My own dalliance in poetry has helped form the direction of my practice for SciArt. Initially I chose the idea of journaling my experience of being diagnosed with type 1 Diabetes, and my experience on a subsequent drug trial and illustrating this. I have found ‘journaling’ to be an unhelpful expression – especially as I don’t have a typical daily diary (Although I do record my blood levels, and carb to insulin ratios regularly throughout the day (fig 1)- which has a visual potential, but apart from references in images I haven't yet been able to develop further).
Moreover, 'journal' suggests a more structured consideration of the situation – one that doesn’t correspond with the way in which I feel it impacts on me. For while a key aspect of diabetes is the need to manage your life, the sense of a calm, and rational approach associated with the word “manage” is not how the experience feels.
My solution has been to consider the journal in the form of the ‘free-verse’ of ‘beat poetry’. Whilst a definite form or structure to the work of the ‘beat poets’ is difficult to lay down, there are certain features that enable expression of ideas: the format is jazz inspired – looking for hooks and links, but being free-form, and encouraging improvisation; a syncopation of the rhythm – encouraged by line breaks; and a ‘playfulness’ with the form and spelling of words and use of rhyme. For me the syncopation of the form reflects the tension between the scientific rigor of ‘managing’ diabetes and the emotional exhaustion and frustration of the condition (there have been links made between diabetes and mental health issues Beyond Type 1, https://beyondtype1.org/lifestyles/mental-health/, 11:25, 30/1/17).
As covered in my last blog, the process of writing poetry has been developed by a process of drawing as interpretation – mind-mapping thoughts, and drawing responses in an overlapping process that both reveals images to inspire poetry, and in turn those poems produce images to develop. This dialectic of poetry and art works around my understanding of my diabetes both through lived experience, but also through my research into both the disease in general, but also immunology in more depth. In my last blog the poem "Life as a Test Tube" I focused in on the experience in relation to the process and the science of Type 1 Diabetes, whilst developing the images, and contemplating this blog I started to piece together snap-shots, building as sense of the narrative thrust, still using the free-verse/beat form/aesthetic, but adding as sense of dramatic rhetoric (and the title is very much working...):
I start with a
So I drink - craving
and pee (and itch).
Thunder over the mountains,
quick sketches – snapshot
and I snap,
[GP] – poke, prick, piss, weigh
diastolic over systolic equals A&E.
Taken, shaken, spun and wrung
numbers float to the top.
Does this mean? Does this mean? Not sure…
more blood, laying on my back – a sprawling cephalopod
reaching across limbs and heart
waxing legs and chest…
A swirling of thoughts, flying debris of knowledge spinning from nowhere
Come back when? Then?
A breath – back in the room…
‘s okay – ‘cos now I know,
now I know
and knowledge is… is… nice?
Blood – again
type 1/type 2/type 2/type1… type 1
(Manage – a word that has inside
a way of life to
and thrive, but
for me holds nothing but the thought,
that this philosophy is
anathema to me –
strategies with blue-sky thinking,
as though all inspiration can
be quantified – and imagination denied.),
manage it –
needles, strips, lancets, testing kit, basel, bolus, glargine, insulin, ketoid, ketosis (ketoacidosis) hyperglycaemic,
manage it –
diet, carbs not sugar – unless too low, insulin adjustment, split doses,
good carbs, low carbs, no carbs
and don’t forget to divide by…
and everyone is different…
“Carbs and Cals”(without the cals) – book and app;
reading labels in the supermarket – phone checking,
low, lower, lowest –
conjugating taste into numbers – experience to data.
Rebellion – I will eat!
Challenge accepted – spices, herbs, pulses –
weighing, weighing – times, then divide
(One pot – one equation)
walking, thinking, testing.
Pin prick, finger prick – you’re a….
check - test, record,
write it down,
sort – think it through, work
it out – hypothesise,
apply – inject – suck it up,
make a note,
save for later,
look back on,
see how trends develop
trial and error
error and trial.
Find a routine, find a rhythm,
find a way to fit it in.