Journal entry: Seasons change

Looking back at Seasons Change I can see how the inspirations that drove the poem really shine through. One being this poem:

“Of all the people you have kissed she was your favourite because she didn’t flinch when you curled your hand around her neck and tightened. She said “I break the law because I’ve never broken a heart and I want to know what it feels like to be the brick not the window pane”. When she’s drunk she’ll dress up for you, all straps & lace & stockings. When she’s high she’ll dress down for you, all skin & skin & skin.” – by Annabelle Nyst

These powerful, delicate lines have followed me for over 5 years, still affecting me each time I read them and I wanted to write a poem that carried the same energy and life (a very hard task but at least I tried).

From what started off as a few lines, my poem gained a life of its own as I got really involved with the idea that I wanted this poem to be about love, to about a relationship that goes through natural seasons. A love that grows from an intense infatuation into a mild disdain, leading to an eventual break up. I wanted this poem to really embody the imagery of earth’s four seasons (here’s hoping I achieved that??).

When I wrote “Seasons Change” in 2017, it may have been a few months after a month long romance I had that I couldn’t say inspired this poem entirely as the love presented in this poem is grounded in a long-standing relationship that I had yet to experience. But I find it so interesting how  I can transfigure my experience, of a short whirlwind romance, into a poem about a true love relationship that grew cold over time and only freedom from that relationship could bring my protagonist back to the warmth of her own self love. But I guess that’s the beauty of art and partially fictional prose.

I can relate to this poem a lot more now after recently coming out of a relationship and feeling the comfort and relief that can come from a much needed time alone. It’s interesting to think that this poem kind of foreshadows things I was yet to experience. But that could be a result of time being an illusion, that the dividing line between past, present and future is an illusion, that everything that has happened or will happen is happening right now in this very moment but we are unable to perceive it. But I digress…

This poem is about a seasonal love affair that contains the same torrid energy as the weather, holding the same beauty and inescapably mystery.

Your Truly,

Ruth Elora -x-

P.S. Read ‘Seasons Change‘ if you haven’t yet, love ya xx

 

‘Mentis Inn’ Commentary

 

John McGregor’s “We Were Just Driving Around” is where I initially drew inspiration from for my short story, where speech is used as the main indicator of the character’s personality, age and gender. The speech also leads the reader towards making particular assumptions about the character and what kind of situation they are in. “Mentis Inn” explores the psychological state of a mentally unstable character who suffers from a range of mental health conditions that distort her perceptions of reality. The mental institution she inhibits “Mentis Inn” is initially described as a hotel, purposefully misleading the reader from the offset. This allows the reader, through indications in speech, to decipher that Bertha is psychotic, and that Mentis Inn is not in fact a hotel. Just as John McGregor, I chose the narrative technique of in media res to give the reader a sample of an ongoing narrative that goes beyond the perimeters of my short story.

Specific details about the character’s personality in “We were just driving around” were revealed indirectly through certain idiosyncratic speech patterns. Mannerisms, such as the repetition of “like” and “basically” in a particularly colloquial syntax, reveal to the reader that John McGregor’s character is a teenager in an informal setting. The mental instability of my character is depicted through language and syntax; the fragmented sentences mirror Bertha’s fractured and unstable mental state, which is expressed in her speech, as she takes various unexpected pauses. My character’s sudden rise and fall of voice volume “BUT YOU MUSTN’T. Speak. So loud” is used to convey that Bertha is bi-polar. Her mood changes at a flip of a coin, stressing the need for her to be in a strait jacket to restrain her potential violent outbursts. The intended purpose of specific diction choices, such as “Shh. Shh. Hush now.” was to create a sense of panic and derangement to convey Bertha’s internal conflict as she struggles to maintain control. This picture of derangement is furthered through descriptive detail, such as “matted silver hair”, which is an external representation of Bertha’s internal torment as her hair is “matted”, highlighting her decline in self-care. I mirror Bertha’s internal decline with her external deterioration to ensure the reader can envision Bertha’s regression in two dimensions.

I chose to leave my ancillary character nameless to highlight the character’s purpose as a tool that is used to illuminate the reader’s understanding of Bertha. This character helps to reveal the reality of Bertha’s situation. The reader is initially lead to believe that the secondary character is simply delivering the room service at the hotel; however, as the plot develops the reader discovers this character is actually one of the workers at the mental institution that takes care of Bertha. This can be compared to McGregor’s “The Chicken and The Egg”, where the subject of the egg was just a device used to subtly unravel the wider reality. Bertha has an obsession with her illusory reality as a result of her psychosis that prevents her from confronting the truth of her situation. To a similar degree, the persona in “The Chicken and The Egg” has a fixation with an egg and projects their fear of finding out about their unfaithful partner on to the egg. Similarly, John McGregor and I drop subtle hints that our personas are actually subconsciously aware of the reality but chose to supress it “and that harsh light. WHY is there, nowhere for me to call room service?” My persona becomes aware of certain truths that threaten the foundations of her illusion and it is through the suppression that my character’s psychosis is perpetuated.

Names are vastly significant in my short story, “mentis” is the Latin word for mental, which gives my title an ambiguous quality through the way “Mentis Inn” can be seen as a double entendre. I chose the name “Bertha” for my protagonist as it is the name of the mentally deranged first wife of Mr Rochester in “Jane Eyre” and as they have similar mental disorders I made my character her namesake. “Bert”, who is Bertha’s imaginary friend, is the male equivalent of Bertha. The lack of imagination portrayed by this name choice conveys that Bertha created this imaginary friend at a young age, so to have a companion that is connected to her by sharing similar names. This imaginary friend has followed her into her senior years “stands of matted silver hair”. Bert is an aspect of her schizophrenia; a voice that was derived from her lonely youth that has driven her to commit heinous crimes. His identity is concealed to propagate the feeling mystery through blurring the lines between reality and fantasy. My story explores the power of psychosis and how reality is shaped through the mind.