Writing As Breathing

Let us not be the awkward acquaintance friends who say “long time no see” after an extended period of not seeing each other. In those scenarios we aren’t really ever happy that the period of not seeing has come to an end but we grin and endure the encounter anyway.

This week I had the privilege, thanks to the legendary Jacob Sam-La Rose, of being one of a few poets in residence at St Paul’s Cathedral. This is not the post where I delve into the beauty of this experience, that entry comes later. During one of our many discussions I gurgled forth a statement that has had me thinking, ‘writing is a form of breathing.’

The room did a chorus of ‘mmmm’ and I felt like I’d asked a question of myself without meaning to. “Writing is a form of breathing aye Jeremiah, what do you mean?”

I guess I can’t start this section without first quoting the great Jordin Sparks, ‘tell me how I’m supposed to breathe with no air.’

If writing is breathing then I’m coming to realise that the air is made up of many different gasses. I believe that the oxygen of writing is reading which really worries me because I don’t read anywhere near as much as I’d like. From what I’m learning and the habits I see of writers I revere, reading is essential. Your breathing will become very shallow eventually if you don’t read.

Outside of that I think other things that constitute the air for our writing is life and all the different things that constitute that for each of us. I know people, community, society, love and music are big contributors to my air and so they’re often reflected in my exhalations which are mostly poetry.

As I delve into this entry I realise there’s probably a deep science that could be applied to this metaphor but that’s long for man right now.

I hope if you’re reading this you’re very clear about the following because if not, I don’t know for you at all. Breathing is fundamental to life, it’s a bit of a madness if you aren’t doing it. In the same way, for a writer to inhale and exhale, to partake in the cycle of listening and giving is essential for their existence as an artist. (I say artist because I didn’t want to say writer twice so close together, I think writers are artist, it’s not a deep statement I’d go out on a limb for, so yeah.)

If you stop inhaling you’ll die, and to keep inhaling without exhaling is an impossibility. It’s really easy for me to do this fake breathing, to inhale trash air and exhale shallow breaths that aren’t really functioning to the betterment of my being as a writer.

It’s so important for me to experience life, to live and listen and not be a boxed up hermit cotched in some dark gutter. I need to inhale. In the same breath, (see what I did there), I also need to give myself space to exhale. I cannot breathe in and breathe in without giving myself space to write.

We don’t think about how we are breathing until something goes wrong. As a writer however I am still figuring out how to have breathing down as second nature. Of course sprints for the bus will be necessary and breathing after that is a bit mad but simple walk down the road can feel like stress sometimes.

I don’t have the answers for this but after this residency I’ve learnt the importance of giving yourself the space to exhale all that is being taken in, the space to write. When I say space here I want to conflate it with time and let the two function as synonyms for each other because it’s my blog post and it’s an idea I’d like to leave you with to stew on.

I do not have a bow to tie this post up with because I am still learning, still understanding what it means to write and so there are no answers here just explorations.

 

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ROUND 11 #NaPoWriMo (day 29)

Big man like Anthony Joshua taking down the legendary Vladimir Klitschko. What a fight!

My poetic recommendation for today is missing because I have left it too late… APOLOGIES!

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A lens can compress distance,
force motorways to fit between screen and face.

It is still a wall.
My emotions are moving like fast cars.

There is a pile up on your picture.

 

Don’t wanna talk #NaPoWriMo (day 28)

It’s odd how easy it is to dismiss the good things that have happened to you, or that you’ve achieved in a day only to focus on  all the things that were bad or could have gone better. In fairness, I feel like this happens to me when I’m less disciplined on the structure of my day with regards to working hours. Structure is important for my productivity, but also my mindset, need to sort that back out. Hmmmmm…

Rah. So I thought I’d recommended this poet to you guys already, maybe I just told you to check out his blog earlier on. Who knows, but Tyrone Lewis! @TyroneLewis22 is a bad boy poet. When he featured for Spit the Atom (a night run by the collective of the same name) he delivered a firecracker of a set. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, his use and referencing of pop culture is elite and so refreshing. As well as poet, he is also a a photographer and filmmaker. He is currently doing a documentary on the UK slam scene called ‘Scores Please’ which you can watch the first few episode of here. Watch him do his thing in the embedded video (oi oi) below.

I ought to address you

It is getting harder for me to write you away,
metaphor no longer covers so well.

I have too many poems in blank envelopes.
I open them on stages and read aloud.
Finish, then reseal in anonymity.

I should write your name in the blank spaces,
deliver these letters to whom they belong.

But what if love doesn’t read the same to you?

 

 

Poetry takeaway #NaPoWriMo (day 27)

Second blog post from the motorway. Large up the Poetry Takeaway it’s always a pleasure.

My poetry recommendation for today is Gabriel Jones aka Bump Kin if you’re following his music production which is so very dope. The way he uses imagery is left field and spectacular in such an incredible way. Follow him on twitter @GabrielPJones and a video of one of his poems is embedded below.

Colston Hall

These buildings are built in shackles.
The chains have rusted to bricks,
corroded into infrastructure.
Scratch away the names,
remove their glory and expose the chains.

 

 

On the motorway #NaPoWriMo (day 26)

I’m writing this, in the back of a car on my way up to Glastonbury. Read into that what you will, all I’m saying is think main stage, think Jay Z. I might just be making history. The problem with being in a car for me is that I’ve got a dodgy knee that I need to stop playing football on and get checked out. When I sit for too long it gets really stiff and painful. So I’m in the back of this car just waiting for the worst to happen and be in an awkward agony on the motorway.

My poet recommendation is the mega babe Laurie Bolger (@LaurieBolger). If Yomi is uncle then Laurie is like a fairy godmother. She’s an incredible human being of epic bubbly proportions. Her poetry is accessible, down to earth and feels like a warm snuggle with a cuppa, on a couch, watching the telly. Buy her debut collection Box Rooms (so warm) here. Anddd you guessed it, a video embedded below.

Nothing can grow here

The air in this room is dank.
Fertility is dying on the walls.
The windows are opaque with mildew.

There are mustard plants, wilting.

 

Low key forgot #NaPoWriMo (day 25)

Ngl I forgot about NaPo till about 20 minutes ago. I had the first line of this piece in my head so I’m grateful for that. Look what I do for you guys, what I put myself through for you, the people. Lol jk there’s another reason but… TIME!

No fire poet today as I wont do them justice… big up Shakespeare I guess.

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A tree was struck by lightning,
it burned up from the inside.

Stood as a cylinder of fire encased in bark,
a gutted tree refusing to be felled.

What use is defiance against burning
if inside you are already dead?

The home stretch #NaPoWriMo (day 24)

We are reaching the home stretch, coming towards the end of Na Po. It’s the final week which really serves to prove that time moves ridiculously fast because it barely feels like April has begun. Perhaps that’s just me, and this month has been a laborious one that feels like it’s never going to end. Either way we are approaching a month till June, which means we are nearly half way through the year, which equally means we will soon be at the point where we are closer to the next year than we are to the last one. It also means that we are approaching the U.K’s interpretation of summer soon too! I don’t know what the British summer has in store for us but it’s going to be more heat than winter so I’m grateful.

I saw this man at Veranda earlier this month, and knew I had to recommend him at some point during Na Po. Joshua Idehen (@BeninCitizen) poet, musician, and twitter… I don’t even know how to describe his tweets, but I catch plenty a joke following his interactions. Anyways his work… LEVELS. He’s got an energy that he brings that is just mad. I’ve gotten fancy and embedded a video that will start at the correct time. I remember watching this whole thing, and not being familiar with Mr Idehen but his piece had me making bare indiscernible noises all the same, by myself, in my front room, late at night, when I was supposed to be being quiet cos my house was sleeping. The video is below.

At the bank’s edge

I drew a line, thick like choppy waters,
made it so I could not cross.
Now I am standing at the bank,
nudging my feet nearer the edge.
Daring myself to walk,
to find the fire on the other side.

Drowning in the middle
is more scary than burning.
Lukewarm water flooding my lungs
with thorned anchors, filling me up,
tearing me open, carrying me down.

I will drown or I will burn
or I will return from whence I came.