Perhaps one of the hardest fallouts from the ongoing Covid pandemic has been how it has separated friends and families. But whatever the circumstances, the sense of isolation we all sometimes feel can be one of the most painful emotions to experience. Poetry, however, can provide solace and insight to help us cope with such challenges, writes bestselling feminist poet Arch Hades.
By Arch Hades
Let’s Talk About Poetry
“Artists and philosophers not only show us what we have felt, they present our experiences more poignantly and intelligently than we have been able; they give shape to aspects of our lives that we recognise as our own yet could never have understood so clearly on our own.” writes British philosopher Alain de Botton. It is for this reason, I suspect, we are most drawn to art and philosophy, and why it is so precious to us. Poetry—good poetry—with meaning and aesthetics in language, can explain our condition to us, and so help us be less confused by it and less lonely with it. The essence of art is that its case applies to millions.
Poets are in the business of emotion—distilling the complex blend and deciphering each feeling as it comes. The grandest theme is, of course, love, and, with poetry, we get to experience it twice. Poetry preserves and helps us remember. We trust poets to commemorate what is worth commemorating and what to leave behind. Often, we suffer from excessive gloom, especially when we’ve been forced apart from each other for so long, but the beautiful makes the ugliness of existence lighter to bear. Not only do the great poets sublimate their sorrows, but their close acquaintance with tragedy also helps them feel more alive to its opposite. As they honour their suffering with social expression, they help all of us feel less alone.
Loneliness is the painful feeling of being disconnected from others. It’s always been strange to me how alone we are in our loneliness as it is the most ubiquitous emotion. Perhaps by reading more about it we’ll realise that we’re not so different from one another. We all have the same needs, wants, doubts, and fears. Perhaps reading about all these things we’ve felt together will help us understand that we’re not as alone as we think we are, not even in our loneliness.
Let’s Talk About Aphorisms
At times it feels our greatest challenge is gaining control over our emotional lives. Ellis and Harper (1961) noted we are ‘language-creating animals’ that formulate our emotions and our ideas in terms of words and sentences. We are basically the sum of the things we tell ourselves, and any type of personal change requires us to look first at our internal conversations. Their talk therapy revealed that “The phrases and sentences that we keep telling ourselves usually are or become our thoughts and emotions.”
Their ‘Rational Emotive Therapy’ went against decades of orthodox psychoanalysis and sparked a revolution in psychology. Rational Emotive Therapy explains that emotions do not arise as a result of repressed desires and needs, as Freud insisted, but directly from our thoughts, ideas, attitudes, and beliefs. It is not the mysterious unconscious that matters most to our psychological health, but the humdrum statements we say to ourselves on a daily basis.
Added up, these represent our philosophy of life, one that can quite easily be altered if we are willing to change what we habitually say to ourselves.
Fool’s Gold: Poetry and Postcards Volume Two by Arch Hades is out now on Amazon in paperback and eBook formats, priced £8.99 and £3.50 respectively. For more information, visit www.archhades.com or follow her on Instagram
MEET THE AUTHOR: ARCH HADES
Arch Hades is arguably Britain’s most-followed poet, with more than one million followers on Instagram. Her writing is equally popular, with both her first collection, High Tide, and the newly-released Fool’s Gold, hitting the top of the book charts. In this exclusive interview, Arch discusses the theme of relationship breakdown that her new collection explores, her literary inspirations, and her writing process, among other things…
Q. You have just released your second poetry collection, Fool’s Gold, to critical acclaim. How would you sum up the book to readers?
A. Fool’s Gold narrates the breakdown of a relationship with a narcissist who couldn’t hide their true colours long. In sum, the book aims to remind its readers that it’s not real love if it destroys your peace.
Q. You have more than one million followers on social media, which is exceptional for a poet. What do you think is the secret of your appeal?
A. I hope it’s the candour.
Q. Your new collection charts the suffering you endured during a relationship with a narcissist, and how you dealt with it. What advice would you give to those who may be in a similar situation?
A. Do not ignore the red flags at the start as they will ultimately be the reason why a relationship ends. People do not change their cores; they only become more of what they already are.
Q. Your book also deconstructs the concept of unconditional love. Can you explain more about this?
A. I want to destroy the myth of unconditional love in romantic relationships that (especially) women are constantly being fed. If you want unconditional love, that’s what parents and dogs are for. But actually, there are conditions in romantic relationships. If your partner is mistreating you, neglecting you, disrespecting you, or simply just taking you for granted and not appreciating you, you do not have to stay with them however much you’ve been conditioned to out of guilt, or duty, or out of the nagging sense that you’ve ‘invested’ your time and energy into something. That time and energy is already gone; you’ll never get it back. Just leave.
Q. Both Fool’s Gold and your debut collection, 2018’s High Tide, have been no 1. Amazon bestsellers. How do you feel about achieving so much so early in your writing career?
A. I don’t think it’s much yet. I’ve only been doing this for three years. I feel like I’m only getting started.
Q. Who are your main literary influences, and what have you learned from them?
A. Kurt Vonnegut, who taught me to only write for one person and that the reader should always know what’s going on. Somerset Maugham, who taught me emotional dissection and evolution. Joseph Brodsky, who taught me not to mix metaphors and to be more confident in my observations.
Q. Both your collections are divided between lyrical poetry and a series of postcards documenting your travels around the world. What prompted you to combine the two elements?
A. It felt more accurate to how I work. I get more done whilst in transit, and I feel more observant when I’m in different places. The contrast helps to bring out minute internal changes.
Q. What, to you, is the secret of writing poetry that will resonate with a wide audience?
A. You just have to be honest. What comes from the heart touches the heart. I think the audience can tell if someone is being disingenuous.
Q. Can you briefly explain the process of crafting a poem to the point that you are ready to publish it?
A. Each poem should aim to tell just one truth. Start with the last line. Stick with one metaphor — it doesn’t have to complicated. Visualise the imagery you are trying to imbed. What are the colours, the smells, the temperature; how did each element make you feel? Write it all out, then structure it with meter, rhyme and rhythm. Read it aloud over and over until you’re confident it scans well. Edit it. Leave it alone. Read it again the next day with a fresh mind. Edit it. Repeat until you’re confident this is the truth you wanted to tell.
Q. What is next for you?
A. I would like to now focus on a long narrative poem dedicated to my true love – philosophy.