Today is a real treat for Patricia’s Pen with my special guest, Ankh Spice, all the way from New Zealand. Ankh’s come along to chat about writing so without further ado, it’s over to Ankh.
Sitting down to ‘write about writing’ and all I can think about is how defiant an act it is to create. How weirdly human it is to unspool visions out of a black box balanced on a spine. How lucky we are, if we find our thing and take up our tools of conveyance: words, paint, sound, movement, and out the other end, new art coalesces and converses with other people’s visions, a sort of chorus of those-who-persist-in-hope through their time. And I include in that chorus those who make to observe, document, witness, creations driven by even the most cynical academic commentary, by trauma, or sprung from what appears to be the depths of absolute not-hope. I can’t help thinking that daring to add to the world in such a conscious, vulnerable way while you’re smack bang in the mess of it – means to gather up a sense of self as something more than a complicated tube existing to subtract and consume. To say some stuff persists. We are not yet lost.
And I know, I know, we keep on proving we’re a selfish, divisive species. My own work shoulders deep consciousness of our evolutionary roots as ape-troupes, constantly figuring out who is the Us and who is the Them, always using each other for social currency in one way or another. I’m not saying no-one is creating for the pure I was here that goes with all this, but it’s also an offering, a sharing, a grasp at common threads. Even selfish art is bigger than itself.
I’m sorry-not-sorry to get so diverted – here’s where I say I’m a poet, not an essayist. This probably should have been a tidy vignette about why I write, a once-upon-a-time, but the world‘s quivering from hit after hit, this pandemic, a hundred wars, climate disaster and ever-growing rifts between us all. Time is so short, and personal history laid out that neatly feels too pat, so this is for you in the same way that my own acts of creation, even the really personal ones, mean to extend beyond the envelope. I put all of this, and all of that, into my collection, and will be grateful for the rest of my time here to have found a publisher in Femme Salvé who understood why.
The Water Engine is my defiance and my offering, and my appeal to you to find your way of seeing, and your way of adding, maybe by recognising where we all converge. Its pages are open hands full of what I’ve managed to learn and translate – from ape-awareness, from the black-box; feeling, witness, observation, trauma, healing, mess and just plain awe that we keep doing what we do. I’ve spent my life so far trying to give voice to the mesh of internal and external world we all move inside, that convergence that drops a million dazzling secrets a second in plain sight, but which we each see uniquely. All our fountains take from the source. Keep making of that what you will – just keep making. Float whatever you create past your blockages and up into the air, saying: in your face, darkness. Even if we’re wrong, all this hope thing? It was worth it.
About Ankh Spice
Ankh Spice is a queer, sea-obsessed poet from Aotearoa New Zealand, and the author of The Water Engine (Femme Salvé Books, 2021). His work is widely published in online and print journals, with eight of his poems nominated for the Pushcart Prize and/or Best of the Net. His poem ‘New Cloth’ was joint winner of the Poetry Archive’s WorldView2020 competition. He co-edits at IceFloe Press, and is a poetry contributing editor at Barren Magazine.
He’s usually found out on the coast of Te Whanganui-a-Tara, but you can catch him online at:
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