This month’s author interview was with the wonderful poet Isabelle Kenyon, and you may remember her mentioning a poetry project. She’s been working with writers from all over the world to put together an anthology of writing to raise money for MIND the mental health charity.
‘Please Hear What I’m Not Saying’ is a poetry anthology, the profits of which will go to UK charity, MIND. The book features writing by 116 poets from around the world and details a whole range of mental health experiences. The expected date of release is Thursday 8 February on Amazon. You can add the book to your ‘want to read’ shelf on Goodreads by clicking here.
Isabelle, the editor of the collection, says: “I have not been afraid to shy away from the ugly or the abstract, but I hope that the end of the book reflects the ‘light at the end of the tunnel’ for mental health.”
Today (20 Jan), poets from the anthology are turning to Twitter to promote the project and reveal some insights into their poems. Updates can be followed via the following hashtags: #MINDPoetryProject and #pleasehearwhatimnotsaying.
About my contribution
Of course, as a writer who deals with anxiety through poetry, I sent off a few poems, and one of them got accepted! MIND is a charity close to my heart, so I am delighted and proud to be a part of it.
My poem is called ‘Blue Square With White ‘F’ in the Middle’ and you may be able to work out what it’s about by the title alone. The poem turns Facebook into an art gallery. The reason this is related to my own mental health is because of my past attitude towards Facebook. I used to avoid it at all costs. Seeing stuff on there that other people were doing and saying gave me the worst anxiety I’d ever felt. I wanted to hide from it.
I’m not saying this was a good thing, it wasn’t. In some ways I was out of the loop, and other times (once my mum joined Facebook) I would get snappy with her when she would show me something from it or tell me about someone. I’d say: I don’t want to know. This can’t have been nice for her either.
It took me years to get over it. At one point I returned, but I never looked at my News Feed. I’d just look at the notifications, and be part of group chats for university purposes. Then I used it for events. Now, I’m back at a point where I’ve made so many new friends in real life, that if I do look at my News Feed, it’s mostly filled with creative people and poetry-related stuff.
My poem guides the reader through an art gallery which involves people from my life. The reader can imagine they are walking through themselves, or alongside me. It tries to re-imagine what Facebook (and social media) is by giving it a new format. The people are pieces of art on display: they’re talking, shouting, revealing themselves to any onlookers.
The idea is that we’ve gone to this gallery to see these people. We look at them and we see whatever they decide to show us. The question is: do we want to see it? Is it really what they want us to see? Are there still things being hidden?
Merging social media with a gallery seems to fit with my idea of what it is. Online, we’re curating a bunch of stuff about ourselves for other people to see. We’ll post the nice, happy pictures where we look awesome or cute, or doing something amazing, but we’re unlikely to snap a selfie of us crying in our bedroom are we?
When we log into Facebook, we’re visiting an exhibition made up of the people we know. We allow ourselves to see it and digest it. We visit this exhibition everyday, whereas in real life, we may only visit a gallery once a month, or once every few months. So why do we choose one, which can be harmful, over one which can be inspiring or fulfilling?
It also brings up the importance of going outside and engaging with real life, with nature and the world we’re in, rather than an online one. I imagined Nottingham Contemporary when writing the poem, which is a free gallery and never fails to inspire me.
It’s not a poem about saying Facebook or social media is bad, it just puts it in a different setting, to explore it in a different way and wonder whether this exhibition is worth visiting as often as we do.
Find out more about the book and writers by visiting the website here.