Happy World Poetry Day ❤️

I have found truth lies in the spaces between the words, the cracks in the pavements we tiptoe over as if we are afraid of seven years bad luck, afraid to break our mother’s back

afraid of what honesty will do, or undo, in the lives we have so carefully swathed

with our own language so fluent in things of the weather.

Unspoken words get caught in our throat; we choke on their sharp edges

and spit them back onto our plates and instead satiate our fear of the silence with words

soaked in honey that are swallowed with ease; malnourishing ourselves

with empty calories and all the while wondering why we never feel complete.

I wonder if this is why some of us like to chew on metaphors; here we can taste truth

without saying truth, here we can walk on the cracks without falling through and I think

that’s the only way some of us will ever feel safe. Maybe that’s all our lives really are anyway; a metaphor, an analogy, a parable.

Maybe none of this is real, maybe we are all just the same stories spoken to new generations. Maybe we are nothing more than a social experiment, Big Brother,

watched and scored and already lost to government control and maybe freedom

is nothing more than illusion and the last person standing, wins.

Maybe you no longer love me.

Maybe we have come too unstuck to hold together anymore.

I look at you and want to speak these things out loud, I want to tell you

how I think I’m sinking into the deepest part of myself and can’t find the way out.

But your eyes are fixed on the afternoon sun as it comes through the window

that faces west towards the ocean so I watch fallen leaves scatter at the kiss of the wind

and hear the sound of the currawong calling in the distance. You note the shifting light; perhaps the change of season is close, you wonder, and I reply, perhaps it is.

#worldpoetryday <3

Summer Slam 2020 (and other stuff)

“So it is better to speak
remembering
we were never meant to survive.” ~ Audre Lorde

I’m pretty sure at the start of 2020 I wrote down my goals for the year and a weekly blog post was included in said goal, yet HERE WE ARE. First blog post, already one month into the year. Kicking goals, I tell you. Kicking. Goals.

Even this, I’m not sure I could classify as an actual blog post, but for the sake of quietening my inadequacies, let’s just call it that. Really, it’s just an update. BUT.  A very cool update to let you know last night I competed in the Spoken Word SA 2020 Summer Slam Final and WON. Which, for those of you who have followed my poetry slam journey, you’re probably there going, “Yay, she mustn’t have been drawn first!”

Well, I’m here to tell you I DID IN FACT get drawn first again because let’s face it – it’s still mebut in spite of the curse of being drawn first, I made it through to the second round, and from there overall winner. Was a fantastic night with wonderful people and incredible poetry and I’m so thankful for the opportunity to compete and to be on stage with 10 other incredible poets who all deserved to be there.

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I don’t know why I was looking at my feet.

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First, Second and Third

Anyway, really the purpose of this update blog, is to share one of the poems I performed last night for those who’ve been asking – Ode To Audre Lorde (A Litany For Survival), to honour the Melbourne women in 2019 who lost their lives to sexual violence 💔

Watch it HERE

and if you haven’t already subscribed to my YouTube channel then do so while you’re there!

Also this weekend I performed as a feature for The Good Word at Mixed Creative who have a regular monthly open mic night down at Port Adelaide – it’s been on my bucket list for a while now to get down that way for a look (among all the other spoken word gigs on my list to get to!) and didn’t disappoint. Quirky, fun, brilliant venue and wonderful people, well worth getting there for a look on a Friday night!

Which also means after two HUGE nights of performing (on top of 8 hours of driving for said performances) I’m wrecked. Time to pour a wine and call it a weekend.

Much love x

PS. I’ll be back with regular blog posts soon, I promise.

 

How Flattering Things Appear Under Soft Light

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We always meet beneath street lamps
how flattering things appear under soft light
you tell me I am beautiful under soft light
here, where the edges of my knife blade skin
are dulled beneath yellow hue
the way the city skyline reflects
in the cool steel of my limbs; lights
twinkling, dancing,
we are always dancing
around things we do not say
how flattering things appear under
soft light that veils the sharpness of my teeth
the bear claw trap inside my mouth
always set and ready to protect myself at the first rustle
of footsteps inside the forest of my healing and
you tell me I should be flattered
with this back-alley late-night soft-light love affair
do you remember when you said you preferred
my hair long; the way it fell like a sepia watercolour
around my face, disguised the hard edge of my jaw
the upward tilt of my chin; unyielding
how flattering I am to you when I am soft
beneath these blurred lights, blurred lines
bloodlines before me who traded the
full meal of their strength for a pill of submission
so they would become easier to swallow
and these lights appear so flattering when you do not
have to squint against the truth of who I am;
soft lights, often-lies we continue to tell ourselves
this appears so flattering until we are laid bare by the dawn
my eyes slowly adjusting to the illusion of how flattering
you first appeared to be under soft light.

© Kathy Parker 2019

On Burnout, Self-Care, Social Media And What I’ve Been Up To Lately

So, I realised it’s been aaaages since I’ve written a blog about where I’m at and what I’m up to, so thought I’d grab a few minutes now and do just that.

If I had to sum up my entire life in the last while, it would be with this one word: burnout.

Which is essentially why I’ve not written much, or been here much, or been on social media much of late – have needed to step back and catch my breath and get some perspective.

The biggest thing I’ve learned in the last while, is this: we are no less seasonal than nature.

It is imperative for us to surrender to our need for rest, stillness, non-productivity, recuperation, dormancy; essentially, we must allow ourselves a season of winter in order to grow and produce fruit in the spring.

I had a wonderfully busy six month period of poetry and performances and travelling and harvesting the many hours of unseen work that comes with being a spoken word performer; all the while continuing to write articles for 10 Daily, SA Life Magazine and other various platforms, writing flat out in February for #poemadayfeb, and trying to keep up with other life stuff, including the full-time job of raising four children.

Immediately after that busy period had finished, I wrote down my next set of goals and went about achieving them with barely a breath in between. Only to find I was struggling: with motivation, with enthusiasm, with creative energy, with feeling blocked and frustrated. I pushed through. Kept pushing. Got nowhere. Pushed harder. Struggled even more. Spent too much time on social media seeing everyone else kicking goals which spiralled me into a mindset of inadequacy and failure; eventually defeat. I was totally, totally ready to quit the writing thing and get a mindless 9-5’er where I would never have to look at a blank page again as long as I lived.

But then I read a couple of perfectly-timed articles, A New Way To Recover From Creative Burnout and You Are Doing Something Important When You Aren’t Doing Anything, both validating the importance of rest and recovery as a creative artist.

With that validation came permission to first accept I was suffering burnout, and secondly, surrender to it. For me, that has looked like much self-care: less writing and more reading, putting boundaries in place to protect my time and energy levels, early nights, staying off social media, good food and fresh air and sunshine and exercise , which is easy to do when you live in a place like this:

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I feel like social media especially places a huge amount of expectation for us to be seen to be achieving; to prove ourselves worthy occupants of our online place in the world. The pressure to produce regular content to grow our platforms is, I feel, one of the greatest blockers of creative energy. For writers especially, so much of our work is unseen and unmeasurable; the hours we spend planning and thinking and researching and dreaming and the fact that it literally took me ninety minutes to come up with one metaphor this week.

We are always achieving, we just don’t often have anything to show for that. So we find ourselves freaking out that we haven’t posted anything on Instagram for a few weeks and how many readers will lose interest and how many publishers will feel we aren’t engaged enough and HOW CAN I CALL MYSELF A WRITER WHEN I HAVE NOTHING TO SHOW FOR BEING A WRITER??!!

Anyway. Rant for another day. The point of this was to talk about what I’m currently up to.

So, my one major goal this year was to compete in the Australian Poetry Slam competition (preferably without woefully bombing out in the heats like I did last year), which I knew was going to be tough to write new material given my current state of burnout. In previous years, competitors have been able to use the one same poem throughout the entire competition – heats, state final, national final. So despite having such little creative energy, I knew I’d probably be able to pull off one good piece.

BUT THEN THEY CHANGED THE GODDAMN RULES.

Three poems are now required; a new one for each level of the competition. I don’t know how many of you have written slam poetry, but it’s hard. It’s fucking hard. So I read this, and cried. Literally sobbed. And threw some dramatics around just because that’s what we creative temperaments do. Sometimes. Often. Most days.

I seriously could not see for the life of me how on earth I could get three pieces written. Three winning pieces, at that, knowing how fierce the competition is. Again, I gave up. And then fell into the most depressed funk ever. Because sure, I might not get past the first heat anyway. I might mess it up like I did last year. I might never know what it feels like to win. But I sure as hell know what it feels like to give up. And the only thing worse than not winning, is not trying.

So, for the next couple of months, I’ll be around less. I’ll be writing more than ever, but will have little to show for that. I’ll be self-caring the hell out of myself to recover from burnout while I work hard to achieve the one goal that matters most to me. And I’ll be here as much as possible, soaking up winter sun and salty air.

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Much love,
K.

 

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

For My Fellow Survivors ❤️

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For my fellow survivors ❤️
 
It says on pill bottles as a disclaimer, do not operate heavy machinery. The irony in all of this, is trauma is heavy fucking machinery, which is to say, I’m not giving you permission. But if you ever decided it was too much and you wanted to rip yourself from the soil of this world, I would understand”
 
Sometimes, I feel like my heart is doing okay. And then, without warning, something wrenches it open and I come undone. I listened to this spoken word poem today and came completely and utterly undone. Because as people who have survived trauma, this is the kind of validation we need. We need to know it’s okay to feel what we feel, no matter how dark, no matter how terrifying, no matter how uncomfortable it makes others feel. Rarely do I allow myself that validation. Instead I tell myself I’m fine. I tell everyone else I’m fine. So goddamn fine. Except, some days I’m not fine.
 
Today I’m not fine.
 
There are days I still wake up so damn tired; beaten before the day has even begun. Beaten by the memories and the flashbacks and the triggers and the demons and the shame and the anxieties and the fears and the way these things seem to find me in the night while the rest of the world sleeps and leave me feeling like a small girl in a big world; so very alone and afraid. I woke up today like this; the graveyard of my heart dug open in the night and me, too weary to fight against it. To outrun it. To stay above it. To shovel the dirt upon it once more.
 
“You will feel broken. It is okay to feel broken. Broken is where the healing begins. This is where we begin. This is where we begin again, and again, and again.”
 
Healing doesn’t come in straight lines and even spaces. It is a wayward journey that brings us back to the places we need to be broken once again; that after the breaking, eventually, we will know the rising.
 
But for today, I am reminded it’s okay to be broken. It’s okay to feel this way. It’s okay to begin again. Today, I am reminded I am not alone in this.
 
“You, survivor, are still here.”
 
I am still here. You are still here.
 
And by god, the world will see us bloom.