Monday, 30 June 2014

Eden Riley, Slam Poet.

Something magical happened.

See, back when I would talk with my brother for hours and hours and hours about life and staying alive and not killing yourself and exactly WHY it was important to keep living .... I had to answer those very questions myself first before I could tell him. And sometimes, a lot of the time, at least half of the time, I didn't even believe it. And he smelt bullshit a mile off and he KNEW I was struggling just as hard as him and he'd smile and laugh and just shrug at the audacious bullshittery of it all, everything, the whole damn fucking planet and its uselessness. Did I ever tell you that I used to cook corned beef just so he'd come for dinner because that was his favourite meal and even though he didn't add much to the conversation because he was so fucking clinically depressed and fucked up and desperately, horrifically sad .... I'd get to see his face. It was such a selfish thing for me to do, to cook corned beef just to see his face.

I wonder how long I made him stay longer than he oughta? Because he did love me. He really, really did. Even his friends tell me he did.

And how could he not? I'm fucking awesome.

But some conversations, I would passionately believe in what I was telling him and when I would rack my brain to think of the trick, the spark, the answer to just MAKE HIM STAY ..... I grew impatient and annoyed.

"Cam, if you wait long enough ... if you just get through the hard days and the hard nights and the wanting to die .... mate I swear to fuck magic happens. Little pieces of magic come, they really do. It's true. It's the rules. Nobody can be this down and sad forever. Nobody."

When I got sober I got to experience life in a way I never thought possible before, so I knew magic happened. I had the capacity to feel joy, and love, cast my cynicism aside to feel the utter enchantment and wonderment of life shining on my face. (Sometimes - not all the time. God knows life can suck my penis nice and slow like I like it at this point.)

Anyway so Cam killed himself and I wasn't surprised, oh no. I am pulled apart, like a pullapart loaf from Bakers Delight except it's not delightful. I'm a wreck a mess a failure a burnt charred memory of a big sister. Every single photo I have of me and my brother I am hugging him so close. The past eight months have been hell in ways that I can't describe - except ..... I can describe.

Something magical happened on my way pacing grief town the other week. I entered a slam poetry competition and I won. I won with nothing more than my bare words and the experience of being alive in the world.

The irony, of finding a meaningful experience of his death in actually performing a piece about his death to a roomful of people. I wrote a poem called Strong Bones and I practiced it in my house hundreds, maybe even a thousand times. With rage and tears and fury and sorrow, I paced all of the rooms when nobody was here and I practiced in each. I did it best in my son Maxs room, because it has all his shit in it and his smell and his heart and it helped. I am so consumed with grief that the only way to alleviate it is describe it and perform it. I won my heat so I go down to Sydney in a few months to compete in the state finals, to decide who represents NSW in the Australian Poetry Slam Championships.

Me, the unbelievable talented Luka Lesson, and the other winner of the heat Riley Callan

I'm so sorry that I can't show you my poem yet because I'm still in the running, but I promise I will soon. Because that night was the most magical night and I need to tell you all of it properly, not just in pieces. My gorgeous friend Rachel Besser came for moral support and when I walked off stage she grabbed me into her arms and the entire room was silent except for my loud, loud sobbing. My favourite stepdaughter Phoebe Rose came with her friend Issy and we all celebrated afterwards at the Carrington. I bought a round of cocktails for them and a very strong lemon lime and bitters for me and I rang Dave and woke him up and he was SO proud of me, I could hear it over the phone line.

                                       I spy Phoebe Rose in the foreground!

Grief and suicide and my dear sweet brother ... they are not even the only things I'm going to write about! I'm 42 fucken years old and never had a career until right now. I'm a slam poet, it will be on my headstone. I want to write about my face as it ages and how utterly beautiful and powerful I was when I was eighteen. I'll write about the junkie in me who will never go away and is there a cut-off point for giving blow jobs because srsly my knees and I want to write about how surrealism saved my life and how my grandfather was a P.O.W. who kept escaping and I think a bit of his fighting spirit broke off him and went into me because I keep fighting. (And just because Cam stopped fighting doesn't make me better than him. He got tired. My god he was so tired.)

So I'll channel this hurt and pain and grief into something I can build a raft out of, maybe live on for a few years because fuck drowning I prefer to breathe in words not water. I have always, always loved words and now they are starting to love me back.

Blogging here consistently for so many years has taught me so much about writing and I need to thank you for reading. I'm not going anywhere .... actually, I'm just getting started.

I've written a few poems since, and a common theme is convincing people to stay alive. I couldn't convince my brother but maybe I can convince other people because did you know magic is real? And maybe the thought of me being able to save other people from suicide is egocentric to the MAX but it sure beats being suicidal myself.

Luka Lesson was crowned the Australian Slam Poetry Champion in 2011 and he was the MC for the Katoomba heat. He performed some of his stuff, holy wow. The night was incredible, thoughtful, moving, funny. SO many peoples experiences in the world, all told by them.

Look what Luka does with his words:

This kind of storytelling can be personal, political, social activism, rageism, ageism, love letters, everything all rolled together into one smokin' joint of human experience.

I'm home. I'm a slam poet. I'm going to write the truth because it is so fucked up no WONDER so many people run from it. And I'm going to write about how I will never cook corned beef ever again.

Fuck corned beef. Fuck it to hell.

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Write to be understood, speak to be heard. - Lawrence Powell

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