The Bacchae: Dionysus goes raving

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Bacchanalia Theatre will be performing an immersive production of Euripides’ The Bacchae, and I have been privileged enough to write for this show. It is both a wild, magical party and a revealing insight into trust, control and gender. Come and join the maenads on the hillsides for a Bacchic 90s rave, then watch Pentheus get torn limb from limb by his mother. What’s not to love?

Two week run at COLAB Factory near London Bridge, don’t miss it!

To whet your appetite, here is a little taste:

You wanted this

You came to me
dripping with honey
unfolding before the sun
skin burning
shielding your eyes.

You wanted me

You invited me in and I came to you.

Remember this:
it was your trembling lips
that formed my name.
I came to you
because you wanted me.

Book tickets here!

 

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Love for Intellectuals

(c) P.M. Kroonenberg

(c) P.M. Kroonenberg

We speak in code. We generalise, but we are talking about ourselves. Men means ‘our men’. People means ‘me in particular’. Our wishes for our future and the way we see our lives now are encoded in the latest book that seemed so true, or our new theory on love. That is how we talk.

“All relationships have problems that can’t be solved,” you say. “You just need to find a way of living with them.”

“I think people are always searching for grace,” I say.

We sip our peppermint tea, which makes you feel so healthy, our cranberry juice to ward off cystitis.

In the coffee bar where you spent every afternoon of your youth – or was it beside that fruit stall selling nothing but lychees? – the curtain is rent and your eyes wide with fear tell me about you and him. I have seen you speechless with love and helpless with misery. I put an awkward arm through yours. I have theories, lots of theories. But they are really about me.

I want to write your life in curves and flourishes and give it a happy ending. Instead, I buy you a chocolate croissant and we hope for the best.

For Ellie

Birth Nostalgia

My son was in hospital for a few nights recently. It was the same hospital where I had both the kids and I found myself feeling curiously nostalgic, especially as my daughter’s 2nd birthday was imminent.

Fond Memories of Pain

It was horrendous
And the pain overwhelming
And I thought many times:
Does the gain really weigh up
Against this agony?

Then why do I feel nostalgia
As I squeak along the floor of this corridor?
This corner, this lift,
Where I was doubled over lowing
Like a cow as you pushed lower
To make a swift entrance into the here and now.

The sign that says “Delivery Suite”
Fills me with a warm sweet glow
Of love and remembered love:
This is where you meet a whole new person
Who is you and him but not you or him at all.

Who cares about pain when after all
That straining and pushing and the swearing,
The blame: “Never touch me again!”
You get to hold that feather-weight
And watch a soul unfold?

She meets the sea

She meets the sea

The creeping fingers of a nearly-spent wave
advance on your tiny frame.
Digging your toes into the sand,
you stand breathless
as the spray splashes up
into your beaming face.
We drift left with the waves,
foam floats on your tidal bath-
You are fearless
Freezing
A glob of snot hangs from your nose,
but there is no time for tissues
when the sea is towering and crashing,
soaking you to the skin.

(c) Judith Kingston, 2014

Not so secret racism

Sometimes certain political parties dare to darken my door with election leaflets. This is what I would say to them if I wasn’t afraid they’d come back later with more friends/big dogs/guns.

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I am still different

 

My form may conform
to the local norm
as I open the door to your leaflets
that spew forth your bile
against others and strangers,
that warn of the dangers
of letting us in.
I know that within
I’m what you think is so vile
so I smile.

You see,

With malicious glee
I do all those things you’d expect from me.

I take your jobs
and I live in your houses
I sit in your queue for your A&E
I use your library,
Take up space on your bus
I even vote for my local MP

I say “We”.

I watch your news

I stand in your queues
My car appears in your Google Street Views.

I’m using your water
I’m breathing your air
Flush my wee through your sewers
Your pipes are clogged with my hair

best of all:

I made children
bilingual half breeds
growing like weeds
spreading my seeds
my foreign ideas
shooting roots over years
until decades from now
you will look around
and find Britain has changed
is no longer the same
because I changed my name
and staked a claim
on your country, your land.

I’m sure you’ll understand
I’m sure you’ll forgive
You’ll live and let live
Because you don’t need to fight
someone like me, you’d say –
I am okay, I can stay:

I am white.

(c) Judith Kingston, 2014

 

You can hear me read this at Stephanie Arsoska’s Virtual Open Mic Night.

Trauma

2013_07_01_H13786FR_AixLesBains_BladI wrote a poem as a tribute to all the wonderful writers that I have got to know over the past few years.

 

Trauma

 

We stretch out a hand
and leaves turn
reluctant or relieved
to show the shadow-side
of the statue hewn
polished and displayed
for eyes other than our own.

It is no surprise.

What propels us to
page after page
of verse or prose
rhyme, metre, blank,
with plot or not
but a violent reflex
to puke up our pain?

Inside it lurks and eats
until we waste away
but here held in my hand
it is less than nothing
that thing I shape, control,
fashion into ugly,
beautiful, crafted life.

(c) Judith Kingston, 2014