Well. My Winterson memoir has arrived and I have devoured chapter one. I do not know whether this is a blessing or a curse. I’m tempted to write the whole thing out but will have to make do with a few quotations.
“Part fact part fiction is what life is. And it is always a cover story. I wrote my way out”
“I loved God of course, in the early days, and God loved me. That was something. And I loved animals and nature. And poetry. People were the problem. How do you love another person? How do you trust another person to love you? I had no idea. I thought that love was loss. Why is the measure of love loss?”
[Apparently that last bit is the opening line of her novel Written on the Body which I bloody well have to go and buy and read now]
“Truth for anyone is a very complex thing. For a writer, what you leave out says as much as those things you include”
“When we tell a story we exercise control, but in such a way as to leave a gap, an opening. It is a version, but never the final one. And perhaps we hope that the silences will be heard by someone else, and the story can continue, can be retold. When we write we offer the silence as much as the story. Words are the part of silence that can be spoken”
Wow. I love it because of the way that what she describes resonates with me to the core. I also feel a little deflated as it seems my blog is effectively redundant. The book has been written already, and with a good deal more eloquence than I can muster. I am even tempted to do a bit of imaginary finger jabbing and trace the symmetries (such as they are) between her chapter and some of my poverty stricken posts.
I recently read another discussion that was looking for a definition of poetry. There isn’t one. It quoted a few attempts like Wordsworth’s “The best words in the best order” but the one that hit home hardest was that poetry is “What is lost in translation”. As much about what isn’t there as what is. It isn’t a useful definition, as setting out to write the unwritten is a tricky proposition at best, but the sublime often has no use per se. For me what good poetry does is resonate. With as little explanation as you can get away with.
I already know this book is going to floor me before I have even read it all. Jeanette did not belong. And she will, I am sure, mercilessly plumb that depth, as well as scale the heights of her redemption.
“I understood, in a very dimly lit way, that I would need to find the place where my own life could be reconciled with itself. And I knew that had something to do with love”
Spirals. Truth. Reconciliation.