Don’t be a reader, if you want to have only a choice. Don’t be a reader, if you want a low passive voice.
The title does leave little for wonders. My first questions when I first saw this title were quite focused on a feminist perspective: why is she a half-formed thing? Because she is a female? Because she is not a woman yet, but a young girl? Or because she needs someone or something to be a girl? Or a female? Or a woman?
Then I started reading it. And from a half-formed thing perspective the reader is pushed into a whole difficult world. Her world. Her reality. Sometimes we are lost. We wonder with her. This girl that leaves her name outside. That takes us into her intimacy without answering the question we first ask, when we meet someone: what’s your name?
But this she does not know. She does not know how to enter the world itself. She does not know anything but her love for her brother. A love which is not always recognisable.
And even though I high rated it, I would still advice you not to read. It cracks something in us. Something I can not explain. It makes us feel unsteady, uncomfortable. With a knot in the stomach. As if we knew we should reveal her secret. We must! But we can not. We can not tell because there is no name attached. We can not feel destroyed because it is fiction. We can not… We can not help her, nor all the other half-formed things in our world. Because, we are half-formed as well. Just like this girl, we just became complete when our story ends. When we close the cycle. But it is shocking how as soon as we open it, we can not stop reading it.
It is now week 2. It is also ten past. Brian storm is here, and so am I. As I ran the slippery stairs with my shinny shoes a man crosses my path, a duvet around his shoulders. It is windy. And cold. And for the second time in this festival, I am late.
This time the weekend pass bracelet is bright yellow, as the one I once wore at the hospital. It seems like ages ago. With the help of my fingers I realize it was ages ago. Entering this room I am getting so used to while heading to my favourite and only seat, helps to smooth my uncanny notion of time and how it flies. Also, how ironical and annoying time does not seem to fly when I’m on a plane. These are the kind of things that crush my mind in those twenty minutes of waiting until the marvellous session.
I’ve been waiting with expectancy this talk: Home is elsewhere. Perhaps, since I first saw the festival’s program. The first readings were terrific. The best so far, I dare to admit. One of the stories remind me of myself and my life in London. One of the Nordic writers was talking about how one of his friends used to drive a touristic train in Stockholm, while a recording told the tourists how beautiful the city they were seeing was. And every time he heard that voice playing over and over the same compliments he thought about kidnapping the guests, breaking the radio. ‘yeah, it is true. It is a beautiful city. But there are other streets not as polished, like the one I grew up at’. Those are the ones he wanted them to see, with or without a recording. Those streets are also part of the city. I smile, wondering how this can be perfectly applied to London. Or any other city really. But we can not explain it to others, in fact those streets are a secret we are expected to keep.
During the readings there is space for everything. Especially, fear and loneliness. We hear about a boy who have lived in Finland, since the age of two. But who is asked about his home country even though all he remembers is actually Finland. Feeling an outsider, he decides to buy a snake even though he is terrified of it. Because just like him, it is misplaced between the animals, even if they never get to bite anyone. After that, whenever he had guests they simply ran away with excuses and questions, ‘what if it hides in your toilet?’ or ‘what if it chokes you during the night?’. But his answer remained open ‘what if it doesn’t?’. ‘What if it starts using the toilet as a cat uses a box?’. Just like that, he said everything.
The last reading is about a British woman who wants to leave her home. However, at the airport she is strangely and strongly interrogated about her nationality, simply because she is muslim. Within the serious subject we laugh with each other. Especially after this particular story, we discuss how books can easily become our home, our escape from the world. Or simply feel home for retaining a reality that only we know of. Most times we become refugees of ourselves and libraries can protect us better than a single dominant definition of home.
I think about it again and again, since in libraries we do keep secrets as well. ‘You never control how people read you’, ‘belong is complicated’, ‘Literature is dangerous, books changed me. I saw the darkness in me’. And all of these small bits of information are whispered between the panel and the audience. It is a secret none of us can keep. It is scary, and with words we can cope with the reality of being ourselves. At the end, I did want to question them, but thankfully there was no time. Now I can carry on smiling, and holding the secret for it. Walking away with an advice, ‘if people try to fit you in a box or put you out of it, bring up the snake’.
Escolhi as palavras como cura e caminho. Dou-lhes somente uso a tentar remendar. No fundo, com o desejo que consigo o vento as possa levar. Que cheguem a braços abertos, que as possam abraçar. Que celebrem o que nem sempre posso celebrar. Que marquem a minha presença onde não posso estar.
Vão-me enchendo o vazio, mas sei que não o lugar. Esforço-me para que quando o dia chegar, elas possam contar. E aliviar o pesar. Ergo-me nas palavras e deixo-me levar. Para o caso de por as ter escolhido, já nada me restar.
It was the last talk of the first day. I had an headache and reddish eyes. But the theme was interesting enough: ‘Home is the Mouth of a Shark’. And yes, it was about refugees.
Roughly an hour before I had listened poetry from women who had arrived to this country without their children, their parents, their lovers. People who had their family killed, who can not cook dishes from their countries. People who preferred to die trying to save themselves than to fear their last days alive. And these people dream awake more than we do asleep. ‘I dream’ became the motto to launch a wall of dreams in Southbank. I have them all in a newspaper. More than six hundred. I cherish them and touch the paper carefully, every sentence is meaningful. It belongs to someone. And I know that like Patti Smith I will use this in my art.
Before we enter this next session, a lady is sitting on the floor, the newspaper largely opened before her crossed legs. I can not help but smile towards the match. As if her posture was as rough and primal as the dreams before her and their poetry.
My neck is sore and I do not seem able to focus. I suddenly forget it when we listen poetry in my favourite way, in the poet’s mother language. No translation. It finishes in a strong and familiar way: ‘I want to die in a country where they know how to pronounce my name’ (from what I understood, but the message I got it right).
One more time I find it interesting how the real life assembles the metaphorical meaning of poetry. The poet Hardy could not be present, due to political reasons no one was allowed to leave the country. Still, there she is. Trespassing the physical borders of her country with her poetry and her fears and dreams being read by the rest of the panel. What a magical moment, hearing those voices taking ownership of this meaning with no credits.
Once again, the theme was hard to discuss. ‘Everything written is political’ since it is written in a certain time. Poets were expressing how happy they were now that poetry was not as reviewed as before. However, people do expect them to say the right thing and talk about those themes. Readers have hope. And they put that hope on the writers and the poets in order to be heard. After all, ‘power structures enable your power’. And at the end of a discussion as intense and in such a tense subject a writer shouldn’t have to say ‘Sorry, I swear I hadn’t anything more than coffee’, as they did.
I knew before hand this book would have me, it would own me as literally as I would own it. These pages hold something that is also mine, a shared story which I could never live without. A story that sooner or later will eternally live by its own. From my hand to the world, based in a special request.
I also knew that books that have my tears on its foreword or prologue eternally stay. It became personal before it became an assessment, a challenge before a choice. It wasn’t fiction. It wasn’t a romance. But it was for sure a love story. The one I am most keen of.
When I first started the novel, the lighted word in my bedroom’s parapet shone brightness into its pages. Love was between the words both in a physical and literary sense. It was strengthening its meaning, becoming a mark in my own story.
Lost and found in her art, Patti resembles my written self. What I build through these small posts. What I admire and how I get inspiration from it. What I look for. She even compares herself to Wendy and shows her strong belief in Neverland.
When I got closer to the expected end, I knew I had to finish it somewhere special. I asked for a Caramel Machiatto in my favourite place of the University. Charles Dickens’s words surrounding me. And I cried. Never my sweet sweet latte felt so bitter. I couldn’t help but feel in Patti’s words the painful moment of Robert’s death. I couldn’t help but feel for Patti.
As usual I tried to find a message. But page after page I would find more and more exposed messages, I knew I would not recall them all together in the end. I knew I would read it over and over again. As if it was the first time, an uncanny taste of familiarity. Right now, with tears salting the last bit of my Machiatto, these are the ones I recall. The dreams that walk hand in hand. That make us wave at each other and write prose in our lonely time. And those marvellous paths that cross and certainly will cross again… Later on, I will look for their blue star and remember them. Wishing I had known us in their time, wishing they could see themselves in ours.
Para lá chegarmos fizemos o caminho que o fogo destruiu. E da janela do autocarro já era possível compreender que iriamos bem para o topo daquele mundo rochoso.
Queria ter-me sentado à janela de madeira. Encostada à pedra. Escondida entre as cortinas brancas na brisa matinal entrelaçadas. E de joelhos abraçados ao peito, com uma caneta e papel na mão não parar de escrever o que via para além do telhado. Olhar o horizonte, os montes, a mistura dos dois reinos e dos seus limites. Do sol, das nuvens, do verde que se mantém. Sem saber onde um termina e o outro começa. Se algum chega a terminar. Sem questionar porque se unem. Tudo isto gostava de ter fechado nas páginas do pequeno caderno azul. Mas tempo não o havia. Apenas o sino, a criação humana, o conseguia contar. E tal como o ambiente que nos envolvia, as sessões e os seus temas entrelaçavam-se. As nossas vozes ecoavam pelas íngremes ruas. À noite, entre os penedos a sua geologia cochichava ao ver-nos passar. E da varanda onde podemos admirar as estrelas, apontam-se para as luzes vermelhas ao longe que não conseguimos decifrar.
E dos 0 aos 114 anos, conhecido pelas míticas Marafonas, permanece a alma jovem da D.Alice, as histórias da D. Edite, o som dos adufes- A aldeia mais Portuguesa de Portugal. Mas foi nos suspiros dos penedos que esta voz se foi encontrar, depois do galo de prata, que enchia os seus olhos, se virar.