Living with the Truth Stranger than Fiction This Is Not About What You Think Milligan and Murphy Making Sense

Thursday, 10 June 2010

Poetry and sex


9 Emily Dickinson is the female Sade, and her poems are the prison dreams of a self-incarcerated, sadomasochistic imaginist - Camille Paglia


For a very long time I’ve been preoccupied with the difficulties involved in communication. Words are patently not up to the task. But what else do we have?

I’ll tell you what: sex.

Men are supposed to think about sex every seven seconds. It’s in The Times so it must be true. I think that must be an average over a whole lifetime. I can go a good minute and a half these days without thinking about anything remotely sexual. When I was a teenager, however, as I imagine most males reading this will agree, there’s no gap between one thought and the next: ‘I think about sex therefore I am’ was pretty much my credo.

Many people communicate through sex. And by ‘sex’ I mean everything from innocent flirting with the opposite sex, where both parties realise that it’s nothing more than a game, to having a quick shag in the loo on the Glasgow to London shuttle. The former I have been guilty of – I enjoy a good flirt if only as a way of flexing my verbal muscles – the latter I have not, never having caught the Glasgow to London shuttle.

2 From what I know of sex, both from personal experience and from talking to others, sex has similar problems to language: no one knows what the other is thinking about while they’re “communicating” with each other. For some reason it was popular a while back for women to think of England whilst engaged in the act of lovemaking. American males have been known to think of baseball players (at least according to Woody Allen) but I can’t imagine full-blooded British males thinking about cricket whilst in the throes of passion.

Sex, at least certain aspects of sex, has always struck me as an excellent metaphor for the relationship between reader and writer: someone does things and someone else gets things done to them. I’m trying to get my thoughts inside your head. I try to be gentle but occasionally I get a bit excited and forget this is not all about me. Those poems are usually a bit on the self-indulgent side.

I’ve never had much success with erotic poetry however. Or erotica of any shape or form. I just can’t take sex seriously enough and so in the prose at least I tactfully fade to grey and let the readers’ imaginations think what they will.

This was my first ever attempt at a poem about sex. It’s not very good.


The users stripped
and forced themselves on each other
in shared madness
chasing sweating orgasms.
Lost in heat.

3 September 1983

3 I wasn’t actually having sex with anyone when I wrote this. But I wanted to. Christ, did I want to! I still wanted to six weeks later when I wrote this one. It isn’t quite as clichéd but I have no idea where the biting comes in. The only time I’ve ever bitten anyone I got a thrashing off my dad.


Stroke the flesh
The nipple and the tongue
Naked and sensate

Push inside
In the warm

Bite and hold

28 November 1983

I like the word ‘sensate’ though I have to say. And that’s it, my entire output of erotic poetry. That doesn’t mean I’ve not used sex as a metaphor but I’m come to that in a minute. I’m not sure why I’ve never written more about sex. It’s not as if I’ve not thought about the subject long and hard (yes, that’s a pun) because I have but I’ve always struggled to express myself in words. Sex doesn’t translate well into poetry, at least I have trouble translating it. (Note, by the way, no punctuation and capitals at the start of every line – what must I have been thinking?)

That nipple is the only body bit I ever mention mainly because there’s nothing remotely poetic about body bits whether you use proper names or rude ones and frankly most of the good metaphors and similes morphed into clichés years ago.

I had a friend who thought oral sex was talking about it. Seriously. But I don’t talk about sex seriously very often either. Perhaps it’s because I find it embarrassing but it’s much easier if you inject a bit of humour into the proceedings.

I have a short story called ‘Sex’. It begins:

Yes! This is it. The groundwork’s been laid, the mood set. We’ve built up to it nicely. The situation couldn’t be more ideal. Nothing’s been rushed. It’s the right time for it. We all can see that there’s a genuine rapport here, an attraction. This is real. It’s not believable if it’s not real. Granted, it’s not central to the plot – it wouldn’t matter if it didn’t happen – but really, all things taken into consideration, it should. We should have sex happening here on this clean white sheet and we haven’t. Now, let’s not panic. Everything’s under control. It’s perfectly normal. Things like this happen sometimes. There’s no point in crying over spilt milk. Then again, perhaps that’s not the most fitting illustration. I’ll think of a better one later. It’ll do as a place marker just now. I’m not the first writer to find himself staring off into the distance when he should be getting stuck in, metaphorically speaking. I mean, what is writer’s block if not a kind of cerebral impotence?

4 The story, such as it is, is about a writer’s inability to write about what he knows. He’s been married for eighteen or nineteen years and has had sex countless numbers of times throughout that time, a couple of thousand times at least, and yet he can’t bring himself to bung in a quickie just to keep his publisher happy. It’s nothing to do with taking the moral high ground, it’s just he finds he can’t write the words.

I’m much happier when I’m using sex to talk about something else. Like in this poem:


So, you got inside me finally.
Well, it's where you thought
you wanted to be
but did you ever think
there might be no way out?

Why else do you think
I've stayed here so long?

28 August 1989

5 No, it didn’t take me six years to have sex with the girl behind the 1983 poems, a while, but not six years. This poem is about reader satisfaction. Why do we read? One of the reasons surely is to get inside someone else’s head; a penetrative act. Do you get my point (pun intended)?

Writing has been linked with another sexual act: masturbation, which is what I liken it to in this poem:


About to be discovered his head bowed low
as his hand worked away at the god in his lap,
a religious act and an old one, an act of faith.

You must believe or he won't come.

11 May 1996

When it comes to masturbation it’s all about you. In that respect there’s a fair argument to suggest all writing is verbal masturbation, whether inspiration comes in the end or not. Of course here I’m linking sex and religion like that’s not been done before. Interestingly I did the same in this poem three weeks later:


I jerked off into a poem today.
I couldn't help myself

and it felt so good too:
the words didn't come easily.

I don't like it to be over too soon;
it's a spiritual thing.

You wouldn't understand.

2 June 1996

Probably the most obvious sexual metaphor when it comes to the reader-writer dynamic is that of voyeurism:


Before we start, gentle reader
tell me what you're looking for;
it helps if I know beforehand.

(Because poems are whores;
they become what you want,
but there's always a price).

Or we could just talk if you like. 6
What do you want to hear?
Surely not the truth?

Oh, I see: you like mirrors.
Well that's quite all right.
I have just the thing here.

All it takes is a little imagination.

19 August 1996

Even without the sexual dimension people like to watch. They stand around in case something happens so they can see it live. It doesn’t matter if it’s a car crash – seriously motor racing has to be the most boring sport if the world if it wasn’t’ for the accidents – or a politician putting his foot in it. We like to watch.


When she first let me look
all I could think of was an open wound.
Not that I'd ever seen one
so I don't know why I should think that.
All very Freudian if you ask me.

I've heard sex can be a religious experience
especially the first time
what with all that passion and blood
though I still don't see
why Thomas had to push his hand inside.

But maybe I understand a little.

6 March 1996

Sex, religion and psychology this time.

7 The last examples from my own poetry involve sadomasochism. Not a subject close to my heart I have to say. I don’t get the point of hurting someone or being hurt. Okay that’s not true. I’ve hurt a lot of people with my tongue over the years. I remember a teacher at school once telling me to be careful or I’d cut myself on my barbed wit. I took it as a compliment; it wasn’t.

another darkpoem

I hurt

but I don't want to hurt alone.
I want you to hurt too.
I want to hurt somebody

and you'll do

if only to see the look in your eyes
not understanding why
because there is no reason why.

Let's just do it.

26 July 1996

A title in lowercase! Whatever next?

On paper I can lash out at anyone I want. Do anything. No one can stop me. I have the power. I’m exercising that power now. I’m writing what I want and you’re reading it. You can stop, you can say the safe word any time you like. But that’ll only happen when I’ve gone a bit further than you’d like. And the odds are, since you’ve read me before and you trust me, you’ll let me screw with your mind just a bit longer than someone else. No one is going to stop reading a ten-line poem half way through once they’ve started.

Of course in ‘another darkpoem’ you assume that the ‘you’ is someone else, someone at the time who had hurt me and I want to hurt them back. As best I can remember that wasn’t the case. It’s a poem to the reader of that poem. I wrote that poem to share hurt, a hurt I’ve long gotten over, but the hurt is still out there in the form of this poem. You’re happy to share my sadness or my joy but what about my pain?

8 Okay I’m stretching a point here. Most of the entries in Google under "masochistic reader" are light-hearted. The expression is used flippantly. But what else do you call someone who goes out of their way to expose themselves to something that will upset or hurt them? And where is a safer place to get hurt then in your own armchair with your book in your lap?

Of course, just as you can play the masochist, you can also play the sadist:


If you want
          to hurt me
          don't touch me.
Don't touch me.
Don't touch me
          over and
          over again, in fact

          every chance you get
          go out of your way to

          and very
          soon you won't
          even have
          to be there
          for it to
          work. Can't you
          see, it's working right now?

Friday, 09 July 2004

I don’t think there’s anything you could do to get to a writer than not read his work in front of him. Imagine handing your significant other your latest scribbling, as I do regularly with Carrie, and they put it to the side and say, “I’ll get to that later, pet.” NO! No, no, no, no, no, That’s not how it’s supposed to go. They’re supposed to drop everything (yes, another pun) and fall on your latest thing and tell you how good it was afterwards. That’s what’s supposed to happen.

If there’s one thing that writing and sex have in common it’s the fact that we would rather not do without either. If you’re a writer that is. Sex is available to most people. Writing is not. I have lived without both for extended periods of time and not writing was worse.

In an article in Psychology Today, social psychologist Susan K. Perry, Ph.D. writes about how the creative flow is like sex. She lists four bullet points:

1. In both creative flow and sexual activity, you surrender control.

2. Sex and creativity can each feel blocked.

3. How you experience sex and how you enter a flow state both relate to your personality.

4. Creating can itself cause an erotic charge.

1 Under the fourth header she provides two quotes, one from an anonymous male and a second from an anonymous female poet. Here’s what the male had to say:

It's a kind of Zen sexual energy, because it's permeating things with a kind of tranquillity also. It's the Zen paradox of energy and tranquillity. But it has to be there, that charge, because of the physicality having to be there. And it may just be that's the way in which, chemically, things are being triggered. But it's not the same sort of sexual energy that happens in a singles bar. I guess things are basically sort of procreative, you're engendering something. It's a rush. – Creating in Flow

I can relate to what he’s doing. The first word that comes to mind is “wash” but I think a rush, probably an endorphin rush comes over me when I’ve finished a piece of writing. It makes sense. For x number of minutes or hours I’ve been caught up with this particular mental exercise and then I’m released from it. Of course one is going to feel good afterwards. Here’s a few thoughts from an author with a name:

For the past two hours he’s been in a dream of absorption that has dissolved all sense of time, and all awareness of the other parts of his life. Even his awareness of his own existence has vanished. He’s been delivered into a pure present, free of the weight of the past or any anxieties about the future. In retrospect, though never at the time, it feels like profound happiness. It’s a little like sex, in that he feels himself in another medium, but it’s less obviously pleasurable, and clearly not sensual. This state of mind brings a contentment he never finds with any passive form of entertainment. Books, cinema, even music can’t bring him to this. . . . This benevolent dissociation seems to require difficulty, prolonged demands on concentration and skills, pressure, problems to be solved, even danger. He feels calm, and spacious, fully qualified to exist. It’s a feeling of clarified emptiness, of deep, muted joy. – Ian McEwan, from Saturday

It’s a description of a guy in an operating theatre actually but I so get it.

For some strange reason people assume that to write about sex you need to have done it. Not so. Says crime novelist Stella Duffy:

People will always assume that I've had the sex I've written about, but not the murder I've written about or the flight across the sky in the magical realist novel I've written. – Is it difficult to write well about sex?, BBC News

10 The best sex always takes place in the imagination not in the bedroom just as the whole reading-writing experience has less to do with what’s going on between the covers of a book than what goes on in the heads of the writer and the reader. For the record the first time I had sex was not a religious experience. It was nice, don’t get me wrong, but it was decidedly underwhelming. Nothing could have lived up to my expectations. Not that I really had anything concrete in mind. I just couldn’t help thinking: Was that it?

The reason I started writing this post was to highlight a couple of poems that have been published recently. There are three poems actually, two of which are about aspects of sex I’ve not talked about so far, casual sex and rape, both as metaphors for something else. Here are links to both sites: Eclectica and The Pygmy Giant. I’ll be interested to hear your thoughts on them or anything else raised (no, not a pun this time) in this article.


Cheryl Anne Gardner said...

Awesome Jim, truly awesome post.

I am one of those writers who feels that sex can be a powerful metaphor if used properly, so I am so with you.

I have to read this entire post again. And check out the poems when I am not at work.

Glenn Ingersoll said...

FINDING OUT THE HARD WAY & TOTEM are so far my favorites of your poems. They have a concentration & anger about them that makes them vibrate.

"I wish you weren't so sensitive," my husband has said to me. Who would that be, the Glenn not sensitive? He wouldn't write poems, that's sure. Why would he? Poems are exquisitely sensitive to meaning, tone, suggestion. Like me.

Jim Murdoch said...

I think that’s the key, Cheryl, if used properly. Or at least not just used for the sake of it. A little, as they say, goes a long way. And no, that’s not a double entendre.

And, Glenn, thank you for that. I’m always interested to find out which poems strike a chord with people. I have a collection coming out shortly and one of the problems I’ve kept avoiding is not simply what poems to pick but what order to put them in. I think of my poems chronologically and when you read them that way you can definitely see a change in my moods. Many of the poems written around that time were a result of frustration rather than out-and-out anger.

‘Sensitive’ has unfortunate connotations. Why not simply be the guy who’s in tune with stuff? I think your wife could live better with that.

chiccoreal said...

You can be indirect like a metaphor or direct like page 93 of Mario Puzio's The Godfather which still rails me since I'd rather not say. If you look at the act from a metaphysical point-of-view than you are on the track to discovering that everything the human is (according to psychologists) is sexual. We are sexual beings. To this end (pardon the pun) we must understand why this need to "connect" or to "communicate" is so vital or our human beingness. I am finding out how much time I wasted or found by the very fact that I am looking at myself from "what was I thinking; oh yah, I wasn't thinking". The base animal versus the soul seeking need of advance communication. As a writer; it is all up to you how you want to approach a story; either physically with lots of fleshy language or metaphysically like the romantic poets or DH Lawrence with many metaphors, and silly symbolisms. Remember the mud in Lady Chatterly Lovers. HOw could that be banned. It discussed love along with the roll in the mud. It was a fine mix between the two spiritual versus physical worlds. The best of both worlds is a bit o' alright with me. And BTW I LOVE your poetry. It is unique, and individual, this is what is art. Unique individual craving to express his/herself to the public like an offering; not being sure exactly how the "offering" will be accepted by the public; the fellowship of spiritual communicators of all kinds. A collective being who wants more than anything to love and be love. It was a one time called "love"making was it not? Let's put the sensitivity back; the coarseness is less than what I'd care to read or think about. ps about the stick figures; the doggy one why? I dont know. Who needs Cialis when you have these "use your imagination stick figures'? Gettin' yer jollies on with ol' sticky!Those Kama Sutra illustrators could learn a thing or two! So bendable like Pokey and Gumbie! Love it! (heehee). I find writing this style too easy. Like I want to be known for my brain not my braun which is wrinkling you know. You know?

Titus said...

Interesting post, Jim. I don't think I've ever been inclined to write directly about sex, which interests me in itself.
I liked "Poem On Tissue Paper" best.

Jim Murdoch said...

What I find strange, Titus, is that I was thirty-odd before I started writing about it. Why not beforehand when I was thinking about it every seven seconds? I mean, I moved out of the family home when I was nineteen. I can see maybe not writing about sex then in case someone found my poems but why not after? All I can think, as is the case with many of my subjects, I don’t do a very good job of things I’m too close to or involved in. By thirty-seven I could be a bit more objective about sex. It took that long to gain some perspective. But still, I’m surprised I didn’t at least try and pen something in my twenties.

Kass said...

Why is sex so endlessly fascinating? Just how many ways are there to do it? Your drawings provided a few insights and you've managed to provide humor and interesting juxtapositions to a subject that is really overworked in the media.

I enjoyed your poems a lot, especially the 'hurt me' poem. You put such a unique slant on things. It makes me think in a whole new way. I like that.

There are those who would say any passion we have has a sexual underpinning. Could be.

Jim Murdoch said...

You’re right, Kass, sex is everywhere and it no longer has quite the effect it used to have. I’m all for the remystification of sex. It’ll never happen. I remember a seminal British science fiction drama, The Year of the Sex Olympics from 1968 which predicted a future where all we would watch would be lowest common denominator programming and pornography. And every year the boundaries keep getting pushed a bit so that I’m honestly not sure what would shock me anymore. Or excite me.

As for sex being the driving force behind everything I’m not convinced. It used to be with me but I’ve always assumed that was a reaction to a childhood being told how wrong sex was which caused me to lose perspective. Freud everyone knows believed that sex was Man’s primary driving force, Jung believed it was the need to belong, Adler thought is was the need to master things. I recently learned that Viktor Frankl believed it was meaning. Funny how none of the suggested love; that had to come from a pile of hippies.

I’m also curious why sex is listed right at the bottom on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs as a physiological need and then again under ‘Love and belonging’. I imagine the difference is summed up in the two expressions, ‘having sex’ and ‘making love’.

Dave King said...

I go with Glenn when he emphasises concentration and anger, but I think I preferred Silent Echoes and Casual Poetry, especially the latter. Some of the issues you throw up in the post take me back to your comments on my current post: the questions of why and for whom was the poem made and the difference between exposing (pun intended) in isolation or in public. (I'm still working on those issues!) The business about how often we think of sex requires a definition of what we mean by sex, I think. Some (myself included) are inclined to think that all appreciation of beauty is an off-shoot of sex. When you admire a tree or a landscape you are doing something sexual.

Jim Murdoch said...

I’ve always drawn a line between why a poet writes a poem, Dave, and what readers get out of it. In the introduction to my forthcoming collection I talk about poetry being a form of exorcism and that basically once the poem’s done I’ve worked out what I was trying to work out – or at least a part of it – and then I’m done with it. What other people make out of what I write is beyond my control and I generally don’t interfere except in articles like this which are written to give other writers an insight into how I write. I can’t image than some artists also approach their canvases and sketchpads with the same mindset, to get rid of an image, to transfer it onto an external medium. Whether that image is then framed and displayed publicly is another thing completely. The main reason I choose not to let loose certain poems on an unsuspecting public is that they are bad poems although in an article like this I’m pretty happy to include anything that I think my readers can benefit from, even bad erotic poetry or the occasional piece of juvenilia.

Over the years I’ve refined what I look for as far as sex goes. I’ve experienced everything I had any interest in experiencing and found that much of it was overhyped. It’s like music. When I was a kid I liked noise. Even when I discovered the classics the pieces that I listened to over and over again were dynamic and percussive which is why I probably enjoyed the Russians so much. And as far as sex went all I wanted was to do it. Who I got to do it to or indeed what “it” comprised of was just the icing on the cake. Now it’s subtle things that titillate me. I want to be excited. I don’t care if it’s music, or films or books and it’s the small things that I look for. And so I suppose in my old age I’m becoming more of a sensualist than anything else.

Does that mean if a woman bends over and I am blessed with the perfect angle to peer down her top I don’t look? No, I look. And I delight in what I see. Even after all the breasts I’ve seen in my life I’ve never become bored with them but I’m not sure what causes me to look these days. I suspect it’s more habit than anything else. I’m supposed to look. And so I look. I wrote a poem about that once:

      I Spy

      You shouldn't look at women's chests;
            they mind if you look.
      They know you can see
            but you're not supposed to look.

      But you're allowed to notice;
            they expect you to notice.

      It's hard to see why you can't look
            at what you've just seen
            but those are the rules
            even though they don't make sense.

      21 October 1997

Art Durkee said...

I wrote my first erotic, sexual poem when I was 14 or 15, and I've never stopped. Of course I kept them mostly secret for many years, only revealing them when I was an adult and not living with my birth family anymore. I can truthfully say that the longest poems I've written, in terms of number of accumulated lines have been about sex. There was one long poem that I started when I was 16, and picked up and put down and wrote and re-wrote and added to for a dozen years before I pronounced it complete. You've seen my long poems to Walt Whitman, or at least one of them, which also fall into this category. I've never not written poems with erotic, sensual, and/or openly sexual content. One of the greatest aspects of poetry is its ability to marshall fresh metaphors for universal experiences, such as sex and love and death.

The great god Pan is the god of panic, but also of life-force. He's the Green Man on your cathedral walls. He's the awakening of plant life and animal life in spring, the nesting urge, the procreative urge, the fecunditive urge.

The Greek god Eros was not a cute chubby little putti like in Renaissance paintings, he was a god of chaos and confusion as well as erotic and sensual love. Eros had a sister, Eris, goddess of discord. Dionysus and Eros sometimes overlapped in their attributes and their functions, creating further chaos.

I can't imagine a poetry disconnected from the soma, the kinesthetic body, the physicality of being. Or rather, I have seen many such poetries, but find none of them fulfilling. One of the best criteria for judging a poem is, does is engage you in your guts as well as in your mind.

Art Durkee said...

Maslow's pyramid of hierarchical needs starts at the bottom with the physical survival, bodily needs, and gradually ascends towards cerebral and spiritual needs. It's an elegant formulation. And it directly corresponds to what many mystical teachers have also said.

Maslow was a psychologist who was interested in transpersonal and what he called "ocreanic" experiences. That is, those transformative and powerful moments in which we are taken right out of ourselves.

Freud began in medicine, with a medical degree, and therefore he shared medicine's 19th C. view that what needed to be studied was what goes wrong. The focus has always been on pathology—what goes wrong, what fails, what kills us—rather than on what is normal, and what goes right. Maslow was one of first major psychologists to focus on what goes right with human nature and human psychology, rather than what goes wrong.

His pyramid of needs demonstrates visually the hierarchy of needs that those great psychologists called monks and mystics have always said:

it's really hard to think about enlightenment when you're starving, have no place to live, or in need of medical attention. The basic needs must be met before the more sophisticated needs can be addressed. But they MUST be addressed. We're designed to keep climbing up the pyramid; we're intended to evolve up the ladder. Not down.

Jim Murdoch said...

Yet another way in which we’re different, eh, Art? I think part of my problem is that I tend to compartmentalise my life. I always liked the Roman approach to architecture, different rooms with different purposes included (and I know it’s disgusting but I loved the idea when I first read about it at school) a vomitarium – no self-respecting Scottish home should be without a room to puke in. And so sex, although I’ve never only had sex in the sexarium, I’ve always had sex according to my own set of rules. Part of me whinges about rules but I also find a degree of comfort in them. Whereas I see you as an open-plan kind of guy (and there’s nothing more open-plan than nature); sex does not have a single “place” in your life.

As for the Maslow, I understand how the triangle works, I just found it interesting that a) sex is described as a need when many people live for years without it and b) it gets two entries on the table, to distinguish the different aspects of the single act.

Elisabeth said...

I started to read your post yesterday, Jim and have come back to it a couple of times, not only out of a need to re-read but also because I've been twice interrupted in my efforts to respond. Make of that what you will.

Tonight I'm looking after our grandson for the first time over night. I've set him up in our spare bed with the thought I might need to leave my own bed to attend to him if he wakes in the middle of the night.

It's a long time since I've had to do this. I wonder where such a need exists along Maslow's continuum of needs.

This is a wonderful post, Jim. I agree that there is nothing harder to write about than sex. That said, as I read your post I thought of Antje Krog, the South African poet. Now if anyone can write about sex, and life, blood and the body, emotions and much more besides, Krog can.

Here's an example roughly translated by Etain Lavina:
Antje Krog's poem, First Night:

Out of the abandoned body of the house
he came into her room
and with the opening of the door
everything, blinded like a peach tree, starting to bloom
he was alone in the mirror of the moon
the v of his chest
the supple curve of the hip and the slender thighs
came and stood shyly before her bed:
-under white split pyjamas
high peek waiting
saw the soft shell of his gender-

he was young and beautiful in his blond strength
his hands already grown up in its gentleness
his eyes blossom soft
and above the house, in the irresolute night
the first stars began to turn
as if they waited since her birth
upon these signs

when he came to lie against her like a calf
the sheets pulled under his chin
she wanted to tell him a story
like her mother told them when they were younger
but the windows went pale
so that they can turn speechless facing each other:
even if he broke through plated years
from a doll’s house, with little curtains that
blows through the window,
made a grown up house
that has furniture of peace, that soaks daily in the sunlight

he wanted to own her
not like a child, a Viking with blood and power and noise
but slowly like a flower
turns its head by itself to the sun
because in the big fruit of his laugh
she was his
and he moved in with meaning
always between her and the virgin source of power.


A woman's sensibility perhaps. To me wondrous.

What do you think of it?

Jim Murdoch said...

I had a look at some of Krog’s poetry, Lis. I can’t say that her writing jumped off the page and grabbed me apart from ‘Country of Grief And Grace’ at least the first section, ‘a’; it got a bit long after that. Some of ‘Where I Become You’ was alright too. If I was to try to describe her work, at least what little I’ve now read of it, in a single word then ‘passionate’ would probably be my first choice. I found ‘First Night’ a bit slushy if I’m being honest and not to my taste; I used to be more of a romantic but not so much these days I guess. Her ‘Defence of Poetry’ was interesting and put her poetry in perspective a bit for me:

“We can debate about this or wonder at it, but the oxygen-giving quality of poetry can never be removed from it. Poetry is fundamentally a self-delighting inventiveness, something that takes pure pleasure in making use of language to catch something of the world.”

Were I allowed a second word after ‘passionate’ then I think I would go with ‘joyful’ which again I find hard to relate to. I can just about manage ‘happy’ at the moment. I think out and out joy is a way off yet. I guess I’ve never been much of a relisher. Which perhaps accounts for the lack of erotic poetry over the years.

Art Durkee said...

I like the open plan vs. closed room (compartmentalized building) analogy very much. I'm going to steal it, if that's okay. It's true that in architecture as well as sexuality, I like the walls to be mostly windows, so that you feel like you're outdoors even when you're under a roof. Having visited some architectural masterpieces of the modern era, including Wright's Fallingwater, this tendency has only become more clarified over time.

When I lived in Java, Indonesia, I spent a lot of time under the roof of a pendopo, a peak-roofed open-sided pavilion which is the classical Javanese courtyard building, both for ceremony and for welcoming guests. So that's another example from architecture that translates towards pansexuality.

Jim Murdoch said...

Steal away, Art, steal away.

gamahucher_press said...

Hi you might be interested in some poems by colin leslie who is Australia's leading erotic poet -his poetry has been archived by the National Library of Australia for being of cultural value

"Gamahucher Press/colin leslie dean was selected for preservation by the National Library of Australia. This title is scheduled to be re-archived regularly. The publisher's site may provide more current information."
You can view/download all his free poetry from\

here is some of his Sufi/mystical poetry all free for view/download

Jim Murdoch said...

Thanks for the links, Colin. As you’ll note from the dates of the poems in my article it’s been a while since I’ve written much about sex; I’ve pretty much got it out of my system. But it’s good that your poetry’s been archived by the National Library of Australia. They say once our stuff goes online that it’s there forever. Somehow I don’t really believe that.

Ping services