TOMBOY BOOKCLUB- ORLANDO!!!

When I made an instagram page to promote this blog (@tomboypress), I started a feature called Tomboy Bookclub (including cute pictures of my animal companions and what I think they would say aha). I gave my general opinions on books I had read and liked, they weren’t indepth at all- so I’ve decided to bring the feature PROPERLY here, and to start a-fresh with the book that incubated it all… ORLANDO!!! A classic with changing genders, Woolf hounds (see what I did there- aha), poetry written in berries and a life that lasts 400 years!

This Woolfian mock-biography is known as one of the longest love letters in literary history, and knowing that tid-bit does make reading more endearing- get rid of all the indepth analysis that can be done on Orlando’s sprawling ancient mansion, or the cryptic scene of their gender swap, and even if you don’t understand all the wierdness of the book, it’s still interesting to imagine the similarities between Vita ( Virginia’s lover aside from Leonard, and her inspiration for this book) and Orlando; what Virginia noticed and remembered about her to later transform into further fictions.

The elements of this book that interest me most- aside from it’s beautiful prose and hilarious narrative in general- are the ways it presents the natural world in its relation with human emotion. How as a youth up until the last chapter, Orlando returns to their favourite Oak tree to try and spit out the truth of their heart’s love; rewriting, scribbling over old lines to make an almost illegible Ode. Yet, in settings of their courtly mansion or in town, Orlando changes subtly from the romantic poet, to the aloof yet popular socialite with a reputation for public grandeur and wealth- not hiding in tree trunks. Despite the huge changes of gender and historical era Orlando experiences, I still kind of feel the biggest changes in Orlando come with the tensions of public status in their community VS what Orlanndo actually wants to express when in the clear-mindedness of reflection in nature.

For example, Orlando never really feels the urge/ desperation/obligation to marry (despite forlorn hankerings for romance) until the Victorian era. But one day, they freak out and declare they will only be nature’s bride. It is at this moment, the moment of resolute decision in the wilds of wind and moss, that Orlando’s future paradoxically swings in the other direction. Love on horseback arrives, and the rest is history. I think the point Woolf is trying to make is that of individuality. That we all MUST hang onto the quirks and stubbornesses and wills of our personality in order to maintain that ‘true’-self that will be loved, BUT… AT THE SAME TIME we have to understand how we as individuals fit into a larger order where others’ plans intercept our own. What we deem ‘morally right’ or ‘important’ or ‘necessary’ for ourselves doesn’t mean a rats ass to how the big guys think this place should be run. We have to adapt and hide what is wild to survive- but never, ever loose the core of dreaming which is what we suvive for. Don’t worry though; even though Orlando does marry, it isn’t written in a traditional way and in my opinion, doesn’t take away from any radical queerness. I don’t think finding a love that fits life diminishes their character in any way.

I won’t lie and say it is a straight-forward read, because for Woolf’s wit and elegance to truly be enjoyed you can’t just guzzle the words without tasting them. It isn’t a traditional or predictable story at all, but I think just the sheer quirkiness of the story and it’s characters means even if you don’t fully understand a fancy-shmancy sub-plot or how what is happening is even logically possible (trust- it is a wonderfully wierd book); sometimes it’s better to give yourself over to nonsense. The stranger things are, the more room for imaginative reasonings and resonations- the world needs people thinking outside the box!!!!

Give Orlando a quick google if I still haven’t sold it to you! But if you’ve read the book let me know and we can have a geeky chat about it!!!!

To finish, I shall leave you with a quote… nothing profound xoxoxoxoxoxoxoxox

“… clumsiness is often mated with a love of solitude.”
― Virginia Woolf, Orlando

mind fart

I promised I would start making writing on here more structured. Being an anxious drama queen who soothes fears of inadequacy and failure by completely ignoring or avoiding the offending threat, often means this blog is neglected whilst I swerve my attention to less sustainable lifestyle choices… I shall not digress further. But, despite just claiming that I want to make this space more structured and reliable for posting content which actually has a clear intention; today’s post shall be a ramble. A mind shamble like a beach walk through London gutters filled with alligators and pink rivers. A big old bramble of ideas or something like that which I thought of when I was probably a bit high, and probably just a littleee bit sad or worried. But always hopeful- and today’s post is about hope and how I thought maybe we could not let it crush us with its brightness and potential big and heavy as whale smiles. A thought about hope that is catered to the inevitable failures of this capitalist, racist, misogynistic, anthropocentric world (so many words- not enough people to hear me…)

Basically, my brain thought thus: Just because your dream worlds cannot be replicated in the materiality/ reality around you, does not make them any less valuable or less real- they still are a part of you and the life/ lives your body encounters living each day. Don’t expect your dreams to be a plot for the success of your life, let them already be your life- let imagination and surreality all slither and intoxicate and wedge themselves into the drudge-space of other eyes deciding who you are- let your goals and thoughts and ideas (even worries, that you can constructively and conceivably change) that make you feel  sincerely content bathe you in obscurity. Be obscure and so wrapped up in your hopes that it doesn’t matter if the rest of the world doesn’t notice/ care/ is insane/cruel/ unfathomable. ask yourself what your REAL dreams are and why (world peace or slimming down to a size 8) – if they even are your dreams originally in the first place and who you would be with no one to see/ experience your being…

Don’t expect the material conditions and circumstances of your present life be the end product of what your mind is capable of. The mind is more hopeful with its energies and movements and imaginations than the actual weight of the world with its limited resources and space and time can achieve.

Basically (I hope I don’t sound preachy, if so- my sincerest apologies): Let your mind colour your life and live submerged in that colour simultaneously. be your own rose tinted glasses and know the world is only as beautiful as you can conceive it to be. BE A WIERDO DREAMING NERD FOREVER!!!!!!! xoxoxoxoxoxoxxoxoxoxoxxoxox

WASHPOPPINNN!!!!

HELLO INTERNET, LONG TIME NO SEE!!!!!

I have returned after a long hiatus finishing my undergraduate degree to now pursue the infinite love of poetry to it’s lair… and the road I’m using through today’s brambles and briars was weaved with a fake pair of tits and voice screaming out for the schmoneys; cause’ I’m the bitch they love to hate, the bitch they hate to love.

Yes- Cardi B is poetry. She may seem a somewhat rough-edged muse, but what else is poetry written for if not rude survival; good poetry is not for the faint of heart, and neither is Cardi B’s rapping. She inspires the fuck out of me. As, despite all the inevitable horrid comments made about her body and person – whether as stripper, or now-  despite the potential for silence and conformity and blind-eyed chasing for money, Cardi decided to try for something better. Horniness for money isn’t her greatest charm; though I do love the idea of her shaking her beautiful ass in front of boring men and taking all their dollar, but the sustained capacity she displays for kindness.

YES I KNOW SHE BECAME FAMOUS FOR BEING LOUD AND VOILENT AND PETTY ON REALITY TV AND VINES- but don’t we all have to be petty to get along? And every one can grow and change. Plus, to be fair- her wild eyed flaring up is pretty cathartic to watch for me; if only I could cuss all the people in life who deserve it like she can. I thank you Cardi: for being funny with no make-up on and signing about love with her rapper zaddy. For getting pregnant and still playing the Coachella stage. I fucking dig how she believes in love, how she’s a trap-romantic. I love how she puts love and money back in the strip club (I bet she pays the girls well) and how proud she is of the Bronx when many people would just call her ratchet. Well, perhaps ratchet is code for alarmingly brave and threatening to patriarchal capitalist hegemony. lol.

I’m not saying that Cardi is perfect, or that she is some kind of socialist activist hiding her sickle under all those diamonds: promoting gang culture isn’t cool, nor can Transphobia be tolerated, but who can say they are perfect? and I hope as she matures and grows with her child, some of the less than radical views will change.

When the world starts to make me want to lay down and die: Theresa May (her lizard bowl cut repulses me- not that physical appearnce is at all the most alarming element of her demonhood) and Amber Rudd’s disgusting immigration policies, the bombing of Syria, Donald fucking Trump and his spray tanned fascism… I imagine Cardi and think, LITTLE BITCH YOU CAN’T FUCK WITH ME IF YOU WANTED TO.

I am returning to this blog with the intention to try and be a little more like Cardi B. To write and write and write like she laughs and raps and is generally very resilient. I want to share poems on here, reviews of books, general thoughts AND…. to promote my first book!!!!!!

So, I thank you for reading this post, and I hope you return here again in the future!!! For now, the poem I want to share is by Eboni Hogan, giving us some black girl magic with her poem ‘Cardi B Tells Me about Myself’.

Cardi B Tells Me about Myself

Dear Frustrated in Flatbush,
Gurl, just go on ahead then.
You waiting for your Daddy
to give you the thumbs up?
Do what you like.
Do what makes your ass happy.
They gon’ call you all makes
and sizes of hoe anyway.
That’s how this thing been set up.
But just cuz they name a thing a thing,
don’t mean it ain’t still named God
in some other language.

Your fortune cookie say you poppin’.
You a full spread of good shit.
Your rotten wisdom tooth.
Your pockmarked shoulders.
Those eyelashes ain’t come here
to talk about the weather.
You the hottest day in July
and every fire hydrant in this city
is written out to your name.

XOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOOXOXOXOXOXOXOXXOOXOXXOXO

Tonight is my last night at home since the summer holidays began before going back to uni in Canterbury for my final year. It is mixed emotions, a subtle blend and balance of excitement filtered through with slight wishes for home routines to stay.

It is always hard making a change, be them little or large- but no change will ever seem so frightening as how my mind was fretting the night before the first ever day of university. The transition down to Kent wasn’t helped by a 2 hour traffic jam; made slightly more entertaining by a troupe of drunken football fans wandering between the cars, slurring around half formed conversation starters. I guess nothing is ever perfect, you’ve just got to just roll with it- accept the swaps: no longer shall your dreams of arriving early and without blustering be true; but still, at least try to laugh on the M11. 

Right now, the thought of not cuddling Pogo and Nelson each day, of not goofing around with my sister or reading books snuggled in my room late at night, are sobering losses to contend. But, with every down there is an up: I shall see my friends again tommorow, and Canterbury- a city I have come to really love living in. The term will begin and that means time to write poems and read more books- life never stops giving, it just doesn’t keep giving the same things.

Here is baby Pogo (AKA Satan) asleep on my butt after cuddles ❤️

But that makes me think more- does life GIVE, or do we make actions to GET; for better or worse? I guess the only way to find out is to make changes.

Today’s poem isn’t really a poem, but a song. For my 21st birthday, Dad brought me a collection of CD’s by one of the world’s most tender and beautiful folk singers- Sandy Denny. “Who Knows Where the Time Goes” is a bittersweet ballad of love and loss and how it feels like an evening sky, full of colours like stained glass windows or jewels. I am sorry to leave home, but it is a comfort to know who and where I’m leaving won’t forget me, no matter how many changes I make. 

Who Knows Where the Time Goes 

Across the evening sky, all the birds are leaving.

But how can they know it’s time for them to go?

Before the winter fire, I will still be dreaming. I have no thought of time

For who knows where the time goes? Who knows where the time goes?

Sad, deserted shore, your fickle friends are leaving

Ah, but then you know it’s time for them to go

But I will still be here, I have no thought of leaving. I do not count the time

For who knows where the time goes?Who knows where the time goes?

And I am not alone while my love is near me. I know it will be so until it’s time to go

So come the storms of winter and then the birds in spring again 

I have no fear of time



Women fly when men aren’t looking

I still feel a bit tired and for no fathomable reason unnervingly wierded out since coming back from my birthday weekend: this makes me feel guilty, seeing as I have nothing to complain about yet still want to stab my self with a million forks (wierd image, I know- but it’s what hit my mind first)

I saw some artworks at the Tate Modern; Carrie Mae Weem’s red sadness and protest of the enslavement of black African people into black slaves of America- ‘I saw and I wept…”; Red photographs cased by poetries etched onto glass frames. After the Tate Modern, I met up with Daisy and we went to Oxford Street to look at pink feathered jackets and blue sequined denim jeans that looked like they belonged to a mermaid with legs. We met up with Flo and walked down to Foyles, scanning shelves of books, but of course focusing on the beloved aisles of poetry- I was so flamboyant. I brought books brand new.

In the evening Zab came- we got ready in make-up and fancy clothes; I feel in all my pettiness, this is where some seed of current confusion of stabbing forks was sown. In the weeks leading up to this celebration, I had been so excited to make myself look and FEEL hot/sexy/ powerful bla bla bla in this little red dress. The reality is I felt bloated and ugly and pure second rate compared to my HEAVEN SENT GORGEOUS friends, and got changed immediatley into a less than glamourous outfitt (think Paris Hilton’s ugly sister who was locked up in the highest hotel room, forced to live only on Twinkies). I am not saying this in order to try and obtain any sympathies, on the contrary I am saying it because it is the truth of incomphrensible emotion. It is white first world problems, and it makes me feel even sillier for knowing what I should finally (at nearly 21) know is bullshit, my brain still pushes onto the child within me and makes the child inside cry and want to hide.

This small, miniscule discomfort of not wearing the dress I’d imagined us partying in should (and truly, thank god, DOES NOT) overshadow all the fun we had travelling round London; talking of poetry in Foyles and the feminist library, being intellectual and going to see the beautiful Queer exhibition at the Tate gallery; laughing in parks so hard I could pee and dancing to trap music on the stairs of St. Pauls, then collapsing into our hotel room with plush double beds and a boquet of flowers (we’d eaten all the cupcakes by this point).

I hate this ungratitude of the disobedient side of my brain focusing more on how my stomach and hips looked in a dress rather than on the smile of our faces in the strobe flash of photos we took. I may not be, nor ever shall attain supermodel status or looks- but that in no way inhibits capacities for love, for loving my friends and the time we had- all the times more awaiting.

I realise now how easy it is to focus on one tiny negative thought instead of cherishing the memories of how lucky I am on this planet- a father who organised it all, the train drivers who got me there, and my friends who took the time out their jobs to come see me.

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SHOUT OUT TO MY FRIENDS FOR PUTTING UP WITH MY EXTRA BULLSHIT AND SELF-LOATHING ALL THE TIME!!!!! XOXOX

Today’s post is already verging on being lenghty, but thats okay because it’s for a special lesson and occassion. Without further adiue, here is today’s post- it is from a book I bought in Foyles by Jeanette Winterson, one of my favourite authors. The small book is simply called ‘Love’ (the quote I use is orginally from “Why be Happy when you could be Normal?“). xooxooxoxoxx

“Love is vivid. I never wanted the pale version. Love is full strength. I never wanted the diluted version. I never shied away from love’s  hugeness but I had no idea that love could be as reliable as the sun. The daily rising of love.” 

 

To walk no longer invisible

Today I fulfilled a long hoped for pilgrimage with my family and drove up north through winding streets of small pubs and purple heather, finally reaching the Brontë parsonage at Haworth. I was supporting my fellow female writers, who wrote and wrote with hopes and hopes, not of celebrity as we consider it- but merely a future, a life where they could provide for their loved ones with a pen and sentences breathing.

The amazement of how small Charlotte’s feet were, the inked notebooks of poetry by Emily or Branwell’s smoked out figure amongst his sisters’ portrait, which he painted himself; Anne’s Scarborough pebble collection. These humdrum relics of their lives were so interesting and humbling to see, what with what knowledge we have realised now, that Branwell is more than a drunk and his sisters more than mere governesses; secret writers. They are no longer invisible, they are legendary.

I kept thinking of the contextual cruelty in which those animated and powerful women lived- a world of strict boundaries of who could and could not have money, when women were angels or whores- neither of whom deemed wise enough to yield a pen so mightily as a man. I am born in a world where, yes- many structures are still so fucked up and writhing with hatred and willed ignorance that it’s hard to fathom any progress sometimes; yet, here have I set gauntlet. Writing alone. My own pen. My own name.

I do not want to let go for granted what these intelligent, wholehearted women strove so hard to obtain. I am a savage, as Emily wrote- I am still half wild and free to play on the moors of my mind as I will. Thank God for books.

Today’s poem is by Emily, ‘No Coward Soul is Mine’ (A personal favourite along with ‘Remembrance‘). I presume the power she refers to here is the Christian “God”, but I like to interpret it as our own god; happiness seeded inside ourselves which twines and kindles with others who will it so, our determination to “choose not to suffer uselessly” (as Adrienne Rich wrote it). No coward souls were theirs, and neither is mine.

No Coward Soul is Mine

No coward soul is mine
No trembler in the world’s storm-troubled sphere
I see Heaven’s glories shine
And Faith shines equal arming me from Fear
O God within my breast
Almighty ever-present Deity
Life, that in me hast rest,
As I Undying Life, have power in Thee
Vain are the thousand creeds
That move men’s hearts, unutterably vain,
Worthless as withered weeds
Or idlest froth amid the boundless main
To waken doubt in one
Holding so fast by thy infinity,
So surely anchored on
The steadfast rock of Immortality.
With wide-embracing love
Thy spirit animates eternal years
Pervades and broods above,
Changes, sustains, dissolves, creates and rears
Though earth and moon were gone
And suns and universes ceased to be
And Thou wert left alone
Every Existence would exist in thee
There is not room for Death
Nor atom that his might could render void
Since thou art Being and Breath
And what thou art may never be destroyed.

Canines and Hijabs

I keep thinking how remarkable it is that a being with no audible voice in my life, with no tangible dexterity of any human language is capable of teaching me so much of Love. I am referring to Flush, Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s pet spaniel who Virginia Woolf wrote a book about after reading the Browning’s love letters.

I watched many interesting talks today about Muslim women; whether the hijab is ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ (Personally, I no longer believe in ‘right’ or ‘wrong’- just kind and unkind, happy and unhappy- these things warp and change day to day, but they do not pretend to be as monolithic and grand as ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ try to be), about the visibility of Muslim women and what it even means to be Muslim anymore in all the lies and stereotypes we are fed every day for the ends of perpetuating profit, blood money.

Just in case anyone’s interested, here are the talks I listened to-

  • What does the Quran really say about a Muslim woman’s hijab? | Samina Ali | TEDxUniversityofNevada

  • What We Don’t Know About Europe’s Muslim Kids and Why We Should Care | Deeyah Khan | TEDxExeter

  • The Muslims You Cannot See | Sahar Habib Ghazi | TEDxStanford

 

  • The Muslim on the airplane | Amal Kassir | TEDxMileHighWomen

I think we should all try to be a bit more like Flush in these times when myth pervades over smiling at strangers in the street. When I watch my dogs on our walks, they never slow down to a pace of shyness when a new puppy lollops out on our horizon- my dogs sniff, they they circle and play; I like to imagine in human terms they would be saying “Hello fellow Soul, how do you do?

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The only reason monsters exist is because we make them. Which means we can also un-make them, and I guess that must start with ending fear. Understanding that each human, regardless and yet resulting from colour creed gender age etc ect, is a plethora of nerves and arbitrary intellects. No one is a closed book ending, we must stop conducting this society as if we are robots; we must think like dogs. I treasure what Virginia says: “Flush knew what man can never know- love pure; love simple, love entire; love that brings no train of care in its wake; that has no shame; no remorse; that is here, that is gone, as the bee on the flower is here and gone.” 

Today’s poem is by a Farsi poetess, Forough Farrokhzad- an Iranian modernist thinker whose poem ‘Born Again‘ is so beautiful and strong she gave me shivers, my arm hairs stood up on the tube. ‘Born Again‘ is rather long, so I didn’t want to include it here; instead here is ‘Gift‘… xoxoxoxoxoxooxox

Gift

I speak out of the deep of night
out of the deep of darkness
and out of the deep of night I speak.

If you come to my house, friend
bring me a lamp and a window I can look through
at the crowd in the happy alley. 

Forough Farrokhzad