I had intended to write a short piece about how stand-up comedy and poetry writing intersect based on a show I went to recently, but that’s not happening this time. I’ll probably still write that piece eventually because the idea seems good – stand-up and poetry writing are similar in enough ways that comparing them would be interesting – but it will take a bit more time to crystallize the thesis given that I have not gone to many stand-up gigs and I also forgot to record the conversation I had with a comic friend of mine after the show, which would have helped. So it’ll have to wait until I go to a few more shows. Sorry
I suppose this piece is about writer’s block, in a way. For nearly four years I wrote almost nothing, and didn’t publish at all. I eventually cobbled enough together to release a chapbook entitled As Well that I did not realize at the time was about why I had not written during those years: I was either drunk or hungover every single day. I once did the math and figure that I filtered about thirty or forty thousand dollars through my liver, as I spent money on not much else and had minimal expenses at the time. I’ve never been precisely sure how that period started or how it ended; the specifics have faded away. What I remember most about that time was the sheer monotony of it: I’d wake up with a headache every morning and lie still until my stomach was settled enough or until I vomited, force some breakfast down my throat, go to work at the call centre, be angry for eight hours, and then go to the bar. I did this just about every day. Surprisingly I had friends, and they were part of what kept me functioning and moving through it. The other part, the thing I tried daily to drown under all those litres, were the words that would appear: first lines of things I would never write, phrases I should have scribbled but wouldn’t, endings to things I hadn’t bothered to start. The guilt of not writing eventually persuaded me to start again.
I’m not sure exactly why I’m thinking about this today. Maybe because this has been another year where I have written little and am trying to take stock of the reasons. Maybe because another year has ended, and some clichés are true: it’s a time to look back and see where we’ve come from and what we’ve been through. Or maybe because it has been a terrible year for a lot of us, and for the city in general. Many of us are unsure how we will make it to the next paycheque, if not the next day. Many of us lost people, one way or the other. I’m not sure anything I can say will help, to be honest. I only know that I have to say it.
This is the start of another new year and perhaps I should have something uplifting to say. I’ve never exactly been a writer of uplifting poetry.
I will, however, leave you with something from As Well that – despite how awful the moments of its creation were – is somehow hopeful:
to have the words and
not, and have nothing
(or a drink)
And then try again.
I’ll try again.