As a child, one of the frequent punishments my mother would dish out was to take all paper and pens away from me. It’s not that I was a particularly bad child (although no angel either), more that she had a short temper and unrealistic standards; there were worse punishments, but I would always find myself lost when I was left without paper.
It’s a bit of a cliché, but it’s true – I’ve always written. The quality of the writing may be questionable at times, but poetry is how I work through what is happening in my life. The words sing out inside my head, playing within my brain until I get them down. My best and most prolific writing periods are whenever I’m in a state of rapturous happiness (or, to put it another way, getting laid and laid well) or in post-heartbreak wallowing.
My only brush with university life was in attending Victoria University’s Poetry Workshop paper – which was a brilliant struggle. Brilliant, in that every week I needed to arrive with a new piece of writing, and have it read and re-read and re-re-read; brilliant, in that I realised my writing strengths and weaknesses; a struggle, in being in a room filled with others poets who wrote in abstract concepts while I wrote about sex and desire and heartbreak (and used the f word a lot in my work). But I came out the better for it.
These days poetry falls into the cracks between my work as a naturopath and Pilates instructor and the 1074 other things I do (short attention span – hence poetry works for me, as I wouldn’t be able to stay focused long enough to write even a short story!). The words lose out more often than not in the juggling act, but when they come to me, they are glorious. I still have paper and pen on the floor beside my bed and tucked at the foot of the couch (the two main places I write). Life still makes more sense when there is a poem to help me process what I’m feeling. Life is always a bit saner when I’m happy enough or miserable enough to be writing…
My favourite place – Hmmm. Not so much a place as an experience – whenever I drive or fly back into Palmerston North, seeing the city’s lights spread out before me at night always makes me feel joy and makes my heart lift a little. They’re beautiful and they mean I’m home. And being able to see the mountains that wrap around Palmy always gives me a sense of calm and grounding – they even form part of the moko on my forearm, giving me strength when I need it.
And a poem —–
I spent months and
not writing anything,
came back into my life
just long enough
to provide me with the
that makes the words
that I feel sane