blue butterfly – give into love, or live in fear

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Something I have realised from my experiences with the world, is that there are many ways to love. You can love some-one, or some-thing. Even if it’s a person, there is friend-love, family-love, love-love, but even love-love isn’t as black and white as it is sometimes portrayed. One is not simply “in love” or “not in love”, and it certainly is never as easy as a Facebook relationship status.

I have felt many different types of romantic love over the years. Some love is beyond all definition, and yet others make you feel as though you could burst with expression. For example, I have loved with every fiber of my being. I have loved until my chest felt as though it were to collapse in on me, to the point where it defies logic and reasoning. I have loved so passionately that I can scarcely breathe. I have loved so passionately that it haunts my soul.

On another note, I have also loved in tandem. I have felt quite literally as though I have another half. I have loved with full commitment to a union, a partnership, though don’t mistake this as a love without feeling. This love is matched with unquestioning loyalty, and met with definitive contentment. It is, ultimately, a marriage of souls.

Many people often ask “how many times have you been in love?” but that question is far too shallow. Love can be fleeting, and also everlasting, in many, many forms. I’ve learnt to never correlate quality and quantity when it comes to love. Many people spend years in a loveless marriage, and yet memories of passionate flings can last a lifetime.

Ultimately, I’ve learnt that no one can ever tell you how to love, or what kind of love matters, because all love matters, and it only matters to you.

Being Privileged,

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One of the many books I’ve been trying to read at the moment is We Need To Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver. It’s a fantastic book, and every word is important, which is why it’s taking me so long to read it. A few weeks ago I came across this quote in the book about McDonald’s Appie Pies.

“Just because there are lots of them doesn’t mean that it isn’t a privilege to live in a time when you can buy them for 99¢.”

It really got me thinking. So many people having this romanticized nostalgia of the “olden days” where everything was simple. They are convinced that we’ve made “society too difficult for us to cope with” and I’m not sure how I feel about that.

Firstly, I find that the latter quote comes in conjunction with mental illness, something I’ve been struggling with myself. That kind of attitude, in my opinion, is denying humans any intelligence at all. Yes, we were cave men, and if we were a cave man with an ailment – be it physical or mental – we would be dead. An advanced world is giving us the opportunity to have really great lives. Ailments are common with everybody – the human psyche isn’t perfect and neither is the world we live in, that much is true. But isn’t it better to know that due to evolution you’re a privileged human being, and if you choose to, you can work towards a better world for the generations to come.

How lucky am I to fire up my computer and talk face to face with somebody from another country, or step outside my front door and be greeted by someone who has an entirely different culture to me. I can learn from them, speak with them and be educated without having to leave my street. Years ago, you would have to fly to another country but not everyone is blessed with funds to do so. Isn’t it great that we can share those experiences despite our financial standing? I can eat foods from another country in a restaurant down the road from me, and to top it all off, how lucky am I to live in a country where people want to come and build their lives? I am lucky to be a citizen of the United Kingdom. I am privileged and I am happy about it.

I fully understand that this may not be everyone’s opinion but please respect the fact that it is mine. 

What is poetry?

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I was plagued by this question for two years of English Literature A-Level. What is poetry? We studied John Donne, Phillip Larkin, Dannie Absie, who were all well respected and good poets, but I still didn’t have a grasp on the definition.

We studied sonnets, a Shakespearean sonnet, an epic, an ode, probably more than I can remember. Each type of poem had a different form, a template almost, that the writer had to stick to. It sounded like hard work. But most of all, I never understood what the poets were trying to say. The idea of dressing something up with words to allude to an image or symbol completely confused me. Why couldn’t they just say what they mean and get on with it?

I know that many people who read poetry, or are forced to read it through school, have the same view. There is a notion that once you’re forced to do something, the willingness to actually do it decreases. For example, I love books, but if I’m told I HAVE to read a book for a certain reason, I end up feeling as though I’d rather be doing something else.

In theory, poetry should be a popular medium. It’s (sometimes) a short snap shot of a moment, a feeling, or even an image, so it’s great for someone like me with a short attention span. So why do so many people turn against it?

When I was accepted onto a bachelors degree in Creative Writing, I hadn’t given poetry a second thought. I always wanted to write books, even though my writing interest was originally sparked by theater. My goal always was (and still is) to write a book. I want to write a book that I am happy with in its final form, so aspirations for poetry never entered my head. Then, I had a compulsory module named Poetry and Poetic Expression. My heart sank a little, but I spoke to other students on the course and they agreed that they felt the same about poetry. They couldn’t understand it.

It was all the same until I spoke to two dear friends of mine from the course, Laura and Sam. The both of them had been writing poetry before the degree and considered it their niche. They understood the mindset, but found poetry spoke to them. I envied them both because I wanted poetry to speak to me too.

‘You just need to open yourself up to it,’ Laura said. And when I disclosed my fears, Sam said something I will remember for the rest of my life:

‘But Clare darling, poetry can be anything.’

I went into that poetry module with a different perspective. I felt elated and free. Something I have always had trouble deal with was the feeling of being wrong, and I use that term in the most broadest of meanings. But how could I be wrong in poetry if poetry could be anything?

I threw myself into my work. I explored many different forms like haikus, beat poetry and free verse, as well as revisiting the old classics. I wrote from other poet’s examples, and even constructed my own poem inspired by John Cooper Clark’s Evidently Chickentown. Swearing over and over again only made me feel even more liberated, and I was able to construct a poetic rant about a guy who had done me wrong. I could tie all of my feelings up in a few well crafted verses. It was like therapy. Once the words were down on the page I felt as though the weight of the problem was lifted.

My poetry lecturer was already a well respected poet in his own right, and his knowledge and blunt, honest nature gave me the ability to tackle poetry in the right way. He didn’t sugar coat it. He believed in it and therefore so did I.

I found poetry at the right time in my life. Shortly after I completed the module and a portfolio of experimental work, I ended a relationship. They say people come in and out of your life, but all of them are there for a reason. I had nothing to turn to except for my ever increasing love and dependency on words, and I delved back into poetry to ease my pain. Losing people unwillingly is hard enough to cope with, but sometimes I feel people actively walking out on you, and abandoning your connection and foundations, is harder.

I wrote solidly for the whole summer, and came out with not only some of the best poems I’ve ever created but a novel idea as well. It seemed poetry was supporting me in all of my goals. From that collection, Miss Stress, The Sea and Cemetry Gates were ones I felt I could share with people. Not only was I writing poetry but I was starting to become proud of my own creations. If you had told me at the beginning of 2012 that not only was I writing poetry seriously but it was giving me confidence like never before, I would have laughed in your face.

Now, I consider myself a performance poet, as I’ve combined my love of poetry with my passion for theater. I’ve been published, which is more than any poet could ask for, and on the 7th April 2014 I’ve been given a half an hour slot at the Theater Royal Winchester to present my work. I couldn’t imagine a better way to end my three year degree.

So when people ask me “what is poetry?” I ask them the same question back, “what is poetry to you?” They usually smile and shrug and ask me again. So I tell them. Poetry is life-changing.

The art of chilling out.

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crisis definition

Having an existential crisis does not mean putting your head between your legs. It also does not mean breathing heavily into a brown paper bag. It does, however, mean that a certain amount of your thought process goes into thinking, wondering, and wishing.

I’m doing a bachelor degree in Creative Writing, and I’m about to become a graduate. The weeks are counting down as the word count on my dissertation goes up, and it’s safe to say I’m not enjoying it. In fact, I don’t actually know many people who are enjoying it.

Currently I’m sitting in the university library, surrounded by stressed third years sweating over a mountain of job applications, dissertation chapters and academic diaries. Scribble, strike, repeat. Scribble, strike, repeat. Highlight. Highlight. Scrunch. Throw. I’m sure the library staff are sick of seeing it. In fact, they’re probably placing bets on who is going to burst into tears first.

I’m sure there is at least one person reading this who has graduated, and you might say it’s not as bad we’re making it out. But let me tell you: Yes it is. Shut up.

I’m joking. You’re right obviously. All of this worry and stress does nothing except worry and stress us out more. Eventually we forget that although we need to work hard during the final push, we should also be celebrating. Sticking at something for three years, in times of great uncertainty and doubt, is a great achievement. Throughout the arguments with housemates and bad assessment grades, hopefully all of us will agree that it was completely worth it.

Cue cheesy, feel good, mantra: The end doesn’t always mean the end, it’s the beginning of a new chapter.

So upon leaving university, you’re expected to know what you want to do with your life, right? Wrong. No one knows. I guarantee that many people who have graduated end up down a completely different career path to the one they set out for themselves. Not from being misguided but because things change, life changes, people change.

Nobody expects you in the beginning of your twenties to have it all planned out. Take opportunities, have new experiences, meet new people and build a life for yourself.

So what am I going to do? Hand me the paper bag, please.

But really. I know I want to work in publishing and literary agency, and I have the rest of my life to do that so why not enjoy the journey getting there. It look me a good four months because I snapped out of my existential crisis and realised that actually it didn’t matter what I thought now, because that might change in a few months time. I might decide I want to become a heavyweight champion of the world by March.

Unlikely, because that involves going to the gym, but an example none the less!

So here is my advice to you, graduates of the world, who like me sweated and stressed over scribbled on bits of paper: chill out.