I recently watched the movie Youth. A tale of two friends grappling with the concept of age and identity. A beautiful piece of cinema, it made me reflect on the concept of memory and time. There’s a moment in the film in which the main characters played by Michael Caine and Harvey Keitel are discussing the fact that neither one can remember their respective parents. I thought to myself, gosh imagine the day that I can’t remember my parents. It made me realize that day is not too far away. As I near thirty (which is something I truly am excited about) I come face to face with the realization that life is moving much faster than I care to admit. What is memory but this spark in your brain that moves synapse to synapse and if that’s the case, do I get a say in when it will stop? Most of my favourite memories have happened in the last ten years and though I know I have many more to come it pains me to think that those that I hold so dear will one day disappear, perhaps to be replaced by something better but regardless, will disappear. I recently also finished re-watching The Office and there is a scene in the finale in which Ed Helm’s character muses “I wish there was a way to know you’re in “the good old days” before you’ve actually left them.” That notion is poignant and rings true. I didn’t know those where the “good old days” and while I look back at them fondly and reminisce with wonderful stories as often as I can, I can’t help but realize that one day those memories will be nothing more than that stranger in the street you walk by who looks vaguely familiar. But isn’t that the point? Perhaps life is nothing more than strangers who seem familiar and it is simply, fleeting.
I was thrilled when I saw this happy accident on my nightstand. It illustrates perfectly what I strive for in being a woman: intellect, independence (sexual and otherwise) and literacy. I am a feminist and thus I believe the world to be an all-inclusive place made up of equality. Of course, this is a slight pipe dream but believing this is what matters for me as I have enough delusion to believe I can make change in the world.
That delusion makes me a writer. I know, I know. How does lit change the world and truth be told it doesn't - at least not immediately. I think of the written word as being a type of time bomb. It's a little piece of power that if read over time by the right people can effect the change it intends. I've seen it happen through poetry. While taking a class on eco-poetics I saw the words of poets effect the way the readers saw the world and current events. It was almost as if the wheels started turning faster and all of a sudden - click.
It's this click that has lead me to take on Henry Miller's rule of writing five pages a day. It won't illicit change but at least I'll be writing towards the click (maybe). Henry Miller's notes were once neatly laid out for me on a desk at the University of Virginia. I poured over them acting as if I had just discovered them under the floorboards when really it was the nice librarian who had pulled them out of the archives for me. It was an incredibly intimate experience as I read the words from Miller to his lover, notes from the editor and parts of the Tropics we were never meant to see. Even though I was sitting next to two of the greatest people I know (pouring over Faulkner's archives) it felt as though I was in a sepia-toned dome and it was Henry and I - alone - putting together his life and process. I left the University feeling a little heavier and yet light headed.
It is through my relationship with Miller that I will borrow the process.
It's the intellect, independence and literacy that will lead me to the click (maybe).
the water flows over the walls and onto the floor the elevator is jammed. How can one person take over an organ in such a psychological way?
Are we able to see the night with the day watch as night throws her heels to the clouds and the day moans between blue thighs. Your blood soaked hand slips through mind. Remember the lady and the sink. I don’t recall when you told me it would be life or death. Alone and surrounded is all the same. The golden era is where I shall go with the black taxi cab as you lay on the silk covered marble lungs filling lungs filling can you
breathe out the words that come to my mind as you lay on the silk blue, everything is blue and cold
the walls sigh as you exhale the clothes are gone and the rocks weren’t so hard.
Pen Pencil Poison: A Study in Green was published by Oscar Wilde in 1889 as an autobiographical essay involving a man he had once known who was both artist and murderer. The description of "pen pencil poison" was given to this man by a poet who deemed that was truly the only way to describe him.
Now where I come in.
For my blog, official in every degree, I wanted to name it something that would truly describe myself and what I am trying to convey here. As it turns out there is nothing that can really describe a 20-something poet and knitter who enjoys weird films and becomes nostalgic at the mention of any punk band from before the aughts. No, that description would probably be a little lame and could most certainly not be tied up in a neat three word title. Thus, Pen Pencil Poison.
I am a literary nerd. Once I found out that Vancouver had an amazing lit scene I've pretty much been to any event that will have me and I've rubbed shoulders with some of the coolest authors this city has to offer. That being said, as much as I love contemporary literature, I just can't get over the classics. This brings me back to Oscar Wilde and his novel The Portrait of Dorian Gray
Nav Nagra is a writer, reader and knitter. She is currently the Ads Coordinator for Room Magazine and is also a member of the Editorial Collective.