Wordview 2020: Confidences

When I was eleven my mother bought me a set of worry dolls;
six little listeners rendered in pink and green thread
from a market stall in town.

I told them about the names I was being called at school
and about my irrational fear of the dark
and about why I wasn’t actually so sure it was irrational
and about dying – yes, even then it was a concern

and later on I told them about my nose
being so embarrassingly the wrong shape
and about how I was going to Hell
but before then I’d have to sit through Purgatory

and the five of them just took it in – perhaps there were only ever five –
and they didn’t pass judgement so I told them some more things

like about the Yangtze River dolphin
and the man on our street who shouted fucking Thatcher
into the wheelie bins and wore Tesco carrier bags on his feet

and axe-murderers and rare tropical diseases
and how people didn’t like me because they didn’t take the time
to get to know me properly

and the four of them nodded their little cotton heads sympathetically.

I told them about the Global Climate Emergency and they didn’t even seem surprised
and when a politician who campaigned for peace was shot dead in her home town
they said we know, we know, we know and they gazed up at me
like the three magi in a knitted nativity gazing up at the sky.

We shared a bottle of Jim Beam and I began to talk
about losing bits of myself; sending vital parts off in packets
addressed to publishing houses and forgetting to include an S.A.E.

and about waking in the night to check if I could still use a pen
in case I found I’d been extinguished, like a firefly softly stifled
beneath the surface of a lake

and about advertisements for makeup and breakfast cereal
that are meant to make you worry about the lines in your face
and the overspill of your gut when really you should be worrying
about something useful like the housing crisis

but you are worrying about the lines in your face
and that means you’re going to Hell

and they both looked tired

and one said listen, I can’t take this anymore
and shuffled off right out the living room door

and the other one just stared at me and shrugged.

Recording provided as part of Poetry Archive Now: Wordview 2020. Used by permission of the author.

Wordview 2020 Winners

Welcome to the Poetry Archive Now! WordView 2020 Collection. For the first time the Archive opened its doors wide to poets from around ...

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Genevieve Carver

Genevieve Carver is a writer and performer based in Sheffield. Her poetry has been published in journals including Iota, Envoi, Mslexia and The North. Her first collection ‘A Beautiful Way to be Crazy’, was published by Verve Poetry Press in 2020. Her latest live show of the same name combines spoken-word with music from gig theatre ensemble Genevieve Carver & The Unsung, and explores female experiences in the music industry.

A special thank you to everyone who entered this competition

Chair of the Judging Panel, Imtiaz Dharker, says: “The hundreds of entries we received blew in to the Archive like a breath of pure, unpolluted air from all over the world, revealing something of the time we are living in, some telling it straight, some slant. It was exciting to check in to the Poetry Archive’s Youtube channel every morning and come upon one unexpected voice after another."

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