Wanda Deglane is one of my favourite writers and the poems in this book show why. The poems in Bittersweet are written about the experiences of being female, which include our bodies, periods, sex and boys. The subjects all intersect, and it demonstrates their knock-on effect on each other.
I think sometimes you can feel as if you are going mad – is what I am experiencing been experienced by other people? I rarely read poems that mention periods and it feels like a taboo subject to write about. In poem Training Bras Wanda Deglane writes ‘we hardly remember the day our bodies start changing, the slippery moment of bones and organs shifting and expanding from tiny slender girl to this soft, fleshy thing,’ I remember when my body began to change, I hated it. Puberty made me feel suicidal. It has been a relief to peel back layers of shame while reading Bittersweet. To that end Bittersweet has immeasurable worth to me.
You know when you’re going through a period of depression and you aren’t reading anything, then you clap eyes on a book and it’s just what you need to get excited about reading again? That was Almost Adults. Since I read this book on Monday I have finished two more. This is what I am like on a reading streak.
In Almost Adults nothing out of the ordinary happens, it is a story of a group of friends navigating their way through … life. Relationships, breakups, unemployment, grief, and a lot more besides. I loved the dynamic of this group and found myself envying their friendship. I liked the whatsapp messaging they used to communicate too. I found I could relate to every one of them in some small way, although Edele is definitely me. One thing I felt was that some of the thoughts and dialogue were cliched and written in to give the story some morals. There is also a lot of drinking in the book, which could be triggering for some. As an Almost Adult I loved this book, it was easy enough to read in one afternoon and there wasn’t any of it I didn’t enjoy. It’s modern, it’s true and the characters are great.
I have always been very good at the writing part of … writing, and not so much at the discipline of editing, and whatnot. Ever since the bug of poetry bit me at the age of sixteen I have written continually on whatever bits of paper I might find laying around, with whichever pen might happen to work. I joined a writing site soon after that and enjoyed interacting and sharing my writing with a community of other likeminded people. I started sending some of those poems to literary publications when I was eighteen. And now I am twenty-three, I have had my poems published online and in print. I have met and read a lot of writers online in that time too. Sometimes it seems the only thing that keeps me sane. I love discovering new writers.
Writing has always been my way of communication from when I was a little girl. Writing this I cringe a little inside because I am more comfortable writing from a poem point of view, than from my own. That’s because I’m not a confident person and don’t like to share my thoughts outwardly because of fear of people telling me I’m wrong or being stupid. I keep reminding myself I’m an adult now and not a child, but coping mechanisms die hard!
I guess writing, and poetry stopped me from becoming lonely too. I was a very quiet, sensitive, and shy child, and I often felt shunned by family, teachers, friends. Writing reminded me I was alive at times, that I had some kind of power. Reading has that same impact too. Words can become a healing balm.
Over the last few months I have felt shut out from poetry, and a little adrift from the community. It seems like it has become a popularity contest? I have gotten into the nasty habit of comparison with fellow poets. Why are they being published and I’m not? What’s wrong with my voice? Do you read my poetry and recognize how uneducated I am, how limited my vocabulary can be because of where I’m from?
Loneliness comes in various guises. Sometimes you want to connect, to talk with somebody. Desperately wanting to know someone is willing to talk with you. Sometimes it’s that ache of needing to be hugged, because it’s been so long. Other times it’s just wanting a laugh and forgetting you live half of your life inside your own head. It’s knowing you don’t have a friend to tag in giveaways on Twitter, won’t need an extra seat, and second guessing every damn decision you make.
I remember feeling the loss when I was rejected by friends as a seven-year-old. Friends that thought I was a little bit strange, intense, overzealous. For me it is ingrained now, loneliness. I find my own solutions, sometimes through poetry, and other times good old Google helps me out.
Does technology make us more or less likely to be lonely? I don’t know.
It is different for everybody. I didn’t grow up with technology the likes we have now. I remember tapes and VHS and floppy discs and the house phone. When I begin to use the internet in my late teens I found community and people that I could engage with. It’s incredibly easy to talk to people online when you aren’t so used to it offline. Which is where I have to say it’s about balance. If life offline is OK then it’s much easier to regulate what you are doing online. You won’t be vulnerable to coming into contact with that disease called scroll and compare.