makes its way into my writing on a regular basis. It's not the honest sex of erotic fiction but sly sex, an immigrant sex, smuggled in among a truck load of picturesque metaphors. It is this element of my writing which has been called cathartic. I write about my biology, my frustration and my fears, that which is sometimes called 'indelicate'. I write it because I think it but am unable to say it except in specific prescribed circumstances: behind a microphone. I have tried performing my poems for family members on a one to one basis. I think I'm correct in saying it wasn't a comfortable experience for either of us.

Poet. Writer. Performer. These labels have power. They permit me to express my thoughts in relative safety. My poetry seems to be a direct response to the cultural restrictions I perceive about me. I could choose to discuss nasal sex, autoerotic asphyxiation, or assisted masturbation in everyday conversation. I could make the filthy remarks that lurk on the tip of my tongue as they occur to me. Perhaps I should. But that would detract from the cathartic effect.

They say art flourishes under restriction. Maybe we are all mental masochists. The tension of repression followed by the thrill of expressing the taboo is a high I've been chasing since the first time I described my period to a boy at high school.

What is catharsis? Catharsis is my cocaine and I won't be quitting any time soon.


Anonymous said...

Good stuff.

Ashley R Lister said...

Has there really been a sex reference in one of your poems? Which one?


Great post.

And I think 'One two. One two.' deserved its success in the recent Litfest slam.


Lindsay said...

I bet that boy at high school's face was a picture. I have always viewed passive aggressiveness as destructive and negative though, this seems to be a way of turning negative emotions into something so very positive, far from the cowardly nastiness and game playing I associate with it. Keep turning that which narks you into these nuggets of creativity though, the world is far better for it. Excellent post.

vicky ellis said...

Lindsay, that boy is now a very happily gay man. I know it's nothing to do with me but it still makes me smile to think on it. True story :)

vicky ellis said...

This post implies that a) I described my period to more than one boy at school. I learned my lesson after the first. It was also the last.
b) That I associate immigrants with slyness. This is not the case. I don't believe in borders. I think anyone should be able to travel anywhere at any time and settle there. With the possible exception of Adam Boulton from Sky News :)