A Dedication to Emilie Autumn’s ‘The Asylum for Wayward Victorian Girls’

After reading Emilie Autumn’s semi-autobiography The Asylum for Wayward Victorian Girls which by the way I highly recommend although it is not easy to get hold of a copy. I thought I would post this poem which I wrote back in 2009 because it strongly relates to a poignant point Emilie makes. For those of you who have a copy of the book then the page that I am particularly referring to is 220. I hope you enjoy the poem.
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Psychology: If it’s so popular they why the stigma?
Mental Illness affects one in four people: Fact
.
You demonised me into being victim
Like I chose that- are you sick?
Just because the fromage I wouldn’t lick
And wanted to resemble a stick

Or to be violently sick
Left alone to be depressed
Though I had nothing to confess
Suicidal thoughts I caressed

All these years attempting to express how I feel
Shut down and shut up every time, by you
I would have told you till I was blue
In face if I thought you’d have listened

People, unlike you did listen
And act, support, didn’t “shut up”
I talked freely, drinking coffee,
With bars, on the window
I owe them my life.
The ability to laugh and not care
What anyone else may think
To be drunk and to be aware,
Emotion doesn’t mean, you need to see a shrink
It means you are alive, and living,
Interacting with everything around you

A slave, subjected to emotion
A victim of expression
Terrified of my reflection
Surrounded by oppression

I was sick.

All negative blood tests
That is always best.

Can’t see anything wrong
Just “come back if symptoms persist”.
Was ten years too long?
Were you waiting for rig-amortise?

In body, physically a child
In mind, psychologically a child
Listen to Blake as he whispers, Innocence
Epitomising youth in his assonance

Dry cries for help
Invaded 1999 to 2009
All without tears
Just pure anger and fears

I owe you my existence
My life belongs to me
Sick of submission
And a victim of emotion

Jenna Grabey © 2009

The image above is taken from the book. I do not own any rights over it only what is written above.

…Some species of orange sheep

 

 

People are strange
People are weird
People should not be orange
Orange and strange seem to rhyme
Yet I thought orange had no rhyme
It’s not supposed to have a rhyme

If a person is not strange
And if they are not weird
And worse still if they are orange
Then they are an orange canvas
Or some species of orange sheep
Neither can leap or have any possession to keep

People are strange
People are weird
You are seared
By an estranged beard*
But I am normal
Because I am abnormal and paranormal

Jenna Grabey 2012

*A person who diverts suspicion from someone

The Tale of Constance ~ A Broken Ballard

 

In the depths of the misty moor
Stands a castle from ancient lore
Shrouded by the tangible night
Stars hang emitting crystal light

Barn owls chase shrews and mice to kill
Across the rolling Exmoor hills
The castle built from local stone
Is enchanted with the winds’ moan

This castle has no space for time
It’s the elements greatest crime
Centuries pass all unknown
Yet see how the ivy has grown

Laying on the dungeons cold floor
A girl holds no key for the door
Thrown in there by her misery
Now she’ll cry till she finds the key

History of blood and bandages
Haunt her dreams at the fringes
In the tower a prince is found
Loneliness is what keeps him bound

To the castle, to the tower
Every single hour, tastes sour
His past wisps like the dusty wind
What he did – could it be a sin?

Constance knows the prince will save her
From the fearsome dragon, he’ll lure
The beast away, break the bars
And take her to see the stars

As hills become veiled in darkness,
Alluring music is played
On a grand piano by the prince,
This keeps the princess hoping

Every note played silences the pain from the chains
Which bind her wrists and fists
They are manacles for imprisonment,
The lock, a gaping hole, there lies

A fire, restricted, silenced
Chains of spears burn through her thoughts
Dissolution runs through her veins
Her logic has crumbled and cracked 

With the rising of many suns
She hears him on the cobbled steps
She weeps, must have slain the dragon.
Infatuation at first sight

Their bourbon eyes interlock
Transfixed.
Forgetting time, in time
Biting her lip she smiles

He breaks the bars, but he does not
Take her to see the stars
She sees the verity before her
A chilling beautiful monster

No eyes does his face hold
Or anything she ever knew
Just a frozen heart with ivory fangs
And a lurid face torn apart

She sees the awful reality
And hears the testing truth
Never again will she be chained
And never again she be pained

Her silk screams are in unison
Echoing from the high tower
The monster crying in the night
Finishes her off in a fright

Beating her to her bones
Till she falls with a thud
He wants to shred her more
But only to see more blood

Her skeleton, abandoned
On the floor that now wears her flesh
And death she now wears
As if in blessed matrimony

Constance died of a broken heart
Her melancholia is always
In the castle, every hour.
While that miscreant of Mother Nature

Winds along the dusty tunnel,
His thoughts flicker back to Constance
And his eyes turn misty in a howl,
For she is now an angels’ hymn

 

Jenna Grabey © 2011. All Rights Reserved.

 

the_tower_by_feral_dragon_art-d56xz0v

Mistletoe

Ice and snow cover the Earth,
Nature says, ‘stay at home
By the fire of the hearth
Now is not the time to roam.’

So on this frosty Yuletide eve,
We burn the Cailleach Nollaig*
And song and laughter we weave
In the light of the Christmas Hag.

We feast and drink sweet mead,
As we relish on the sacrificed Earth
Whose now in death but we know will seed
Once awakened into rebirth.

Under Druid blessed mistletoe
We kiss as the Sun begins to grow,
Because on the deepest, darkest night
We celebrate the rebirth of light!

*The burning of the Cailleach was the ceremonial burning of the Winter Solstice. A piece of wood was carved roughly into the shape of an Old Crone to represent the Spirit of Winter. This was then placed into a fire to burn. As people gathered to watch they would be mindful of the symbolism, that was the ending of all the bad things that had happened the previous year and a fresh start for the next one. “Nollaig” in Scottish is used to refer to Christmas. In Irish it means “December”. “Cailleach” refers to the prototypical Crone figure and thus the old wise woman in Gaelic.

THE DRESDEN DOLLS

 

Amanda Palmer
Singer, writer and pianist, enjoys meditation, and was born in 1976.

Brian Viglione
Drummer, active supporter of the LGBT community and was born in 1979.

 

The Dresden Dolls cannot be categorised musically, yet terms such as “theatrical rock”, “punk cabaret” and “manic-musical” have been used, this unique band formed in 2001 in Boston. The duo Amanda and Brian first met on Halloween 2000, and this is when they became the Dresden Dolls.

Two years after forming they created their debut in September 2003 by 8ft records, the bands personal label, then the same album was chosen by Roadrunner records the following year, to be released in the U.S and Japan.

Once signed with Roadrunner records the band had sold-out concerts in four continents! Where they performed at the worlds’ biggest festivals such as Glastonbury, Coachella and Rockide. Then released their second album “Yes, Virginia” in the spring of 2006.

There was more excitement to come as they were awaiting their premiere in 2007, for the original musical they wrote at the prestigious American Repertory Theatre. A live performance of the musical was released onto DVD in the summer of 2007.

Dresden dolls got their band name from the Eastern town of Germany: Dresden, which is renowned for its china, porcelain and the dolls they make from these. Dresden is also associated with firebombing that took place there near the end of WWII which levelled the whole city and destroyed its architectural beauty.

The Dresden Dolls recapitulated for you, it is time to move forward. While sounding similar to Revue Noir in their music. The lyrics unique, original as you can imagine, or not imagine. Brian plays his drums relentlessly with Amanda on keyboard using every ounce of her soul, and together they create a psychotic collage of music, if you never listen to them you will never see these colours.

Amanda from the Dresden Dolls was in the newspaper- The Guardian, of the UK this February 2009, after the Roadrunner records told her, her video for the song “Leeds United” needed to be edited. Too explicit you may think? Making light of taboo topics? No, well not this time! Apparently her stomach “didn’t look quite flat enough”. Amanda did not take offence, because at the end of the day the record was receiving publicity, and she knew she looked hot!

Amanda and Brain are currently working on their own projects, Amanda on her solo career as a singer, writer and pianist, and Brain in his new band as a drummer, guitarist and singer. Amanda’s most recent project is taking place in Lexington High school where she is working with 20 students to create and perform the play “with a needle that sings in her heart”, a performance about Anne Frank.

This is not the end of the Dresden Dolls as for now they are just “expanding their empire”.
http://www.dresdendolls.com/ 

The Dresden Dolls

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Why is it that at the start of, and when I say start I am referring to within the first 2 months of beginning an educational course, that students need to start planning what they are going to do come the end of it?

Firstly, what ever happened to enjoying the learning process? How can students be expected to focus on their current studies if already they are being forced to thinking about what they’re going to do afterwards? Planning and applying for suture jobs/courses takes time, attention and energy away from current studies; including exams! Surely, the present should be the focus for students if they are to succeed in their chosen course.

This is not necessarily the fault of the educational institutions, however if the deadlines for applications were not so early this would make life easier. For instance, in 2011 I graduated with a BA (Hons) in English Language and Linguistics, in October 2012 I begin a MSc in the Neuroscience of Language, however if I wish to do a PhD at the same University I have to have a research  proposal along with many other sheets of paper by the second week of December! And yes that is December 2012. For one, I’ve just started this course, give me a chance to get my teeth stuck into it first, and two, said proposal would be due in exactly 10 weeks since commencing the course, in this time there are multiple exams and assignments to be completed in what time between going to lectures, brushing my teeth, writing, revising and possibly finding some food would the proverbial “they” like me to think, write and edit a research proposal?

Wordfest Revealed!

Introduction
I wrote this back in 2010 to publicise and inform readers of what exactly the event Wordfest was and still is. For the record, it does not parallel a gaming convention whereby the gamers are wannabe Countdown contestants playing Fridge Poetry.

Wordfest Revealed: An Interview with Helen Taylor

Wordfest has now reached its 7th year. I went to find out exactly what Wordfest is all about and why you should attend. Helen Taylor is Cambridgeshire County Council’s Literature Development Officer and is also part of the Advisory Group for Wordfest which includes programming, funding and planning which writers to bring together for the festival. Sitting in a canteen at Shire Hall I get the chance to talk with Helen Taylor.

What exactly is Wordfest?

It is a new breed of festival. Bringing together different types of people and writers in a variety of venues: The Fitzwilliam museum, ADC Theatre and local libraries get involved in this celebration of literature. It’s a festival of ideas and inspiration.

What have you enjoyed most about Wordfest?

The amazing things I have learnt. For instance, the illustrator Andy English, gained inspiration from the armoury room at the Fitzwilliam, specifically from the knight situated on a horse. You can see here [she points to page 34 of the programme- oh yes I can definitely see the resemblance] and it’s knowing things like this that you can’t get elsewhere which make it such an interesting festival. (English is appearing at this year’s Wordfest with Phillip Pullman, author of Northern Lights.)

What have you learned from your involvement?

People like the ownership of Wordfest. Many who have attended immediately want to know when the next one is, it seems to become an important part of their calendar. Also, the concept of subterranean book: the sell out of Chinese writer Xinran’s event revealed an underground movement of books, which must have been spread by word of mouth. One of the hardest things is writers cancelling at the last moment. Rageh Omaar, BBC foreign correspondent, cancelled the day before his planned event. So giving apologies to large groups of people and finding replacement writers at short notice was a major learning curve.

Who usually attends Wordfest?

With our diverse programme we are trying to attract a wide audience. I think that often people are under the impression that festival audiences are full of clever people, they are mistaken. Wordfest is a celebration of literature and so is for everyone.

How do you find people to fill up the programme?

We have programming meetings with the steering group, advisory group and discuss the balance of the programme: genre, different groups to represent, unusual combinations of writers, response to requests for writers. We emphasise to publishers, agents and writers that Wordfest is in a beautiful location with appreciative audiences and opportunities to meet other writers and be well looked after.

So, are the contributors usually well known or is Wordfest more of an opportunity for people with debut works?

Both! We have local, debut and popular authors, and even comedians. For instance we had Lord Giddens speaking about climate change from his book The Politics of Climate Change. And this year we have Hilary Mantel, which sold out within the first day, with her prize winning Wolf Hall and the comedian Jeremy Hardy.

Who is the most famous speaker you have had at Wordfest?

It’s hard to say who’s famous and who isn’t. It depends on what area of literature you’re looking at, as different readers are familiar with different writers. Philippa Pearce, Michael Morpurgo, PD James, Jacqueline Wilson and Carol Ann Duffy would all be contenders for this.

Is there any chance of signings?

Yes, after every event. This has proven to be one of the main pulls to the festival. Jacqueline Wilson, for instance, usually takes about 4 hours to do her signings! She talks to everyone who approaches her and she is a very warm-hearted woman.

I hear Wordfest is looking for volunteers, what are the benefits from being a volunteer?

Oh, loads! You get to see everyone and all for free! It involves attending lots of events and undertaking a variety of tasks: from greeting people and taking tickets to running around the corner to buy biscuits for the green room. It is an exciting and exhilarating experience and a good taste of what it takes to run a festival.

What do you think of the Oxford Literary Festival?

It’s a fantastic event and huge. I can’t say anything against the festival, my sister is friends with one of the organisers. Although, Oxford have a safety net for their funding, The Sunday Times sponsorship, something we do not have, however I feel this can make such a festival lose its personal touch.

Would you say it is suitable for students?

Yes. Wordfest is a manageable event because it all happens over a single weekend. Also it gives a definite taste of what’s going on in the world of literature and politics. There’s a panel of party leaders from Cambridge, everyone is welcome to come and ask questions, this year the focus is specifically on carbon emissions.

Are there any anecdotes you can tell us about previous Wordfests?

Oh let me think. When Michael Moore and Philippa Pearce spoke at Wordfest it was fantastic to see every nook and cranny filled. Also, Richard E. Grants’ performance was the funniest event I have seen at Wordfest, which I was surprised at, because on television he seems really serious but in person he was completely different. This taught me that seeing writers in person gives you a wonderful insight to their character and thoughts.

To view the programme, sign up for volunteering or just find out more visit the website

Back to University! This time to study the Neuroscience of Language.

The title says it all really, therefore I will not be posting much on here for the time being. Although, I do have some little gems coming up soon, I am just waiting for the right time of year: In other words the posts will be more relevant.

See you soon in the cyber-world 🙂

For now I will leave you with this: Something which I am sure to be expecting within the coming months!

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Grimoires: A History of Magic Books by Owen Davies (Book Review)

Grimoires: A History of Magic Books by Owen Davies

This highly detailed exploration of the history of grimoires leaves no stone left unturned as far as Egyptian, Christian, Jewish and Wiccan magic is concerned. As the title states this book only covers grimoires, so if you think you’re going to find the genesis of divinatory systems, such as tarot cards, you’re mistaken. Davies is predominantly concerned with ancient grimoires, for instance The Key of Solomon and the books of Moses, and how these continue to influence magical practices and written grimoires throughout the ages; leading up to the ubiquitous Book of Shadows.

The introduction is light in tone and explains how books can be magic without containing magic. This quickly changes as we enter the first chapter ‘Ancient and Medieval Grimoires’ which is dry but does bring up some interesting points, for example in Roman antiquity high-class prostitutes were literate and so could have written love magic and binding spells which would be highly useful for them. The second chapter describes how the printing industry, reformation and witch trials affected magical grimoires. Davies continues with the discussion of political socio-historical events such as the Enlightenment and significant people such as Delaurence, and then applies these to magical grimoires.

Davies sets out to and delivers a historical account of grimoires. Taking an objective view and explaining social context before delving into the grimoire, he provides his own criticism to the subject and draws upon many resources. However at times Davies is rather journalistic in his delivery as small parts read like a newspaper. Furthermore, some of the context he provides seems irrelevant for exploring grimoires.

Gay Marriage: A Fight Over Language and Religion

The internet is increasing with pages, campaigns and groups being made to support of the legalisation of gay marriage. This is to replace Civil Partnership which allows homosexual couples to have their relationship legally recognised, thanks to the Civil Partnership Act 2004. However the term “Civil Partnership” has developed an inferior status in comparison with the heterosexual “Civil Marriage”, but, for those who are not religious, Civil Partnership is synonymous with Gay Marriage. I will explain.

The majority of the differences between Civil Partnership and Civil Marriage actually allow the former additional choice in how the wedding is conducted, while “Marriage” is more constricted by institutional laws. For instance, the registration certificate does not need to be signed at the wedding and verbal exchange is not essential. This means a Civil Partnership wedding can be held in private and conducted in a manner that allows the couple to use originality and creativity which otherwise would not be possible.

The issue is religion. Civil Partnerships are prohibited to contain religious references; this includes readings, music and the premise in which it takes place. The Civil Partnership Act 2004 states “no religious service is to be used while the civil partnership registrar is officiating at the signing of a civil partnership document.” Consequently, Civil Partnerships are not recognised by the Church of England at this present time. This goes to show that even now, in a world dominated by science and technology the Church still has more power over society. Although rather than viewing this as a constriction to our freedom and rights, this can be seen as being free from the institution of the Church; so once again, the Civil Partnership wedding becomes less institutionalised and more personal. If one wishes to mention divinity in their wedding, it can be done with the mind, the heart and in prayer before and after the wedding. This shows real dedication and spirituality.

In spite of this current state of affairs “Partnership” when used in “Civil Partnership” is actually a religious term. This dates from Old English.

‘Partnership’ = ‘partner’ + ‘ship’

Since Old English ‘ship’ at the end of a word (suffix) means to ‘create’ or ‘ordain’ (‘ordain’ – to invest with holy meaning). In the context of a wedding the meaning is obviously ‘ordain’ as this is what the Civil Partnership registrar does. Therefore religious connotations are inherent in the meaning! So not only is it discrimination that gay couples cannot have an openly religious wedding ceremony, it is also a total contradiction.

However, come the end of the wedding the couple are not pronounced ‘husband and husband’ or ‘wife and wife’; instead the couple are pronounced ‘Civil Partners’. This assumes the terms ‘husband’ and ‘wife’ belong solely to the concept of heterosexual marriage, but where is the evidence for this? Also Language continuously changes: Dictionaries do not dictate the language we use, it is the language that we use which is recorded in dictionaries. For instance look at how the meaning of ‘gay’ has changed over the years! Therefore there is no reason why the terms husband and wife should not be officially used by homosexual couples. Furthermore there is nothing to stop “Civil Partners” referring to their spouse as husband/wife. Nevertheless there is an exchange of names, and change of title for lesbian couples.

What it boils down to is allowing homosexual couples to have overtly religious ceremonies and to officially use the terms ‘husband’ and ‘wife’. So, it may help if we are specific in our demands when campaigning to the authorities to recognise LGB rights. Until the government make those bureaucratic adjustments, in reality non-religious homosexual couples do indeed marry, it just comes under a different name. For religious couples we can make it religious ourselves and use the title of our choice.

I would love to hear readers views on this.