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You Made It

I’m considering a review on GoodReads for a peak oil book I’m thinking of buying. I’ve read it before, from the library, but I’m thinking it’s worth adding to my personal library. It’s by Sharon Astyk, one of my favourite Futurists. I like her practicality. Her socio-historical contexts where she talks about domestic labour and the industrial revolution, of formal and informal economies, of the gendered nature to work.

I also like that she is a female writer in a pre-dominantly male domain. For most peak oil and climate change writers are men.

This male—as-expert focus surrounding the writing and thinking about certain global issues is an interesting phenomenon and not one I plan to try to answer here. It is too large. Too complicated. What I do want to do is explore a little of what Astyk writes about from her female point of view. That is, its nuances and focuses of small-scale actions on the domestic stage.

Pouring tea

Astyk was an academic. She was studying towards a literary PhD. Then got concerned about The State of The World and with her husband left graduate school, moved to live in rural upstate New York and became a farmer, stay-at-home mother and writer. She now grows and puts up vegetables. Sells meat and eggs. Raises kids who know the names of plants as well as Pokemon.

She lives a Good life. She certainly thinks so. It’s not an easy life by her own admission, but it is a good one. There are few sleep ins. Not a lot of extra cash. Patience, I imagine, is tested daily. But there is also an incredible sense of security. She knows how to be nearly fully self-sufficient in food. How to heat and cool her house according to the seasons in a low energy manner. She can survive without electricity for more than a few hours. She’s done so. Tested it for a whole week. She made do.

The book she has authored that I am considering buying is called ‘Making Home.’ This phrase seems to me to be at the heart of the much-needed attitudinal shift from ‘buying all’ to ‘making do.’ Home making in this sense serves as a way of living where there is a sharp change from habitual consumption patterns to a more dynamic and creative approach.

Living with less does not need to only be about doing without. It can also be about living more creatively and using what you already have in a different and more imaginative way. This, to me, is not only hopeful regarding the sheer mass of stuff produced by our current industrial capitalist world but it also heralds a more fulfilling way of living. I really do believe that we can change the world for the better through the things we make.

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Resolute – A Re-evaluation

So far this blog has been a haphazard poetry blog where I have explored issues relating to my personal feminine experience. There was also the poem titled ‘An Arthritic Love Affair’ that chronicled some of my feelings of living with a chronic pain condition.

2018 served as a year where I used pain as creative material. This was useful. Cathartic even. But I want the coming year to have a slightly different focus.

I will still use poetry and words to process the world around me. If I didn’t do that, I wouldn’t be being true to myself and the identity called ‘Writer’ I so wholly and fully embrace as part of who I am.

But in addition to my creative lyrical work of poems, stories and my longer ongoing novel project I seek to write a bit more about The World ‘Out There.’

It’s not going to be a Trump rant. Or an environmental diatribe. Although it would be easy enough to do either. No. I plan to write about the ways I manage a very frightening world. This is a world that is shit scary even for someone who does not struggle with anxiety. And I am a worrier. I worry well. It’s a not-very-well-kept-secret skill. One marked by bitten nails, nervous tapping feet and a sometimes too inward focused self-obsession.

As a feminist I hesitate to ascribe myself to such words as ‘domesticity’ and ‘women’s work.’ However, the areas I find myself gravitating towards in my daily life in order to cope with this (I quote myself) ‘shit scary world,’ are those of the hearth and home. Cooking, baking, gardening and textile crafts like DIY dressmaking and knitting.

This gravitation towards the domestic is a theme I hope to explore more in future blog posts drawing on the writings of investigative journalist Emily Matchar and peak oil writer Sharon Asytk as well as radical homemaking advocate Shannon Hayes. These three women all negotiate women’s roles and rights in the 21st century in slightly different, but I feel, equally interesting and important ways. But more on that later.

The domain name of this blog ‘Geographic Hearts’ was created on a whim of fancy. I liked it for its poetic effect. And its intended obscurity of meaning. I imagined it as a fashion label marked in a flowing cursive script adorning locally made eco-dyed clothes in soft earthen hues. It would claim rights to upcycled denim dresses with gradations of blues like a twilit sky. It owned the look of nana knit cardigans upcycled with velvet flower and bird-in-flight-embroideries.

However, as cool as it would be to have Geographic Hearts purely as a poetry/ fashion blog, I have evolved alongside it. I now realise how suitable this name is for all I hope this blog will grow to be. The title (as stated in my bio) is about loving where I am in the world.  While that is my little South Pacific city of Wellington and the islands of Aotearoa New Zealand it is also, I think, a feeling one finds inside themselves. This is a feeling most of us search for with no map, compass or even any sense of direction.

So, this blog will contain (as well as poems) missives about the World I find myself in. Both daily routines where tea stews in vintage tea pots, i harvest herbs from my container garden and I make time to watch the sky, but also the Wider World and my interactions with the politics and issues of our times.

How I negotiate, process and make sense of them is the story I hope to convey in this blog. It is a little bit alternative, or ‘hippie’ as my brother would say. There is a distinctly green tinge to its politics. There is also an overarching theme of believing in the power of creativity to get you through.

I leave you with these questions. Where is your ‘Geographic Heart?’ Is it a place? A feeling? A person? A pet? A favourite dress or pair of denims? Is it all the above? Do you feel safe in your skin? Do you want to change the world by loving it from where you are right now?

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A POEM: Apology

 

The world is saying sorry today.

Sorry for the things she can’t control.

 

Like Earthquakes.

And Volcanic eruptions.

And over-population.

 

The first two are functions of geology.

While the last is the fault of humanity.

 

Yet we blame Her and ignore her warning signs

Like self-obsessed teenagers with back

Pocket-flip mirrors and candy-flavoured lip gloss.

 

The Earth’s apology is so beautiful though.

It is so genuine.

Even if we don’t recognise it for what it is.

 

Her peace lily skies

(they are that pale, that sensuous)

Lick the face of the world

And with a heart full of flower buds and

Glitter-penned letters we watch her glow

Into being.

 

Today she just wants to be looked after,

To be cared for,

She just wants to be loved.

The State of The World has been on my mind what with the Climate Talks in Poland occurring at present. As the talks are extended I am both filled with Hope that Change will be sparked and also a belly-ache-dread that The Signs will be missed and we will continue to hurtle towards climate catastrophe…

So to process these feelings I wrote a poem. Because writing is how I process everything… Words are how I make sense of My World and The World.

This poem, titled Apology, personifies The World as a Gaia type figure, a romanticized heroine who is saying sorry for the fevers and the fires she creates in gestures of rebellion against the hurt being done to her. Humanity is the mean teenage girlfriend who is more interested in how she looks than listening to the words of Earth.

 

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A Poem: Consummation

I want to wrap my mouth around the globe

As if it were a stripy sweet and me,

A hungry child.

I want to eat the trees. The cars. The cities.

To sip the oceans like a drowning woman, desperately,

Trying to grab a gasp

Of air.

 

But i’m, bad at drowning

( I love life too much!)

So I cough water, like a tubercular mother, trying

To hide the blood.

And from my choke-hold-of-a-breath comes The Things of Dreams

Racy-red-satin-dresses and Hawaiin-black-pearl-necklaces

Peace lily corsages, Diana diamond tiaras, lace lingerie.

The sort of clothes and jewels goddesses should wear

On the days they help make worlds.

 

My World Made New

Has kowhai’s slapping the world yellow,

Sugar cookies dusted with glitter in the shapes of tiny silver stars

And women, naked, as at the end of a strip show.

But this is not dirty entertainment.

This birth.

This is life.

 

In My World snakes are curled like medusa wigs around the bald skulls

Of the chemotherapy women with cut-off breasts.

Eden is the name of a perfume brand by a silver-lashed celebrity.

And apples are collected to be cut and stewed

For The Winter

When even the heart of The World

Grows cold.

This is a poem I wrote about what it means to me to be a woman desperately trying to find things that hold her steady and safe feeling inside herself in a Crazy World.

It uses imagery from fairy tales and folklore (The Drowning Woman, Blood as a transformative substance, words of Goddesses and the The Symbol of The Apple where it signifies love as well as danger.)  

It is what I term in my personal lexicon as a ‘Release and Wretch’ poem. One I wrote quickly with few edits and where it served as a record of a train of thought  as I tried to get a feeling of un-comfortability free from  inside myself. 

The title ‘Consummation’ refers to the completion of a ritual mind frame and the end of one way of seeing yourself in The World and the ushering in of another. 

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A POEM: An Arthritic Love Affair

Pain makes the world real.

Things like misspelt last names

And wrong receipts, pale,

like a shocked at nudity face, because who knew

you could feel this much.

It’s like if you could see your nerve endings they would pulse

Like quickening lovers hearts because there is a world out there

Of cute student boys who talk, awkwardly, about air vent systems and turn

their faces towards you with crinkles in their smiles.

These papered grins speak of textbook evenings and numbered nights,

Countdowns (you, hope) to a date on a Friday 13th because

That means cheap pizza from a place called Hell and dancing

In a black silk dress at a club with roses festooning the clapboard sign because

it’s rock star night and what is metal without romance?

But.

But you only have a smile and a fading memory of a face.

So your nerves are raw

more like the sparklers that burn-to-blacken kids fingers

Close to the quick.

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A POEM: The New Woman

She is switch-blades cut

To-the-thin

Vintage satin ball gowns with hacked-to-short-hems

She is Quant on Ecstasy.

 

She is a rose in an old time movie.

Black to the Heart.

Not evil, as such, but full

Of complicated emotions like lust

And envy.

 

She is a Turn of the Century Designer

Introducing mourning garb to Day Wear.

She is not giving a fuck

Smoking like a train

Sleeping with Russian aristocrats

 

But after, lying in the silk of the night

She wonders

About The Lost Princess

And whether she is still alive.

Poetry

A POEM: The 60’s

 

We’re in mini dresses cut

Like boxes. Peace-throated

We worship Quant and want to go to London.

Be part of The Scene.

You know.

Lennon is the man of our dreams

In his eyeglasses and black trousers.

George has the looks.

But Lennon has the attitude.

We want to be his muse

In nothing but flowers.

A cigarette rose.

Burning to the heart.

Poetry

A POEM: Suffrage

The Quay.

It is bound like an adolescent’s mouth by metal towers.

It sits on reclaimed land.

And don’t forget the crowds of black

As they stride the Friday lunch hours with eco-death

coffee cups and their round-moons of sushi.

 

The law school is on the left.

Wooden library building        beautiful

With its twirls and trod-to-velvet-carpets.

Then there’s Old Government House,

also wooden.

Hiding

Behind The Hive with its buzzes

and its whirs.

 

I was a skinny flower stemmed girl in teal.

Yellow crested.

I ran the corners of a square field

And rebelled in my non-regulation red raincoat.

Head bent

To the books I learned of history and literature

Writing papers on Mansfield and her Doll’s House and

Grace with her tales of collecting pipi from the

Suck of sand.

 

And on my walks across The City to the Cuba Quarter;

(The place where I’ve always felt more at home

Amongst the tatts and

the vegan coffee shops)

I first crossed the streets with Kate the Revolutionary

Saying ‘Yes! Safe to Go’ her face noted

On green-lipped currency

While up the other end of town

there’s Carmen glowing         red

as we in our quickly-changed-into-fake-Doc-boots and

denim-rhinestone-studded-minis step forward

boldly

across the painted lines of the streets.

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Soldier – A Poem

The Territorials

Are training between the library

And the Florists.

 

Khaki braided women and tall

Broad shouldered men running

And ducking, circuit training with

Lick-of-spit-black-shine-boots kicking

Sound

from the stones.

 

There is history on one side in the manuscripts and

leather bound tomes
Death and marriage to the other in ribbon and stamen,

In the fleshy fist of petal.

 

These soldiers in training lift

weights

As if they were flowers.