Friday, 22 January 2010

Changes Happen, As Promised

So, no sooner do I throw open the field to suggestions for new blog titles than I wake, at 6am yesterday morning, drag myself out of bed, brush my teeth, apply my cleanser, my toner, my spf-15 moisturiser and my eye-reviving stick when I'm suddenly struck, quite unbidden, by the thought that 'Wrestling Emily Dickinson' would be a pretty good new name for the Fishblog.

It isn't Dada. There's logic behind it: a while ago,on Twitter, I found myself holding forth on what, I think, is my central dilemma as a poet: on the one hand I feel strongly about a great many things, and wish to write about them and share those thoughts with others, but, on the other hand, as a perennial piece of childhood bully-bait who in consequence developed masses of low self-esteem, I find this duty constantly at war with my urge to 'do an Emily', retire from the literary fray and hide away from it all, writing purely for posthumous publication if any. If I'm to stand any chance of saying what I want to, though, I have to overcome my inner Emily, and that's the force that I wrestle with here. The archetypal Emily Dickinson, the little voice that says don't go out there, it's scary... I certainly mean no violence to the real Ms D, who - as you can probably tell from the amount of time spent dwelling on her example - is kind of a poetry icon of mine.

There's also - from my perspective as a genderqueer individual - something quite delicious about the fact that this title also refers to that of the film Wrestling Ernest Hemingway. That's deliberate. I hate the cult of literary machismo which Papa Hemingway has, rightly or wrongly, came to embody, the idea that it's necessary for a male-assigned-at-birth (MAAB) writer to be tough, hard and two-fisted in order to be cool.

I'm not tough. I'm not hard. And, while I can definitely curl my girly little hands into fists, I'd hardly call them deadly weapons, no matter how much time I put it on the Wii Boxing. But y'know what? I have one weapon that, when it works right, is unstoppable. An ace-in-the-hole that can stop anyone in their tracks, knock the wind out of their sails and leave them reeling. That weapon is language, and it's powerful when I use it not to conform to other peoples' tired narratives, but when I use it to articulate my truth. Even if the responsibility of using language to tell that truth scares me.

My Inner Emily says: write, but don't share. Stay out of it. Don't get involved. But something else inside me looks around, looks at a world that still fails its most marginalised people on so many levels, looks at a world that punishes those that stand outside its carefully-policed boundaries and says: no. I have to get involved. Even if it does scare the shit out of me - which it does, on an almost-daily basis.

And so, perhaps against my better judgement, I fight my inner Emily, and I speak out.

All in all, then, it seems like a pretty good title.

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