She Is Fire: Poetry and Candy Royalle

Photo by Nicola Bailey Photography. http://www.nicolabailey.com

When she spoke, her words seemed to be coming from another time and place, as if she was shouting to be heard from a distant room, and we strained our ears, desperate to catch every syllable. She spoke of the sea and in my eyes she swam with the colours of the sunset and her voice rippled across the room, splashing intimately against our ears. I sat enraptured in the semi-darkness…

–       Written on the train, Sat 21 May, 2011

________________________________________________________________________________________

I’ve spent months trying to put Candy Royalle on a page and I have to admit – it has been harder than I thought. This strikes me as odd, because I don’t usually write like this. When I’m inspired, the writing usually comes in torrents and my fingers own the keyboard, almost as if they know what to say before my brain registers the thought.

And I have written about her – reams, actually. Disjointed paragraphs in that book and the other, even on my phone – all over the place really. Tackling a hundred different ideas and sensations that never really came together into one cohesive thought process. So here’s take number umpteen.

*

“I will her to want it all”, Candy admits from the stage, half singing, half speaking, staring directly into the collective gaze of her audience.

I drink in the tone of her voice, the sensuousness of her language and try to close my mouth, aware of the cameras deftly roving the crowd at intervals. I don’t want to be caught on screen with my jaw unhinged, but quite truthfully, that is how I feel on this late week night, sitting in this cosy pub enclosure together with a handful of people, watching this otherworldly poetess speak about love, sex, anger and politics.

This is the second time I’m seeing Candy Royalle on the stage.

The first was at a more public gathering, at the Sydney Writer’s Festival. I had seen her speak that same morning with a group of other poets, writers and artists who were using their work to inspire positive social change – a talk I enjoyed enough to want to know more about each of the speakers. So when I saw that most of them were performing that evening at a session of performance poetry, I thought ‘why not’. I had never seen performance poetry before and while I had a sneaking suspicion that I would find it pretentious or silly or downright depressing or all of the above, nevertheless, I figured there should be a first time for everything and decided to go along.

I’m not sure what gave me that first negative impression of performance poetry. I am a lover of language and I enjoy poetry even though it’s not usually part of my typical reading list. For whatever reason though, I had this picture in my head of self-proclaimed ‘poets’ standing on a dim stage with bits of paper in their hands, monologuing at length about their tortured feelings and depressing experiences, beating at their breasts while we sat in the audience trying to stifle our yawns.

So yes. The first time I saw Candy Royalle on the stage, I went with the eyes, ears and mind of a skeptic.

The poets who performed before her pleasantly surprised me – I marveled at their clever witticisms and wordplay and laughed at their impressions. I was enjoying myself. Candy was one of the last to perform. She had already intrigued me that morning – from her appearance, to her direct introduction of herself as a queer Arab woman, to the gentle huskiness of her voice, to her opinions on revolution and social change, to an excerpt of one of her poems that she had briefly performed. Continue reading She Is Fire: Poetry and Candy Royalle

Feet

For Sumani

Sumani in Anuradhapura, Sept 2010 – just 3 months before her passing.

 

A house – not empty

But left cold by your absence

Chills me more than the

Weather outside.

.

I step inside,

And feet already cold from the outdoors

Get colder still

Despite safe haven from the wind.

I take a hesitant step towards the

Gloomy black of the back rooms –

Once your cheery domain

And my happy playground.

.

Today I force my feet

To move in that direction.

.

Another step…

…and yet another…

Each weaker and more faltering than the last.

.

My foot rises once more,

Hovers in still air,

The step incomplete.

Suddenly shy, it drops back a pace,

Whirls on its axis,

And bears me away from your memory.

.

Too soon.

* Continue reading Feet

walk-around city.

Rain, by Deshan
colombo,
i wish i could walk around you.
on a whim,
on a fancy.
on a silly dream,
to wherever you’ll take me.
.
i wish i could walk your streets,
and get to know you;
take pictures of your secret places,
your three million hidden faces.
.
i wish you weren’t too hot,
too dangerous,
too dirty.
all good in a man – but not in my city.
.
i want my city to cool me down,
be my hiding place,
be rough but clean shaven;
i’d like to take my city home to meet my mother.
.
colombo, i wish i could walk around you.
i wish you were big enough
for me and my dreaming.
big enough for a secret smile to go unseen.
a guilty laugh to go unheard.
for a whisper meant for no one
to be lost in peace.
.
colombo, i wish i could walk around you instead of hurrying
from one indoors
to another
to another
to another.
i don’t want to know you from my house,
inside my chauffeured car.
nor locked in sanitized office spaces.
.
i wish i could feel the skin of you,
warm roads on cool nights.
i wish i could for hours
sit unburnt by your sun,
undisturbed by your irresponsible sons.
i wish i could watch you in the open.
and i wish i could smell your rain from the outside,
me inside you;
my nose wrinkling free
instead of through a sliver of open window.
.
colombo,
i wish you would clean up for me
but still stay irrepressible.
i love your personality
but i want to blunt your razor edges –
just a little.
.
i want to trip along your tree’d avenues by moonlight.
take me to your favorite places –
you show me yours, and i’ll show you mine.

.

colombo,
i wish you’d let me
walk around you.
i know you’d clean up nice.
(edited by Deshan Tennekoon)

The Proposal

…to my best friend, who told me she would marry me if we were both single at 60.


The Proposal

When we’re 60 and wrinkly and funny and old,
We’ll get married – and how everybody will scold!
We’ll be the scandal of Colombo (or should we move out of town?)
There’ll be finger-pointing in public but we’ll just laugh them down.
Our house will be mad – can you imagine the mess
Of art and trinkets and shoes and dress?
We’ll have some cactus in the garden – there can be no doubt.
Music will play all the time and the neighbours will shout.
Dylan, Dave Matthews, Cocorosie, Pink Floyd
Anyone with bad taste we’ll politely avoid.
There’ll be mirrors all over, each with a different frame,
It’ll be crazy, it’ll be cluttered but it’ll never be lame.
We’ll have a cupboard especially for clothes that are godey
When we’re sad we’ll dress up and laugh our blues away.
There’ll be sunshine and music and laughter and noise
And – if we have a pool – maybe even a porpoise.
The porpoise would dance and play underwater,
We’ll have hundreds of dogs, no need of son and daughter.
You’ll paint, I’ll sing, we’ll cook and clean
But it’ll never be a chore; there’s too much fun in between.
With us a broom will never just be a broom
But an excuse to sing “Big Mistake” while we’re sweeping our room.
Flowers will bloom on all our window sills,
We’ll save up all our money in funny little tills.
We’ll pick some of those flowers and wear them in our hair,
We’ll spend some of that money on scarves to wear.
We’ll have friends around us all the time.
We’ll have spaghetti carbonara and tequila with lime.
At this rate, my darling, I fear I am sold –
I cannot WAIT to be 60 and wrinkly and old.

The_Cypress_Cottage_by_shortcherryberry-2

The Cypress Cottage, by shortcherryberry