Poetry Cure: The Size of a Bird by Clementine Morrigan
April 23, 2018
Clementine Morrigan's collection The Size of a Bird (Inanna Publications) explores desire, sexuality, and all of its pleasures and pains under rape culture. They talk with us about trauma magic, queer writing groups, and letting the writing come first (and editing come second), as well as sharing the poem "First Dates" from her collection.
Clementine Morrigan: The Size of a Bird is a book about desire and trauma. It's a book about the art of cultivating desire from a space of femininity and insisting on its importance, despite the reality of misogyny and a culture of sexual violence. It's a book about bike rides and summertime and fucking, skateboarding, break ups, and rape. These poems works to hold the complexity of navigating sexuality under rape culture, the pleasures and joys, as well as the terrors and pains. Ultimately, The Size of a Bird is a love letter to the practice of staying alive and stretching ourselves toward the lives we desire, and deserve.
ALU: Do you have any steadfast writing rituals?
CM: Work dates with other queers are indispensable, just like quietly keeping each other company while we each do our own work. I also have a practice with a friend of mine where we try to send each other a poem every day. Anything that keeps me writing and showing up to my work in a consistent way is important.
ALU: What’s the best piece of advice anyone has given you about writing, or life?
CM: I don't remember where I heard this. It was a long time ago, but it stayed with me. Basically, the idea is that filmmakers let the film roll. They don't stop filming to edit. They film now, edit later. With writing we can let our editor brains get in the way of writing. This can freeze us up. But writing and editing are two different processes. Your editor brain is important and will come in handy when the time is right. But when you are writing, don't try to edit. Let the words flow.
ALU: What, outside of other books/writers, inspires your writing?
CM: I consider my writing to be a practice of trauma magic. My writing comes out of a lineage of zinesters and poets who use writing to grapple with the intensity of pain and find paths toward healing. My writing is deeply invested in creating worlds without sexual violence. I am inspired by resilience and the will to live, by incredible acts of resistance to violence. I am inspired by octopuses who will cross land for freedom and all of us who are trying to create a different world.
Riding my bicycle next to him, I remain torn between worlds.
Neither here exactly nor there. I wonder whose fault it is and I think
it must be my own. I’m questioning everything. He asks me what I
mean when I say all my friends are queer and I give him some
answer like, “We are politicized. We reject heteronormativity and we
interrogate it for its roles in oppressive systems like colonialism,
capitalism and white supremacy.” He says his friends are queer but
not like that and I ask him what he means. He says they are less aggressive about it.
I wonder how I have been aggressive but I take his word for it that
I have. I want him to invite me over to his place. I want to see what
the insides look like. I want to sit on his couch and sleep in his bed
and seep my presence into the sheets. He tells me a story about
another first date and how he invited the girl over and she started
doing coke in his living room. It made him uncomfortable. I want
him to invite me over so that on his next date with the next girl he can tell her about me.
He can tell her he went on this date with this aggressive feminist who
really had no sense of humour. I have no reason to believe he would say these things.
He asks me if I think the differences between the sexes are biological.
I find the question boring and irrelevant and I want to talk about
other things. I opened the door by saying I’m a feminist so now we
have to discuss this. He talks to me about cave men and testosterone
and male aggression. He is wedded to these things. I don’t care about
them. I want to talk about construction and community, critical
analysis, possibility. Or maybe I just want to talk about the sky
changing shades above us, deepening its blues. Maybe I just want to lay my head on his shoulder and breathe out a long sigh.
Clementine Morrigan is a writer, artist, educator, and working witch. Their first book, Rupture, was published in 2012. Her second collection of poetry, The Size of a Bird, was released from Inanna Publications in 2017. Their creative writing has appeared in the literary journals Prose & Lore and Soliloquies, and her scholarly writing has appeared in the academic journals Somatechnics, The Canadian Journal of Disability Studies, and Knots. They have also written for Guts Magazine. She is the creator of two short films, Resurrection (2013) and City Witch (2016) as well as being a prolific zinester with a current project titled Fucking Magic. Their creative, artistic, and scholarly works consider trauma, madness, addiction, sobriety, gender, sexuality, desire, magic, re-enchantment, environment, and more-than-human worlds. Additionally, she facilitates workshops and guest lectures on a number of topics, as well as providing professional tarot reading services for individuals and events. They are a white settler of Irish, Scottish, and English ancestry living on Anishinabek, Haudenosaunee, and Wendat land. She is a practitioner of trauma magic.
All Lit Up is produced by the Literary Press Group and LitDistCo. LPG and LitDistCo acknowledge the financial support of the Department of Canadian Heritage, the Canada Council for the Arts, and the Ontario Arts Council.