03 August 2004

We're all survivors, right? (a rant and poem all in one post, you lucky, lucky people!)

One of the things that bugs me about poetry, and actually art in general in the public arena, is the focus on minorities. There is an abudance of groups and readings and festivals all dedicated to gays or lesbians or black people or even just to women, and they all have their cross to bare, right? and they want us to focus on these terrible things that have happened to them and listen to their poetry and look at their paintings or films and, even if they're utter shite, go "Oh wow, well done." Like all art is good for is the highlighting of social ills in a PC, good for the community, kinda way. As if all they are are victims and cripples that must be mollycoddled lest we seem insensitive.

The reason this is on my mind right now is because I was just checking out Jackie Hagan's website. Now, I've heard stuff about her through both Matt and Helen, both in a verbal face to face way, and via their blogs, but I've only just tonight followed a link to her site.

Basically, she's a poet and a (possibly former, is not entirely clear) lesbian, with pink hair, who is kinda big in the manchester poetry scene, so I'm told.

And the site looks fucking awful and is on geocities but nobody is perfect and I was really interested in her poetry anyway which was kinda cool and interesting but somewhat familiar.

and then I noticed all the stuff she's involved with, being a busy busy community type poet it would seem, including alot of work with minority groups, especially this one survivors group. Looks as if they're looking to put a book of their poetry out.

And then the rant that appears earlier in this post bubbled up into my head, but in a much more extended fashion, and I got kind of angry and thought to myself "But we're all fucking survivors to a certain extent." and then I made a list in my head of all the ways in which I'm a minority or a survivor.

  • I'm Dyspraxic

  • I suffered a massive head injury when I was 14

  • I'm left handed

  • Have been different all my life, and was suitably punished, but didn't start celebrating my otherness untill I was about 16

  • I have no front teeth

  • I have long hair

  • and this list is getting more and more tenuous

but I don't look at any of these things as making me a minority or a survivor or a victim. Sure, school really really sucked, but I've found my feet now. The head injury fucked me up good and proper, but that's part of me and I wouldn't give it up for the world. The Dyspraxia... Is an on going problem that will stay with me until I die, no doubt, but oh well. And the rest? Well psssh to them.

Anyway, here's a poem. A really obvious poem. It tells a bit of the head injury story and makes a point, which is kinda lame in my eyes, me thinking poetry should be about visceral/emotional things that don't neccersarily have a point to them.

we're all survivors, right?

When I was 14 I was hit by a truck
and was in a coma for three days
and pushed my top front teeth
through my bottom lip
as my face hit the road
and when they let me out of the hospital
I had to learn to walk again
and spent quite a while in a wheel chair
with small wheels
so I couldn't really push myself
and it took me a while to figure out how to get up the stairs on my own
realising that my legs really didn't work
and masturbation felt weird
and took me a week before I could even climax
but I smile when I look back
at the 6 months of school I missed.

I remember what I thought was a dream
but was actually me in a hopital bed
fucked off my face on morphine
with these tubes sticking into me
and this taste in my mouth
like copper or nitrogen
and my mum watching over me
looking so old
like a wax doll

It was so surreal;
two kids from my class
who I wouldn't call friends
but who I did hang out with
came around my house
with a card
signed by everyone
even though
I had no friends
not really
and were so fucking nice
even though one of them had called me "nigger lips" once
(because my bottom lip is kinda big
and this was north yorkshire, so a little backwards,
with a distinct lack of black kids to kick the shit out of him)
and the other was just a tear-away
with the same name as me.

When I got back to school
(after those blissful 6 months)
the niceness continued
and everybody was so glad to have me there
because I had nearly died
and they knew me
and people don't handle death well
even the deaths of people
you don't really know

and the teachers loved the new me;
I put my hand up in class
and I actually contributed
and talked to people
and they told my mum how great it was
and she told them they didn't know what I was like at home.

Of course, after a while, when they realised
the massive head injury had turned me into a bit
of a troublemaking bastard
they weren't so happy
when I picked fights
and called kids mothers sluts to piss them off
and got chased all around the school
hiding in the special ed room
sticking my tongue out
at my pursuers over the teachers shoulder
and skipping lessons
causing trouble in art class
talking back to the teacher
telling him that if god had intended us to write lines
we would of been born with pencils on our fingers
and generally being a bit of a cunt
they didn't like it then
and would bring it up with my mother.
and she just said "I told you so."

there is so much more to this story
that I'm not going to go into
because it would take far too long
and is probably a novel or something.

so, anyway, shit happens
and now it's 7 years later
and they haven't been easy
for a number of reasons
but I ain't complaining, not about that,
Cuz, fuck me, you know what I've realised?
That going through life
with nothing traumatic happening to you
is like living your entire existence
inside museum
everything behind glass
and catalogued
and fosillised
and dead.
So be thankful for your scars
emotional or otherwise
because it could be worse
and if you've gotten this far in life
with nothing traumatic happening to you
don't worry
it will
(because these things happen)
and if it doesn't
You have my condolences.