Bookish crush : Yrsa Daley Ward

The greatest contradiction of our over-sharing society is that it elevates our mundane moments and flattens our most life-changing moments into one disappointing dimension. I am often happier with my image of a flat white, than when I try to capture my own emotions. As Jennifer Egan says, "There are so many ways to go wrong. All we've got are metaphors, and they're never exactly right. You can never just Say. The. Thing." 

I think it's also go to do with pressure. Every time you reveal an emotion, it opens a window to a vulnerability. This needs filtering of its own. Is this vulnerability acceptable for Instagram? Will people not judge or isolate you? And if you choose to be raw, it needs to be framed as something so over-the-top vulnerable and moralistic that you'll get enough likes and shares to cancel out the vulnerability hangover. 

This is why I'm crushing on Yrsa Daley-Ward. Her poetry uses simple, blunt phrases to convey complex emotions. It is uncomfortable, but often hopeful. She says The Thing in many different ways and voices, capturing the fluidity of what it means to be human. I love that her writing is so accessible, meaning that anyone can pick up a poem or a quote from her poem and find some resonance in it. That's what we are searching for in the digital muck after all - a precious gem of authenticity. 

Oh! And as you will hear in this wonderful TEDx talk, she wrote a great deal of her poetry while living in Cape Town. How great is that! 

Here is one of her poems from her new book Bone, which you can buy on Amazon. 


If you are walking down a aisle with a dim florescent hue
by the tinned fish and canned beans
strip lighting above, cracked tiles beneath
with the realisation that most things are futile
and get the sudden urge to end it all

Don’t stop. Call a friend.
Call your mother if you have one
and if you can stand her
listen to her talk about the price of canned fish and tinned beans
Call the speaking clock. Know that whatever time it says is the time that everything has to change.

Leave the damn aisle. Don’t go anyway where they sell sweets, chips, booze, fast love or lottery tickets
See that just outside there are people lined streets that are emptier than your insides, skies darker than your own
Look for yourself, because it never helps to hear from anyone else.

If you are one of those, running around town like mad people
People who jump from tall buildings
Buildings with glass fronts and not enough air
If you are failing to fix a broken story
If you have been cooped up for far too long in a very high tower in a dangerously low state
plenty of TV channels and TV dinners. Plenty of biscuits, chocolate desserts, cake and
plenty of wine but no love for miles and miles

If you did not get up for work today
If it has been afternoon for hours
And the silence is keeping you awake.
If you only remember how to draw your breath
in and out like waves of thick tar cooling
If you are wishing it later,
pulling the sun down with your prayers, leave the damn bed.
Wash the damn walls. Crack open a window even in the rain, even in the snow.
Listen to the church bells outside.
Know that however many times they chime is half the number of changes you have to make.
Stop trying to die. Serve your time here, do your time.
Clean out the fridge.
Throw away the soya milk. Soya milk is made from children’s tears. Put flowers on the table. Stand them in a measuring jug. Chop raw vegetables if you have them.
Know that if you are hungry for something but you cant think what then you are more often than not only love thirsty, only bored.
When the blood in your body is weary to flow. When your bones are heavy and hollow
if you have made it past thirty celebrate, and if you haven’t yet, rejoice. Know that there is a time on its way when the dirt settles and the patterns form a picture.

If you dream of the city but you live in the country, Milk the damn cows. Sell the damn sheep.
Know that they will wishing you well, posing for pictures on milk cartons or running over lush hills to be counted at the beginning of someone’s else’s dream
See, they never held you back
It was you, only you.