FROM THE BRUSH TO THE PEN
Thursday 22nd February, 7pm
We bring you Threesome (The Writers).
The art exhibition, Threesome, 3 artists – Sadie Lee, SJ Moon, Roxana Halls, explore the canvas and the Queer female gaze.
Now, three writers – Julia Bell, Laura Bridgeman and Sogol Sur – explore the page and the Queer female gaze.
Each writer has written a commissioned piece to accompany the show.
In prose, poetry and hybrid forms, each writer uses words to explore one of the artists’ portraits, a self portrait, and a snapshot of themselves in their work. For one night, we read these works next to the paintings, acknowledging the intersections between the canvas and the page.
it’s a cave it’s a chasm it’s an eye
it’s a coil of pulp it’s a fold of skin
it’s a flush of flesh
it’s a multi-layering of meat
of adipose tissue
it’s a region of glands
it’s a hood
it’s a cleft
it’s a concentration of carnality
it’s an inside
it’s an inside made outside
it’s an eruption from the lower body
it’s a release of rock from the earth
or a release of earth from rock
it’s the fury of larva
rings of fire
it’s plate boundaries
it’s the volcanoes across the globe
Mount Tambora and Nevado del Ruiz
it’s the swell of cliff
it’s the clutch of weed
it’s the gull’s nest the raven’s nest the magpie’s nest
it’s the dragon’s lair
it’s the moss and the lichen and the algae
it has a pink entrance and a red exit
it weeps on your leaving
it sings on your entering
it bleeds from time to time
it commands you to come closer
and it traps you
with fullness and form
it draws you up
it draws you arrested
it draws you inside
it sucks you in like a vacuum cleaner
it scoops you up through front door of the building
to the sideboard of the kitchen
the fan oven
the counter sticking
with honey fingers and marmalade knuckles
and spicy tips
and ginger rubs
and mottled cloves
it’s the garage door booming bright after the summer’s strength
it’s the trap door
in the centre of the floor by the staircase
where all the family secrets are stuffed
all the journals
the photo albums
the clothes from yesteryear
the straw hats
the flat caps
the raincoats and the broken trainers
the faraway toys that were long since forgotten
it’s the sucked ears of teddy bears
the broken bits of dolls
the rubbed paws of stuffed rabbits
the board games and the books
the Wild Things
the Silent Hills
the Snakes and Ladders
the Wendy Houses
with the pots and the pans and the multi-coloured home-made flags and bunting
who has gone there?
who has attempted to colonise?
many of us
brave beyond belief
you cannot govern it
it defies you
war beats you
leaves you stinging against the nettles in the field
and the barbed wire fence
it leaves you bloated
with its bulbous abilities
it cannot be taken
it falls still in the rosy harvest of its own oneness
still in its sour-sweet cherry blossom
still in its Oriental recipe of
egg drop soup
sip sip sip
on the lips of it
the run of it
the nub of it
the lengths of it
the punctuations of it
the full stops
and the commas and the semi-colons
the new paragraphs
and the thumbed pages
the rolled up canvases
the cracks of it
the inner labia
the outer labia
the mons pudentis and the mons
the buttocks underneath
and all those surgeons
that want to snip at it
cut at it
tuck at it
against the 2cms
so that there are no hanging bits
flaps and hoops and unsightly lines
things that might drip and leak
and if you dare
should you dare
to touch it there
press it there
turn it there
see how it makes noises at you?
and all those others that it might have been party to it
the punters that have passed through
in rushes like torpedoes
in rushes like Concordes
with Olympus jets made of aluminum
and all the boats that sailed in there
loitering in the harbour
swimmers who have found caskets rich
divers who have harvested oysters
razors and mussels and clams
have lost their way
the sailors that can’t quite find the shores
and sometimes how angry it gets
snaffling you away
then it informs you on nervous days
that it has had others that have gone higher
but you still lock into the taste of it
like the tang of
a dank river
and it feels like every season
of the smooth innards of avocado
it feels like snails and snakes
and toffee that has been boiled too long
and you can put your fingers in it
your tongue in it
your teeth in it
your toes in it
your fist in it
your flesh in it
your silicone dicks
your silicone probes
your ticklers and your scrotums
your real dicks and your long dicks and your fat cocks
and you can listen to the musical parts
requiems from Verdi
Faure without violins
Mozart in D minor
and dreams may issue from it
painted with the swell of stars
impossible to govern
stratospheres of light
impossible to follow
hemispheres of planets
all twirling on it
Jupiter Venus Earth Mars Neptune Saturn
with nightmares from those planets
Fuesli night terrors
with the golem on the top
and the horse’s
head screaming through the curtain
it has sleep cycles bended
it has branches of woodland
keen fresh ridges of pines
the forests and jungles
thick swinging ropes
creepers and animal nails
skin and flesh
it has filaments and calibrates and textiles
all tumbled together
and the smells emitting from it
are pungent odours
like damp flowers
liquor covering in ice cubes
liquor covering autumn nut kernels
and it makes you think of hope
and it makes you think of starting over
to the ancient place
it makes you think of the time that you began on the inside
on the inside
growing on the inside
deep on the inside
and who had the first one?
who had the one that started it all off?
it feels like we are always looking for her
asking to be back with her
between the legs of her
and the lips of her
the first female that ever was
and the first one that ever was
hurt and pinched and slapped
and the first one that was ever grown and made hairy
winking at the outside with its orifice
and was asking to be
and clung onto
and now to
the names of it
and the calling of it
from across history
The End of the Sentimental Journey
A Nasty Name for a Nasty Thing
Nature’s Tufted Treasure
a Cave of Love
in nautical terms
the splice and the rope
and the line and the knot
the evil men
the greedy men
the worst kind of woman that ever lived
the snaffling multi-nationals
all the male writers writing it
it’s sacred and profane
it’s a self-cleaning oven
it’s a Hindu Goddess still worshipped
all the female writers writing it
and all the mouths of
it exists in every tongue
And in Middle English
as a wedge-shape or
and in Modern English
I am in my blackest mood, and she
lies on the whiteness of my sheets in her
blackest bra, staring at the air I am supposed
to breathe, except that I cannot breathe.
Her black jeans are as tight as my lungs
I have coughed and fought all my sable life
My visions of her have become holographic bars behind which
I am trapped.
Like every melancholic captive, I love my dungeon
Like every claustrophobic patient, I loathe it
at times, I crave escape, but when she turns her pensive
head towards me, the darkness of her eyes hit mine, I
collapse to my knees, pulverised under her silver thunder.
Upon being touched by her flame fingers, and her tongues of fire,
I explode. She celebrates my combustion by collecting my ashes
from her cool ceramic floor, warming them in her powerful grip
before sniffing me away. Later on, in a sunny concert hall,
she will lie to her envious friends, saying it was just cocaine.
I know I am her drug and it’s what I have wanted to become
since I was a child.
The Leather Sun
It is five a.m. and there is a woman growing
inside my head. Not like a tumor –
but a flower that feeds on power
she makes me tremble
Words devour me. I open my mouth,
thirsty for more, this is a sweet-tasting storm
I know someday this bed of hers
will be my comfortable tomb
For now, this monstrous bed is a gilded ship,
a surreptitious ship, my shelter,
I stare into her eyes until they are the sun and
I melt, melt, melt. It is true:
I am like Icarus in my ridiculous ambition and lack of abstinence
in my love of flight, height, and light,
but she calls me Napoleon, and
laughs in my ears
her leather scent fills my throbbing nostrils like cocaine,
she kisses my neck and worships my shamelessness, she says
I am arrogant and licks my lips. Outside, the sun,
a blood red orange, waiting to be peeled by us.
Two Is Lonely, Three Is Company
As my two boys kiss each other, their petal lips
expand into a wine ocean
in which I sink
I am sober with desire
soaking wet with thrill
Scarlet rose buds are erupting in our ceremony
Now that my natural dream has become my unnatural reality
I am not ashamed of it
Their twenty-year-old tongues dance on soft flesh
My breath wrapping around my neck
I gasp for air as I caress the hard trees outside my reality
Their necks entangle
A velvet lake I swim in
Eternity is naked
And the three of us are inside it
It’s a strange feeling, watching yourself being watched,
when she’s not even looking at you.
I mean, you took your clothes off,
but she’s over there, hiding behind her canvas,
typical first date nerves, can’t even meet your eye
while she assesses your curves, fixes you into position.
You have the sensation of someone scratching you into being,
You have submitted to adaptation, becoming made with thick
jabs of the brush, every forensic part of you, stroked.
Here’s a thigh, here the breast bone. Here, your vagina.
You shift your position, your flesh cold and sagging,
sitting becomes an imposition that you forgot you asked for.
Perhaps some conversation? but language dies in your throat,
the heater makes the dust scratchy, you sneeze. You wonder how much longer.
Finally, she turns the easel, and something moves,
in the smooth slick of pigment and way the paint
covers the cellulite of canvas, and the light and line of skin,
and you are alive in a way your cool bones are not.
And into the space between you, emerges a new, third person,
who is both you and not you. A projection, a transmission, art.
Not Another Dead Lesbian Movie
Let this be my confession. I too, have killed lesbians in my stories.
Forgive me, I was too much of a realist.
I thought I understood the chambers of the heart,
that happy ever after never belonged in queer art.
I thought it was a plot necessity, an inevitability.
I mean what do you do with the story when you’ve finally got them off?
Now I know I lacked imagination so let me bring them back,
breathe life into their bones. Apologise to those that I have murdered,
to other people’s ghosts, sitting on my shoulders, whispering untruths.
Your mother telling you you’re weird, or your father’s porn magazines.
Let me make them fleshy, lucky, give them back their sheen.
Allow them multitudes, personalities, opportunities, sexualities.
So much more exhilarating than tragedies, so much more obscene.
And here’s the edge. If we’re alive not dead we’re different and we’re dangerous.
I think it must be the worst word in the English language: me.
Like that bad joke about the narcissist,
especially the bit where they turn around
and say enough about me. Let me tell you about me.
& while you are still talking I wonder if the damp ring
where you put your cup will leave a stain.
As a test, I told you I had cancer twice.
That’s nice, you said and carried on.
In your mouth the self is weaponised: Mee.
Like the mewling of a kitten,
a kitten that I imagine you want to stab with your stiletto.
There are parties so bored and decadent where people do this.
It gives them a thrill to kill with their heels.
When I read that, it gave me a funny, tingling feeling,
like someone had taken a razor blade and scratched between my thighs,
in a bedroom with pink soft toys piled high against the doors.
Maybe it was because I liked to hide in the gaps of your attention.
Maybe I liked to feel abhorred.
Maybe I wanted to crawl on my knees through beige kitchens,
still starving, having forgotten what I’d gone in there for.