About Jean Dark

Don't dream it, be it

Making it Real

Jean Dark’s new posting from Creative Writing at The Edge blog at Oblique Arts

MAKING IT REAL

What a great feeling to have reached the point in a project when the long nurtured ideas and plans begin to form and take tangible shape in reality.
The progress of the Edgewords Anthology seems to me to be just at that point. The moment when thoughts turn out to be things.

Last Friday we used the workshop to collectively proof read a rough copy of Edgewords Anthology, and at the weekend I reworked the document. I am so grateful to Munizha for working with me to finalise the text.

Proof copy, Edgewords anthology. Bella Basura November 2017.

Proof copy, Edgewords anthology. Bella Basura November 2017.The proof copy is looking pretty tatty, but quite authentic and very real.

This week I’ve been preparing individualised hardback cases for the contributors (Edgeworders) complimentary copies.

Hard back copies, Edgewords Anthology. Bella Basura November 2017.Hard back copies, Edgewords Anthology. Bella Basura November 2017.Next Friday’s workshop will be a bookbinding session, we will sew and bind our own personal copy of the Anthology.

Hard back copies, Edgewords Anthology. Bella Basura November 2017.

Hard back copies, Edgewords Anthology. Bella Basura November 2017.

Today I spent time with my friend, Simon Mullen, at ASH Co-op. We were doing complicated copying things and printing out the content, the innards, the guts of the Edgewords Anthology.

Printing Edgewords, Bella Basura November 2017.It all went remarkably well, Simon and I seemed to get a system going and produced several dozen copies, pronto!

Printing Edgewords, Bella Basura November 2017.

And so an ephemeral idea steps closer to manifesting materially.

Edgewords Anthology is Launched on 12th January 2018 at The Edge Cafe, Cambridge.

Jean Dark 2017

Thanks to Cambridge City Council, The Edge Cafe and Oblique Arts

Advertisements

A Menopause Monologue

“A cyclical shape/structure ( as opposed to linear Aristotelian male orgasm shape/structure) is a female shape/structure, like the Wheel of The Year, like the cyclical menstrual cycle.

What else?

This circular repetitive structure is ubiquitous in paganism – Wicca etc. Like the Maiden Mother Crone cycle, like the Wheel of The year. Paganism perceives life as cyclic, circular, repetitive, coming around again. Connecting with menstruation, and  menopause is the ending of that cyclic life structure.

Do you remember your last period?

Menopause is something that you only become aware of after it has happened.

Do you remember your last period?

Panos by Carina Úbeda

Panos by Carina Úbeda

Our culture makes menstruating women invisible – tampons conceal the blood, sanitize and…what is the word? …Sanitize and deny the existence of menstruation. So that when it ends nobody’s any the wiser.

During the last 3 or 4 years of my periods I consciously chose to use reusable sanitary towels which had to be washed and dried and folded between uses. There was a kind of flappy thing with press studs that popped into my knickers and the clean towel was tucked into this sling. I had to change the towels every time I bled – like every little flow or drop stained the towel. In order to cut down the mess and to stay hygienic  each towel  had to be soaked in water immediately after removing it – or they became permanently stained. They were made in a fluffy kind of brushed cotton, and off-white – they stained easily.

Because the towels had to be changed and soaked at every drop and drip it was difficult to leave the house, a job of work was impossible. I managed a bookshop at the time – a front-facing customer service role – and I couldn’t have just left the floor, gone to the loo, put the soiled towel into a bucket of salt water and left it in the staff toilet, so I arranged to stay home during my periods, I used my holiday allowance visiting ‘auntie’. This made it important, it made my periods  important, it made me aware of them , to respect the blood flow. I felt I got to know my body more in those few years, how my cycles and needs shifted, than at any other time. It was very empowering, very empowering. I made my cycle visible, acknowledged, not denied, not hidden.

Do you remember your last period?

What else?

Invisibility. Invisible if you’re pregnant, invisible if you’re a mother, invisible if you’re childless.

This is all fitting together. Invisibility, invisibility of periods, cyclic periods, cyclic structure, cyclic time, cyclic pagan-time, cyclic pagan-year.

Do you remember your last period?

Is Paganism feminist? It can be goddess-oriented, but I’m not sure it’s Feminist. Is goddess-worship the same as Feminist? Pagan feminists? Feminist pagans? I don’t know. Just because my Paganism is green, feminist, goddess, earth, animal welfare oriented, I don’t think most Pagans are. In fact, the vast majority of Pagans are…I don’t like this train of thought. Think something else.

What else?

Maiden Mother Crone

(chants) We all come from the Goddess and to her we shall return, like a drop of rain falling to the ocean. Hoof and horn, hoof and horn, all that dies shall be reborn. Corn and grain, corn and grain, all that falls shall rise again.

Cyclic.

We are a circle within a circle, with no beginning and never-ending.

Starhawk, obviously, Spiral Dance. Feminist Pagan Eco-Warrior, par for the course.

What else?

What else?

I remember my last period.

It was Lammas sunset seven years ago. I hadn’t had a period for over six months.

I was at a Pagan Ritual Camp with 200 or 300 other Pagans. It was the last night  of the camp and we had built the Wickerman , processed him through the fields and were taking him to the fire-pit to be burned and I remember passing the Priestess, Carol, skyclad under an Oak, welcoming the procession into the field and I felt SO happy, So fucking happy, so completely at one  with it all, In that place, in that ritual, in that time.

We were casting the circle, and they lit the Wickerman, and suddenly  I burst into tears, I couldn’t stop crying, couldn’t stop. I had to leave the ritual circle and go cry in my tent. I cried hard night long.  I cried a cosmic grief in the pain of the childless mother.

Next morning I woke up and there was blood in my knickers and I thought “Oh wow! That’s what that was all about”.

Lammas is the harvest  ritual, is about reaping what you sow, is about reward.

My reward that year was infertility, barrenness, I don’t like those words – I wish there were more positive words for childlessness.

What else?

Is it over yet?

Has time run out for this monologue?

Or is it just my time that has run.”

This piece was originally written during a week of theatre workshops with RashDash physical theatre group, and was subsequently performed with Scramble Ensemble -women’s theatre collective, on 6th September 2017 at J2 The Cambridge Junction.
The image is of Panos by Carina Úbeda, a chilean artist who created an installation with used cloth sanitary towels mounted in embroidery hoops, embroidered with solgans.

Bella Basura 2017

Poetry

Archive

Psychogeography

Jean Dark

The Short Answer Chapbook for sale here 

Thee Telepaths

Thee telepaths logoWhen I was a child I dreamt of running away with the circus, but now I’ve seen Thee Telepaths I want to run away with a psych rock band. Last Friday they played at The Cat Basket Psychedelic Delights  event at The Blue Moon in Cambridge, alongside local stalwarts Psychic Lemon and Warning Shadows. As I was  to compere the event I spent all week  listening to their Neon Spiral EP online, but hearing them perform War In My Head left me gasping “Oh, its just like Sister Ray said!”. Needless to say, they credit The Velvets  as influences, alongside  The Stooges, The MC5, Black Sabbath, Suicide, The Modern Lovers, Can, Neu!, Billy Childish, Loop, Mudhoney, Spacemen 3, The 13th Floor Elevators, Hawkwind, all these distinctive sounds smear through their music.

Seeing them live I was swept up in their raucous energy, and I was reminded most that they name-check Nuggets and Pebbles ’60s Garage Band compilations on their Facebook page.

Added to this Thee Telepaths have a heart-lurching stage presence that gleamed in the backroom gloom of The Blue Moon. A Wilko Johnsonesque wide-spread low-slung sprawl from bassist Tim often overspilled the space, at times he straddled the stage and dancefloor, so wide did he spread his lean thighs. Singer Dean seemed lost in possession, veering around the tiny stage like Ian Curtis on acid. Clasping his head in the crook of his elbow, grimacing, gurning, jerking a hand-jive that shook his whole body, crouching on the ground, staccato movements that wouldn’t look out of place at a Voodoo ritual. The Singer Loa-ridden called forth Papa Legba, and Baron Samedi on keyboard at his side. Tom, on keyboards, guitar and effects, was strutting confidence, spinning  on the spot, manipulating piano keys, effects pedals and guitar strings with assured dexterity. The drummer, Vincent, an eight-armed Hindu god blurred in motion, beat out insistent in the gloaming upstage.

The whole a heavy writhing spellbound pandemonium, while pinprick coloured lights swept across my eyes and the ceiling.

Thee Telepaths are clearly a band with social media savvy, they are visible on Facebook, Twitter, Bandcamp, Soundcloud and Youtube, but as they are touring  right now, you would be doing yourself a big favour to catch them live.thee telepaths poster

 

Poetry

Archive

Psychogeography

Jean Dark

The Short Answer Chapbook for sale here 

Dreamflesh revisited

In the 1990s one of my favourite small press publications was the seminal  Unlimited Dream Company series – Towards 2012 – it’s editor – Gyrus – produced a stable of beautifully themed cutting edge factual anthologies at the end of the twentieth century.

In 2006 Gyrus started a new journal – Dreamflesh, which he subtitled “A Journal of  Body, Psyche, Ecological Crisis and Archaeologies of Consciousness”. The list of contributors was an impressive roll call of writers working in marginal spiritual and philosophical paradigm, the whole was a smorgasbord of the strange and the alluring.

Dreamflesh Journal cover art by Amodali

Dreamflesh Journal cover art by Amodali

This month Gyrus has been posting the whole journal online, reprinting the articles and drawing out ideas that have persisted and flourished in the intervening 11 years.

In the web reprise  Gyrus summarises the  project: “Dreamflesh Journal documented an eclectic range of ideas, investigations and experiments informed by this complex ecopsychological framework. Essays, interviews and art ranged over many facets of human and non-human life that seem to be important to this transition: dreams, altered states, visionary media, occultism, sexuality & gender, animism, collective intelligences, psychosomatic healing, bodily symbolism, cognitive linguistics, new materialism, creatively disciplined prehistorical and anthropological studies, images & spirit (iconoclasm, idolatry, anthropomorphism, fetishism), death & dying, depth psychology, ecology… to name a few.”

Back in 2005, when I first heard that Gyrus was planning to edit a new journal I wrote a piece specially, my concern was female facial and body hair and I enjoyed myself writing a selected history of hirsute women. Then I sent in off to Gyrus.

A few months later  I heard it had been accepted. I was delighted to have my piece included in Dreamflesh, it  gave me the biggest readership I had ever had, I felt like I’d arrived, more than this, I felt I’d  been accepted into a publication so inspiring that it left me in awe. And the Journal was certainly well-received, The Guardian called it “a bastion of the esoteric”, and not long after the Journal was released it was reviewed in Fortean Times “There is a dimension way, way out where flesh and dream coalesce, explored by people with names such as Orryelle Defenstrate-Bascule, Gyrus, Bella Basura, Pablo Amaringo and Lars Holger Holm, not to mention the formidible Dave Lee”. And that wasn’t all, wonderfully, Genesis Breyer P-Orridge, the transgender founder of Throbbing Gristle and Psychic TV, wrote of Dreamflesh “I felt EXCITED as I read. No mean feat. I truly was inspired”.

In the original introduction to the Journal Gyrus evaluated the role of traditional publishing in an increasingly digitized world, “The existence of the web can goad us into a sharper awareness of how print media impact the environment, in turn encouraging us all — in both writing and reading — to try to make every piece of paper and every drop of ink count. ”

 

Links

Strawberry fair Armpit Hair

Dreamflesh

 

 

 

 

Dream Theme 2

The second in a new blog series about dreams…

My Dream About Stevie Smith

I sat on the sofa, a blistering headful of ideas burning a hole in my skull, I am filling up and overflowing. I raise my arms up towards the east and I call out the name of my only patron saint,
my role model, my cultural mother, my meme mum.

In My Ethereal Stevie Smith Shoes Bella Basura 2017

In My Ethereal Stevie Smith Shoes
Bella Basura 2017

“Stevie Smith” I slowly begin to sound.
“Stevie Smith” Louder.
“Stevie Smith, I do call on you in my time of need”
And Stevie descended and we pushed our opened hands out to each other, pushed hard palms against each other and she poured her deep intrinsic poet-energy in through the pads of my fingers. A warmth growing through me.
A voice, my own voice, calls me
and whispers close to my ear “Wake up!”

 

Poetry

Archive

Psychogeography

Jean Dark

The Short Answer Chapbook for sale here 

New chapbook in the pipeline

Beginning to think about a new chapbook of flash fiction to self-publish.
I am aiming for a february release,
and here is a preview…

Probably Inappropriately

By Dave Challis March 2017

When you done your tantric kundalini kali-spell on me I was lost enveloped in psychic love-haze, I was drawn, rising, filling, swelling emotions that confused me and had in the past lead to casually fucking someone.
Probably Inappropriately.

Warning bells went off somewhere in the distance and I felt us reflex, in unison, pull back, but stayed long hours, hung in giddy uneasy equilibrium, in circular psychedelic emanations, trident penetrates the sky.

Still. Still. Still.
Waiting, while unseen proto-cosmic arousals reverberate the air,
threatening to immanently unfold sudden into cataclysmic karmic collisions climaxing.
Still. Still. Still.

So we lay down on the bed, fully-clothed in the dull downpour afternoon. Clasped in yogic breathing intensely staring deep into soul-eyes we sank down dipped below the surface entwined long time waiting will you call.
Probably Inappropriately.

Bella Basura 2017

Poetry

Archive

Psychogeography

Jean Dark

The Short Answer Chapbook for sale here 

Poem

I Got My Mole-Jaw Working Bella Basura 2008

Looking Askance
With a Nod to Brain Eno

Do something boring
Discard an axiom
Make a short circuit
Use unqualified people
Take away the elements in order of non-importance
Emphasise repetitions
Don’t be afraid of things because they are easy to do
Use filters
Reverse
Emphasise repetitions
Imagine the piece as a set of disconnected events
Always first steps
Always give yourself credit for  having more than personality
Emphasise repetitions
Always give yourself credit for  having more than personality
Emphasise repetitions
Emphasise repetitions
Retrace your steps
Name the sections
Consider transitions
Mechanise something idiosyncratic
Remove ambiguities – convert to specifics
Cascades
Emphasise repetitions
Tape your mouth
Cluster analysis
Ghost echoes
Emphasise repetitions
Lost in useless territory
Is it finished?
[blank white page]
What mistakes did you make last time

Bella Basura 2017

Poetry

Archive

Psychogeography

Jean Dark

The Short Answer Chapbook for sale here