I Don’t Stand on Stage Because I Know How to be Brave, But Because I Got Tired of Being Afraid

There are these moments on stage where I have to close my eyes for a second and summon the courage to keep going.

Being vulnerable isn’t something that comes easily to me; sharing so much of myself with a room full of people I have just met.

Offering the things I am sometimes still scared of: my brokenness, my failures, my ugliness, my fragility, the messiest versions of who I have been and often still am.

It can be daunting, and terrifying, and sometimes more than I feel able to do.

I don’t stand on stage to perform; but to tell stories.

To share of blood shed on the battlefields of my healing and knees still scraped from the crawl and how I am made of wounds but still standing and how every scar etched on my skin reminds me what a goddamn warrior I am to have made it this far.

I don’t stand on stage to be set apart by a mic, but to be drawn together because of it.

To practice courage, knowing when I do, it offers that same courage to others. It gives permission. It creates space. It allows authenticity. It brings belonging and intimacy to a world overfed on information yet starved of connection.

I don’t stand on stage because I know how to be brave, but because I got tired of being afraid.

Our stories are our history. Our legacy. Our humanity. Our connection.

They matter.

Sharing them requires the courage to be vulnerable.

But what makes us most vulnerable is where we become most beautiful.

“The speaking will get easier. And you will find you have fallen in love with your own vision, which you may never have realised you had. And you will lose some friends and lovers and realise you don’t miss them. And new ones will find you and cherish you. And at last you’ll know with surpassing certainty that only one thing is more frightening than speaking your truth. And that is not speaking.” – Audre Lorde

Photo credit: Brendan Bonsack

Day Sixteen and Seventeen #PoemADayFeb – Cusp and Unveil


And this is where we will meet;
this place in-between, where
we will shed our clothes and
watch all we have been fall to
the floor; unspoken promise
heavy beneath our tongue.
Your lips will taste of warm soil,
my skin of summer rain;
tear-stained earth, sweat-stained
sheets, thirst-stained promise.
We will write new stories on each
other’s bodies, volumes of words
we have longed to say, but couldn’t –
unveiling flesh, unveiling desire.
Yes, this is where we will meet,
my love, on the cusp of what
we once were, eager hands
grasping for what we now become.

© Kathy Parker 2019

Day Sixteen and Seventeen #PoemADayFeb – Cusp and Unveil (missed yesterday so throwing two in for today!)

Day Thirteen #PoemADayFeb – Change

IMG_7549.jpg
I tell him I will write a poem where the letters of his name
are woven through every line; that I will not place him
in the spaces between, where I hide meaning inside
of metaphor.
I do not tell him of the way this terrifies me; to write
of such pure things, as friendship, as him,
when my native tongue is fluent in the language
of sorrow,
and his name does not belong in such dark places.
Someone once said all you need is twenty seconds of
insane courage for something great to happen
and it made me think of coins in the air;
the way we hold a lifetime of hope inside our lungs
as fate is decided, except it’s probably not a lifetime,
or even twenty seconds, but is courage just the same.
Snowboarding while listening to My Chemical Romance,
he tweets, and I have listened to them on repeat
for an entire year and I want to grab hold of this moment
of kinship
but there are wounds on my fingers still trying to heal and
bloodstains never looked good on new beginnings
and I still have not told him
how he was my twenty seconds that day;
how we spend our lives afraid
to throw our coins in the air; so unsure which way
they will fall, until we soon become tired of pockets full
of loose change weighing us down.

© Kathy Parker 2019

Day Thirteen #PoemADayFeb – Change

Day Eleven #PoemADayFeb – First

alone-bampw-black-black-and-white-Favim.com-580179.jpg
I lost my voice when I was seven;
buried in an unmarked grave
where all untold stories go to die.
I learned it’s quite a skill to hold
a lifetime of words beneath your tongue
and not choke on the debris of letters
that fester in the back of your throat;
to swallow truth like a hungry dog with
bared teeth;
willing another to not come close enough
to taste such foul feast upon their lips.
It turns out there is no minute of silence
for silence;
no funeral for people to dress in black
and eat jelly cakes
and cluck tongues over the tragic loss
of life taken too soon.
Innocence taken too soon.
There is only the sound of applause; let a
woman learn silently with all submissiveness.
I am thirty-four when I find my voice again,
yet it is not the first time I speak
which brings me to my knees,
but the first time I am heard.

© Kathy Parker 2019

Day Eleven #PoemADayFeb – First

Day Four #PoemADayFeb – Inside

I turned my heart inside out;

delicate, handle with care.

(as if you ever read labels)

(as if you ever read me)

Day Four #PoemADayFeb – Inside

Day Three #PoemADayFeb – Beginning

Alone-sad-girl-whatsapp-dp.png
And this is what we’re left with,
but then, we never were complete –
only ever broken halves of a whole;
pages half open, clothes half open,
half-finished wine, half-begun touch.
A goodbye disguised as a tomorrow
we knew was not ours to believe in.
I write stories about leaving lovers,
you, about being left. The ocean still
longs for the shoreline even though
she knows if one thing does not end,
another cannot begin.

© Kathy Parker 2019

Day Three #PoemADayFeb – Beginning

#PoemADayFeb Prompts Are Here!

#PoemADayFeb people, here are your prompts!

We’ve put together 30, even though there’s only 28 days in Feb – feel free to write a couple extra, or if you are totally stuck on a prompt swap it over with one of the spare ones.

Some of the prompts are (form)s – this just means it’s a particular style of poetry form as a prompt rather than a subject prompt, and can be easily googled for the structure of those forms.

Don’t forget to use the hashtag if you want to share your poems, otherwise feel free to play along at home if you’d rather not – the point is to get writing and have fun.

So get your creative minds thinking, and we’ll see you here tomorrow, ready to smash out 28 days of poetry!

#PoemADayFeb Is BACK!

Hey! So, this time last year I paired up with fellow poetry peeps Laura Greaves and Paul Kohn to commit ourselves to writing a poem every single day in February – and thus, #poemadayfeb was launched.

Though crazy hard some days to keep up, we had a blast doing it and loved seeing so many others get on board, so have decided to run it again this year!

This isn’t about having to produce perfect work, it isn’t even about having to call yourself a poet, it’s simply about putting pen to paper and writing for the love of it, sparking some creativity and having some fun.

Personally for me, I have a fairly hectic Feb coming up, so I’ll be endeavouring to post a poem here every day but am also realistic enough to know some days this may not happen – again, it’s not about having to do this perfectly, just about jumping in and doing what you can.

Prompts will be posted tomorrow and we kick off on Friday – would love for you to join us, either Facebook or Instagram (or both) all you need to do is follow along with the #poemadayfeb hashtag, and make sure you add it to your posts.

Hope you can join us!

How Clickbait Killed The Creative Muse

UnknownToday I sat down and tried to write an article. It didn’t happen. This seems to be a regular occurrence of late, and while I can easily justify any number of reasons for it, the reality is, right now, I just have no desire to write an article.

There are many factors behind creative burnout – pressure, deadlines, expectation, exhaustion, perfectionism, the need to create with purpose rather than with joy, just to name a few. And while I can relate to all of these on some level, my current burnout can be summed up with one thing: I have simply lost heart.

I’ve considered the reasons for this of late as I’ve been journeying through this parched creative desert. For a brief moment, I contemplated the idea that staying up too late watching reruns of Grey’s Anatomy and drinking cheap red wine may be a factor but soon dissed this idea. Was it the busy demands of life with four children and a farm that has left little time and energy to write? Possibly. And yet, even with that I’ve always managed to carve out sacred and much-loved moments of creativity.

I made a cup of tea this afternoon and scrolled through various news feeds in search of well written, beautifully crafted articles that would inspire me. Instead, I was assailed with articles such as these: Want to Know His Penis Size? Look at His Fingers! 7 Best BDSM Sex Positions To Make Submissive Women Orgasm, What A Woman’s Chin Says About Her Sex Drive, 2 HELLA-HOT Sex Tips That’ll Make Your Man Crave Your Vagina, 10 Harsh Truths Your Husband’s Prostitute Wants You To Know, Is Anal The New Black?, 7 Ways To Make Him Want You For More Than Just Sex, Foods Your Man Should Avoid If He Wants A Blowjob Tonight – not to mention countless articles that informed me of how I will die, the type of man I should marry, how much sex I should be having, the type of orgasm I should be having, and what I should eat for dinner tonight, all based on my zodiac. Which, thank God for those or I might well have not had enough or too much sex this week and mistakenly eaten fish instead of steak tonight. Whew.

I sat and read the titles of these articles, and even dared to open a few of them hoping I was being all super Judgey McJudgerson and they actually contained quality writing. But the more I read, the more despair heaved itself upon me. That’s when I felt it. This is why I have lost heart. These are articles with hundreds of thousands of likes, comments, shares. These are articles I am forced to compete with, that I will never be able to. I don’t even want to.

Recently a well reputed magazine put a call out for two sex diaries that could be written about the fact that (a) you’re cheating, or (b) you’re into something kinky, with a note saying they want to know ALL the sordid, juicy details. What astounded me most about this call out was the rate of pay. It’s difficult for a freelance writer to be offered compensation in anything other than exposure, which, while all writers love trying to pay their weekly bills and child’s education in exposure, just doesn’t quite cut it all the time. At best, most writers are lucky to receive $20, $50, $100 per article that may have a required word length of 800-1500 words.

Yet here is a magazine offering $420 for 600 words. At that rate of pay, even I was tempted. In fact, I began to mentally compose some make-believe trash tale about doing something kinky while cheating in the hope that they’d offer to pay me $840 for covering both bases at once. I could even write it anonymously if I wanted to – oh what a delicious sell-out I could be just for once to make a decent income from an article.

This is what we as writers’ face when we sit at our desk. To want to write with meaning, with heart, with integrity; yet to do so means our voices will rarely be heard above the clatter and clang of garbage that is being dumped upon the busy superhighway of information where there is little interest to pick through our integrity with so much other unsavoury trash on the ground.

Part of my requirement as a writer is to spend numerous hours each week creating, building and nurturing my social media platform. And while I understand and agree with the necessity of this in our social media driven world, it’s time spent replying to comments, messages and emails at the expense of time I would rather use to write. I love my social media tribe and am thankful for their love and support, without them I wouldn’t be here, but lately I struggle with the motivation to spend time building numbers when I can’t help but wonder if all the numbers in the world even matter when they are unlikely to amount to actual readers because the titles of my articles don’t mention Sex, Orgasm, Blowjob, Vibrator, or How to Make Your Man Go Down on You in Three Easy Steps. As useful as that information may be. And while I believe good writing should confront and challenge the reader, there’s a difference between being prodded a little outside your comfort zone and having to double check that you didn’t just click a link to some amateur how-to porn site.

Last year I spoke at our local school during Literacy Week. My talk was based around this quote from the movie, Dead Poets Society, “No matter what anybody tells you, words and ideas can change the world.” I told those students these things: write about what matters, write with passion, and make your words count. That every word we write, we send into the world like a stone cast upon water; we have the power to create ripples that can either harm or heal, mend or break, sow love or sow hate. We have the power to change. To change minds, to change hearts. To change future generations. This is not just our privilege, this is our responsibility, and yet we prostitute ourselves for the sake of goddamn clickbait and our perverted, narcissistic fetish for numbers.

Maybe I sound like a jaded writer. Maybe I am one. Or maybe I’m just burnt out. Maybe I’m just tired of being part of a minority of writers who care. Who bust themselves to write with integrity and to maintain a standard of literature in our society. Who write with passion, with meaning, with desire for words to connect, for words to be music to the silent soul, to be the balm that heals the wounded, to pour light and warmth into the darkest corners, to bring change, to make a difference, to matter, only for those words to remain unseen, unheard, unnoticed.

Maybe I’ll just stop caring and stay off social media and go back to writing in journals that are kept in shoe boxes under the bed and hope one day when I’m no longer of this world someone will read those journals and think, huh, she had some good shit to say.

Or maybe I’ll just begin to speak a little louder from now on and pray one day my words will create a ripple strong enough that it will somehow change the world.

Charcoal Hearts

charcoal.jpg

I am bruised shades
Of dark grey and black
Like a charcoal drawing
I smear and I smudge
Outside of the lines
They draw around me
Your fingers touch me
And I stain their beauty
“I’m sorry,” I whisper
As I wash the blemish
From your pure hands
With my broken tears
“Stop,” you murmur
As you pull me closer
Your skin now tainted
With the same shade
Of darkness as on me
We are wondrous art
Stained upon canvas
My burden now yours
Your heart now mine.

~ @ Kathy Parker ~

Image courtesy gofigurative.com