Writers i admire – 4 – Shane Koyzcan

i realize it’s been a while since i’ve done one of these, so i probably have f’d up the numbers but the idea is to get you reading, watching and listening to poetry/read other writers  so I guess  the numbers are irrelevant.  But here is the next installment

I had only really heard of shane Koyzcan as “that dude who wrote a poem for the vancouver winter olympics”  before, and i’d not seen it or heard it so i didn’t sit up and take much notice. However, whatever notice i’d not taken before was definitely made up for since Shane has visited Australia this past couple of weeks.

This man is breathtaking.  He is at once a mix of humour, politics, sadness and incredible love. Not only are his poems beautifully written they are all delivered with intensity. He captures his audience and holds them in the palm of his hand the moment he takes the stage, blending his life’s narrative in with the poems themselves.   He is a prolific writer, and his latest book “Our Deathbeds will be thirsty” was the only anthology of poetry that compelled me to read it from start to finish in one sitting. Normally I need to read and digest each poem, but Shane’s words were compelling. They beckoned me from my comfort zone and I haven’t been there since. His poem, “The crickets have arthritis”  a tale of making friends with a dying nine year old boy was the only poem i’ve read that has reduced me to tears from its very first word.

 I have had the absolute joy of sharing a stage with this man, and it will be one of the highlights of my career, whatever form it takes from here on in.  He is a beautiful soul,  friendly, warm and an encouragement to all poets who meet him. 

My dear Shane,  your soul is that star in the  sky everyone points  to when they are introducing them to their children.  I hope we meet again soon. 

if you’ve never heard him here is the above mentioned poem, the crickets have arthritis. http://www.facebook.com/l.php?u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.youtube.com%2Fwatch%3Fv%3DAocLscbe6-c%26feature%3Drelated&h=xAQA1pCdbAQAQurK6F_jbXSKu8d9lWvQQNM6EUXM066vS4g

A letter to Alex Perry and the “fashion” industry.

(i have been itching to let this sexist, body fascist jerk have it for years and i finally have the opportunity)

Dear Alex, and those in the “fashion” industry, but mostly alex. 

I read with absolute dismay some of the comments you have made to contestants on Australia’s next top model and whilst i get as a “judge” it’s your “job” I think you’ve taken insulting women who have absolutely nothing wrong with their bodies to a whole new level.  Your primary audience, is young women.  Are you not aware of the fact that young Australian women have some of the highest rates of eating disorders in the western world?   From a very early age, we are not encouraged to love our bodies, in which ever form they take. We are constantly being bombarded with images in the media which depict waif like models most of them who are either drug addicts, alcoholics or borderline anorexics themselves.  Young women do not see realistic depictions of themselves in these images, but they believe that these depictions are what they should aspiring to, and will go to often near fatal lengths to achieve this image.   Did you also not think that your words will have consequences for your primary audience?  these young women who view your “show” will look at the women you are insulting and think..shit… if she’s fat, then what the hell am I.  It often takes only one insult, one word, or set of circumstances to cause major repercussions for a very long time.

But let’s take a step back.   You’re a man. A fashion designer, yes. But you are a man.  For decades, men have been dictating to women how their bodies should be looked at, and how they should look. (the CEOs of most major cosmetic companies are men, most high ranking fashion designers are men, who design clothes for women)  As a man, what fucking right do you have to tell ANYONE, particularly women how they should look.  I mean, for goodness sake, you wear sunglasses, on your head, all the time. (and from a very reliable source who spotted you at melbourne fashion week last year you often wear them on. inside. idiot.)   But that’s beside the point.  It sends the completely wrong message to particularly young women, but women generally. It sends the message that the sole purpose of their bodies is to be approved of by men.  I have heard SO MANY young women say “if I only didn’t have a weird nose (insert young teenage boy’s name here) would like me.  or ” i hate my legs, they are so ugly” sure, you might want to dismiss it as usual teenage self consciousness but there is a distinct diference between that and the rampant body hatred that is increasing amongst our youth.  Messages like yours promote the culture of body hatred, they reduce people to neuroses about something that is perfectly normal, fine, and worth loving the way it is – themselves.   What alarmed me the most was the woman in the line of fire, a healthy, incredibly naturally beautiful young woman, was both hurt at your remarks but also said they were most likely the “reality of the industry”… nuh uh mate, nothing that makes women feel bad about themselves should be the “reality” of any industry.

if you want to dismiss this as lefty feminist ranting,  fine, but visit any eating disorders unit at any hospital and see the repercussions of the strive for “beauty”.  It is simply not worth dying for.  A culture of love, acceptance and peace with ourselves needs to be fostered, and you cannot be allowed to air your views if this culture is to ever be created and the harmful trends reversed.  They might be ok in the design room,  but out in public they are simply hurtful and downright inappropriate.

My body does not conform to any image.  It is healthy, but when measured against conventional standards, it falls well short. it is routinely considered “ugly” and mocked in the street.  I have even had a man tell me that sexual assault would be the only way I get sex, as no one would want to “fuck a fatty”… But you know what, fuck them. and fuck you too.  you have no right to tell me what is and isn’t beautiful.  My body is 100 percent mine. and I absolutely love it, for all it’s “failings”. 

to get some well needed education on the harmful effects of your remarks i strongly advise you to check out  www.thebutterflyfoundation.org.au 

sincerely yours

an annoyed but body loving “fatty”