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December 18, 2008


Yesterday I saw Milk, a film about the political and personal life of Harvey Milk, the first openly gay man to be elected to public office in California.

The film does something that is so difficult to achieve in writing, acting - anything mimicking or reflecting upon what makes us human, about what we as humans aspire to, what we are afraid of, fight for, live through. The characters are believable and never villified or characatured in any way. Sean Penn's performance in the lead role is outstanding. The script was clearly written with passionate interest and respect for it's subject, and I only wish I could construct such a masterful character portrayal!

March 07, 2008

To Chaucer

When March pierces the cockled veins of December

funnels through the dry cool of sleeping volume with honey saliva,*

swells the lank roots into damp ground,

washes out old deaths with its clear liquor

forcing seeds to tipple life through cracking shells,

when the wind stops his hacking winter coughs,

his breath full of warm green babies,

sighing in the copses, gossiping in the mosses;

when the young sun glows through wafer curtains at 5.30am,

and her grandfather matadors bow to the victorious

Ram who trots along their spines with a snigger,

when little flautists pounce and skim new foliage

improvising melodies that steal the heart of nature, and my own –

it was then –




(*OR funnelling its honey saliva into the dry cool of sleeping volume,)

February 06, 2008

Hospital Ward

(after Walt Whitman's A Noiseless Patient Spider)

A coughing, tiring spinster
I saw here, on a long cockle bed, she wept, remembering,
saw how she burrowed her temples for memories.
She teased out brittle hair, brittle hair, with cold rocking smiles;
always sat winding them, wakefully wrapping them.

My soul, you sleep warm in your shell -
escapes barred, lights curtained by eternal firmaments black -
forever sleeping, rejecting, huddling – building walls to shade your face.
You fear the time your path is cleared – your brittle scalp plucked bald;
when the white tufts I gather, remember, awake and cold.

January 11, 2008

The Stake

My spine is a naked dusty tree

designed to splinter me inside,

and leave me juicy.

I, the sail of this creaking mast,

move nowhere,

ripping the vast winds apart.

My face leaks into the sun.

I am a cracked human, so tortured

I have lost myself.

Once I spun miracles

like wool from my sleeves,

but even Lazarus…

Complaining, complaining,

always whining.

Only my mother sits

weeping and sighing,

heaving and crying

at my last drips of life.

Leave me, leave me to drip.

Don’t bother with your worship.

This has been a hopeless body,

from its slippery beginning

to its squealing end.

Could I buy freedom from it?

Take my soul, a thousand pounds!

A hundred! Ten!

No takers.

I feel anger.

I am jealous to all who love and live.

I am starving.

I am too tired to move.

I am afraid.

On the stake,

I have been broken.

My skin flaked,

my brain ached.

My defecation,

my urination,

dripping, dripping

to the pool at my mother’s knees.

She whispers ‘please’.

September 27, 2007

Georgeanne Eliot

I was in Waterstone's in Coventry, handing over a CV, and in passing a large group of plump middle aged women waiting in line at the cash desk, I overheard the following being said in a dogmatic manner.

'You know, George Eliot is actually a woman - Georgeanne Eliot - because in 'er day, it was a bad thing to be a woman writer.'

The surrounding ladies 'oh really'ed and 'wow'ed the statement.

I almost stopped to correct them, but realised that the fault was so minor in this context (Eliot's real name was Mary Anne Evans - she had chosen the pen name 'George' because it was that of her lover), that if I did I would be looked up and down and sneered at for my pompousity. So I moved on.

Walking home I realised that although there was some misinformation being blithely tossed about, I had witnessed a very unlikely bunch of people taking an interest in historical literature and its context under the roof of a bookshop: wonderful. If any of them actually did take the interest which they conveyed in Eliot, then hopefully they'd nose through a biography, or jot to a computer and google her. This way the might be able to correct their friends themselves, and take that satisfaction which we all do from time to time by widening our own knowledge through passing personal interest and private study. I was glad, then, that I did not interfere, for I may have put them off.

August 27, 2007

Why writing has the potential to find success and satisfaction in honesty

I don't know about you, but I find that I am far more comfortable talking honestly to an audience of one person, than an audience of two or more. Even if I don't know the one person very well, and the two people were good friends, I would still feel that I could be more open with the one person.


It's to do with instinctive empathy. To feel 'empathy' is to identify and understand another's feelings. Why do we experience empathy? To fit into our society. We need empathy so that we help one another survive to further progress our species. But empathy can also instil fear and alienation.


Example 1: there is one person - Bob - listening to Gertrude explain how she likes to walk rather than ride her bicycle. Bob nods his head in an understanding way, and even agrees with her on certain points of her argument, even if he had, before now, disagreed with her. His objective is to fit in with Gertrude because she, like him, is human and he wishes to fit in with human society.

Example 2: there are two people - Bob and Ashok - listening to Gertrude explain how she likes to walk rather than ride her bicycle. Bob and Ashok will listen, but will have another more pressing objective in mind: they wish to empathise with each other's reactions to Gertrude. They are united by both being on the receiving ends of Gertrude's voice. They might (both afraid that the other thinks Gertrude foolish for opinions) look at each other dubiously, and put some effort into predicting the other's responce, and then act upon it. This way, Bob and Ashok will be united, and Gertrude will be left alien to the duo.

Of course, this example is on a small scale. Gertude's opinion could be that homosexuality should be legal in every country, that God does not exist, that God does exist ... whatever. The thing that makes Bob react to her in a certain way, is often due to the fear of what someone else in the room may think of her ideas.

Naturally I have simplified the influences upon Bob. They are more complex than that which I have explained, but the general rule holds. If you get someone on their own, away from the presence of the rest of society's influences, then they are far more likely to consider your argument with a level head. And of course age will affect Bob, too. If Bob were 15, he would be more impressionable than if he were 73.

Now, to get to the point: written language is a silent conversation between only two people - the writer and the reader. The reader will be in their most weakened state of empathy while reading, because they are the only one (as far as they are concerned) on the listening end of the narrative. Sometimes people read for that very reason: they want to empathise with a character and they want to find a voice that will be honest with them, because perhaps they really will understand what the writer is saying as long as they shut their mind to the rest of society.

Films can work in a similar way. But it's the silence of reading to oneself, and the extensively detailed nature of a book's expression, that makes writing the ideal container for the honest thoughts of those of us who do not wish to risk revealing them to two or more people at once.

August 22, 2007

Summer Reading

One of my chosen modules for the coming academic year is the English Nineteenth-Century Novel.

I will be honest with you. I chose the module, not because I am striving to challenge myself and further my mental capacities into unknown territory, but because I had read several books on the list and seen versions of many of the others on TV. And they were of the type I enjoyed reading, and watching.

When choosing modules, I was very close to picking the European Novel instead, but, knowing full well I am a slow reader incapable of skimming, I forced myself to set aside any thoughts in that direction. I can read those classics (along with The Illiad, The Odyssey and Paradise Lost which I missed in the Epic module last year) whenever I wish, individual of a University course, without the pressure of my reading being scrutinised. I do not pretend to be smarter than I am, and will not lie about it. My academic writing needs to be fine tuned, and my objective is to receive good results on my degree, not to challenge myself to a level higher than I am capable of excelling in.

The books I had already read were as follows: The Picture of Dorian Grey (Wilde), Tess of the d'Urbervilles (Hardy), and The Mill on the Floss (Eliot). I have seen television versions of Bleak House (Dickens), North and South (Gaskell), and two each of Persuasion (Austen) and Tess. Many of the author's works I am already familiar with (Austen, Dickens, Hardy, Eliot, C. Brontë, and Wilde).

So far this summer, I have read Persuasion, Shelley's Frankenstein, and Gissing's New Grub Street.

I had never heard of George Gissing before, and was put off by finding images of him on Google with the precise sort of moustache I hate; however, moustaches aside, I found his writing to be brilliant. He speaks with such accuracy of character objectives, that you understand each and every one of them, and see yourself reflected from the page in sentences which mirror (many times shameful) truths at you ... 'Satisfied that he did not value her, to begin with, for her own sake, she was very willing to accept money as her ally in the winning of his love' ... 'But the thing [one most desires] is impossible, and, what's more, we know what ridiculous fallibility people display when they imagine they have found the best substitute for that indiscoverable' ... ‘all this is contemptible, of course; but we live in a contemptible society, and can’t help ourselves.’

I especially found myself identifying with Marian. ‘She could not breathe a word which might be interpreted as fear lest the change of her circumstances should make a change in his feeling. Yet that was in her mind. The existence of such a fear meant, of course, that she did not entirely trust him, and viewed his character as something less than noble ... Passion is comipatible with a great many of these imperfections of intellectual esteem. To see more clearly into Jasper’s personality was, for Marian, to suffer the intolerable dread lest she should lose him.’

I couldn’t resist, halfway through the book, to flip to the last page (as any thirteen year old might do), to read the last couple of sentences. I couldn’t believe what was there. No happy ending, that’s for sure. Gissing’s insightful style, having inspired you with the hope that he – who clearly wanted his characters to have a happy ending – will fulfil all that they desire, defies its own empathetic tendencies. At least, you might think, he could have given all of his characters an equilibrium of misery. However, he allows the characters who live with a conscious desire to retain money and social standing their happy world of dreamy bliss, and allows the characters who have ideals not to do with the gaining of money of social rank to die in lonely squalor. The sorrow of the book’s ending, though it may leave you with the flavour of intense disgust in you mouth, is entirely faithful to the realities of life in the human hive.

So I attempted to face a creative exercise, though it was less of an attempt at creativity, and more of an attempt to verbalise my own experiences of the previous year in the truthful, pitiless style of Gissing. Halfway through it, however, I finished New Grub Street and began Bleak House, and the effect of what your reading has upon what your writing has never struck me so full in the face. What to admire about Dickens is his use of comic irony, lively listful descriptions, and the grotesque; noting this my writing moved away from Gissing’s in a way I did not approve of. So I stopped reading Dickens to finish my own exercise in order to stay truthful to the style I, for that moment, more admired.

For me, Gissing’s writing has been a great eye opener for how close to life writing can be, and how success in this genre (realism) is found in putting that which you truly have felt, or know others have felt around you, into precise wording, regardless of any shame that may be felt by it.

May 18, 2007

Rat – thoughts, anyone?

Sock-sharp, stickling feet,

Knowing breath, knowing teeth,

Leathered gloves, tickled belly,

Sniff-nose a slicky-slime balloon,

Jugular clock a tick-tock-dickery

Sexing rhythm a jukebox swoon.

Under water, under snouting mud,

Fleas flee toe-tippley drunk on blood,

Drunk on creed-suck of canker sweat,

Bulbous salt of nose, of lip,

Shudders in pipe, shudders breath,

Humans’ calloused plague-ridden pet.

May 04, 2007

Wuthering Heights – A Rant

I recently saw a film version of the book with Juliette Binoche and Ralph Fiennes, because my opinion of the book is not a high one, and I thought that maybe if I saw a film version the directors divine vision of it (plus a couple of good actors) would improve mine. However, it only served to remind me how very much I despise the book.

I've always hated it, since I opened the first badly written page to the time I closed the overly tragic, cringeworthy last. Granted, the characters are interesting, the plot is complex, but does that make it any good? And, really, the cycle of names drives me mad. When I read a book I want to get the story, I don't want to be banging my head against a wall trying to sort out names and who everyone is the child of.

And the violence. I don't get it. Why do people like it? Heathcliff is a git, a twat, etc, etc. His character is not only frightening, but absurd. A wild spirit from the moors, indeed. Ptsh. And also the kind of love Bronte was portraying is that tragic idealised sort - passionate, obsessive, unstopable, and unlikely to occur unless you're a stalker. The book seems like a teenager's (or in this case, a woman in her late twenties) way to pass the time, not a literary work of genius.

I can't believe some people actually think Emily Bronte was a better writer than Charlotte.

Rant done.

April 17, 2007

Paris: Places: Pictures

Day One


Fig. 1, Sacré-Cœur, Montmatre


Fig. 2, What all those people above are looking at


Fig. 3, er, take a wild guess


Fig. 4, early morning view from our hotel window

Day Two


Fig. 5, Tour Eiffel


Fig. 6, it's massive 


Fig. 7, Pont Alexandre III


Fig. 8, Pont Alexandre III again - I just love this photo.

Day Three


Fig. 8, The Louvre


Fig. 9, Notre-Dame on the Ile de la Cité

Day Four


Fig. 10, Beaubourg

April 01, 2007

OK, so that last post was a bit crap

Follow-up to Filling in Space from Putting Cheese in the Mouseholes

Welllllllll it's not my fault, is it? Having been instructed to keep up a blog and update it fairly often, that's what happens.

So, what has Gwen been up to this holiday? Well, not much. Sitting about, reading, writing a bit, trying to ignore Dad in the background as he asks me a thousand innocuous questions about the camera I have barely used but whose batteries keep running out.

I'm so happy to see my cats again (which apparently I should never say online if I'm looking for a romantic partner - I read in some article that people think you're all hairy and dusty and wear your hair in a loose bun at the top of your head with bits falling out all over your mammoth-sized jumper)

Cat owner
Woman who owns a cat. 


my cat
A cat. (One of mine, in fact)

So, have I actually done anything of interest lately? Well, I'm going to gobble lunch, then I'm going on a walk in the sunshine, then I'm going to the cinema to see Amazing Grace to druel over Ioan Gruffudd and, no doubt, experience some sort of catharsis.

See you later.

March 27, 2007

Filling in Space

First things first - the song below is rather mopey and sad, so smile:


OK, now the song (inhale): 

Hear me one last time
before you insist I close my mind.
Mull over all the things I've said,
think of all the hints I've left...
The words of this song
(this ember of my love)
I'll snuff before long.
Hear it's one last lonesome flicker
in this song.

And if there is any hope
say it, say it, say it;
say it, say it, say it;
say it now.

Oh speak before this song sighs
into silence, silence, silence;


(quieter) silence, silence, silence;


(even quieter) silence, silence, silence...
I'm still hoping, so speak up now.


Hear me just one last final time
before you close my lips with a sigh:
remember all those things I said
which now you say I should forget,
the embers of this heart
(the victim of your fire)
I'll snuff of all desire...
hear its one last lonesome flicker
in this song.

Hear this one last





(long pause)



There there. It's over. Cheer up again:

Johnny Bravo

March 19, 2007

Becoming Jane is the one to see

Alright, so I'm going a bit Jane Austen MAD here, but recently I saw the film Becoming Jane and since I loved it I think a little mention of it on the old blog won't hurt. Plus James McAvoy is so very very handsome.

Mr Tumnus

Alright, so perhaps not so much as the lovable faun in The Chronicles of Narnia, but that was a dreary film so lets not think about it too much.

So, Becoming Jane:

in the library

Hathaway was lovely, although my father said she let her accent slip at times (this comment was made only after I had told him she was American), and I felt that she and McAvoy acted beautifully together. Not just because they're both lovely to look at, but because they clearly portrayed their character's passion for one other. My heart was pounding whenever they were in each other's company. Their chemistry was outstanding. If you like Jane Austen, costume dramas in general, druel-worthy cinematography, fabulous acting or just a good romance full of sexual tension, then this film is for you.

Not as much could be said about ITV's adaptation of Mansfield Park. 'Twas really rather sad. Billie Piper was alright, but she wasn't quite shy enough, and her hair pissed me off - seriously whoever did the hair for it was an idiot. No woman would wander around with their hair looking exactly as we have it today. Growl. The camera work was tragic, as per usual for TV, with all the dodgy 'wobbly vision, but on purpose' bollocks.

'But why do you insist on wobbling the camera?'
'It looks good. It's fashionable. It's modern and styalistic.'
'Yes, but it gives the viewer a headache.'
'Hm. Your loss if you don't understand our genius visions of artistic briliance.'

ARGH. But there was a consolation ... Edmund was played by Blake Ritson, and he did it rather well ... actually the acting over all was good, really. It was the camera work that let it down. Also the music, like the hairstyling, was too modern at many points. I'm sure it was all on purpose, but it just didn't fit. And for some reason the plot didn't seem to work, either. They skimmed it down too much. Damn ITV, I was looking forward to it so much and they went and ruined it.

March 14, 2007

Sense and Sensibility

Many things have happened to me since the last time I saw the film version of Jane Austen's classic. I've had many more experiences concerning love, physical attraction, and venturing the world as a lone adult.

I have to say the depth of emotions I empathised with while watching the film exceeded my expecations. Feelings that didn't even occur to me existed to the extent that they do the last time I saw the film popped up everywhere. The overiding emotions were 1) the sheer thrill of the encapsulated moment when everthing seems just right,


followed by 2) the maturing aftermath of pain which seems deep and eternal and just plain nasty when you realise how very perfect things were, and how you've lost them.

crying kate

Nice and cheery for a sunny day, eh?

Of course, as time moves on, you move on with it and find Alan Rickman to replace the passion of your life, or discover that Hugh Grant really did love you after all. And through it all the strength of the emotion you once felt stays with you.

Blimey, re-reading this post it sounds as though some incredible relationship of mine has just ended. Ha, no worries. My experience of the emotions in the film are not all restricted to one relationship or another, but more of a montage of about five years. Just so people know I'm not aiming this post at anyone! :)

March 12, 2007

Putting Cheese in the Mouseholes

Mr Pugh, in the School House opposite, takes up the morning tea to Mrs Pugh, and whispers on the stairs:


Here's your arsenic, dear.
And your weedkiller biscuit.
I've throttled your parakeet.
I've spat in the vases.
I've put cheese in the mouseholes.
Here's your...
                       [Door creaks open]
...nice tea, dear.

Why did I choose this extract of Dylan Thomas's Under Milk Wood as an inspiration for the title of my blog? Because the imagery used makes me chuckle in awe. I felt I needed to share this chuckle.

Dylan Thomas

An inspiration.

Second inspiration of the day, discovered by me not long after (and just that little bit cooler than) John Denver:

Robert Johnson

Robert Johnson - a blues singer. A legend. Hot.

And I feel so lonesome
you hear me when I moan...

Now you know the coils ain't even buzzin
little generator won't get the spark

Motors in a bad condition
you gotta have these batteries charged

But I'm cryin please
please don't do me wrong

Who been drivin my terraplane now for
you-hoo since I've been gone...

I had been playing Terraplane Blues (lyrics above) from a guitar book for ages, and only found the initiative to download it yesterday. This was a good idea. He is also an interesting guy to research: there are only two photos of him in existence, he wrote a load of songs, and was supposedly poisened at a fairly young age ... that's pretty much all people know of him. I love trying to fill in the gaps.

March 10, 2007


I've made two discoveries today, both of which I should have made a lot earlier on:

1) the path behind Rootes,




2) John Denver. My hero.

good ol

March 08, 2007

The Secrets of Morality

What is morality?

I've been handing out surveys. The questions are not all specifically on morality. They look like this:

Anonymous Survey

What’s the point of this survey?

My name is Gwen Kent and I am an English Literature and Creative Writing student at the University of Warwick. I have been instructed to investigate whatever I am intrigued by for a report – my chosen path was that of our relationship, as individuals, with society. This survey is a way of gathering general information about people’s relationship with their social surroundings. Thank you for your time.

1. Have you ever had desires that you never told anyone about?
No (if no go to question 3)

2. Is this because they are socially unacceptable, or because you are embarrassed by them?
Because they are socially unacceptable
Because you are embarrassed

Other (please specify)

3. Have you ever seriously considered doing something that you wanted to do, but resisted it because of what others would think?

No (if no go to question 5)

4. Who were these ‘others’? (tick all that apply)

Your parents
Your family in general
Your friends
Your fellow workers

Society in general

5. Have your ever seen a psychiatrist?
Yes (go to question 8)

6. Have you ever felt you needed to see a psychiatrist?
No (go to question 8)

7. Why didn’t you? (tick all that apply)
I felt my problem wasn’t serious enough
I thought I could handle it by myself
Religion helped me through it
My friends helped me through it
My parents helped me through it
A sibling helped me through it
I didn’t have enough money.

8. Are you religious?

9. If your answer to question 8. was ‘yes’: how ‘religious’ (ie, how much do you believe in and follow the doctrines of your religion) are you?
Very religious
Fairly religious
I only loosely follow the doctrines of my religion

10. If you answer to question 8. was ‘no’: how do you feel about there being no written document which gives one a moral code to follow?
No problem, I follow my own moral code
The Law is my code 

I follow what my family and friends think have taught me is moral
Morals are a fiction (go to question 13)

11. Would you say you are a moral person?
I’m not sure

12. In as few words as possible, explain what the word ‘moral’ means to you.

13. Have you ever considered that your personality is a construct, developed by the fear of what other’s opinions of you are?
Yes, and I disagree
Yes, and I agree
Yes, and I’m not sure whether it’s true or not
Haven’t thought about it

14. Have you ever been afraid that your life, due to social expectations, will not be what you want it to be?

15. Rank the following characteristics 1-9, according to you, in order of positivity and importance (1 being most positive/important, 9 being least):




Sense of Humour






16. Rank the following characteristics 1-8, according to you, in order of negativity (1 being most negative, 8 being least):









Basically, I constructed the survey before I knew precisely what I wanted to look at, but now - based on the few results I have - I'm intrigued by questions 11, 12 and 13. Everybody so far said they were a moral person, but few actually described what they thought 'moral' meant. The most intriguing and provokative definition so far is: Following the rules of society. Considering what others would want you to do in a particular situation.

Some people have been most affronted by question 13, saying 'that's ridiculous, you're a fool, who in the world thinks that', while others have raised no objections whatsoever and quietly ticked the box 'Yes, and I agree'.

If you would like to assist me in my project, by filling out a servey or leaving a comment on any of the mentioned issues, please do. You can send a filled out a survey to my email, gwenfron.kent@warwick.ac.uk, if the mood takes you.

ps, a big thank you to those who have already taken part. :)

March 06, 2007

Oh, The Reading

Yes, so English is my chosen degree, but I have a nasty secret: I am a slow reader.

That's right, I cannot physically skim read. It's impossible. I have to go through each sentence and take absolutely everything, each word, each full stop, in. Occasionally, if I'm not 'in the mood', if the gods feel like tormenting me for their sport, then I don't take anything in, even if I try my hardest and force myself to stare at the page, read it aloud, sing it - nothing works. A shutter behind my eyes which links them to my brain goes up, and the connection, just like that, is cut.

Of course, sometimes I have good days, where I read a book and some in a day. These are rare. 

Overall, this is a devistating disability in the face of an English Degree. Thank goodness this year isn't assessed is all I can say - the reading for next year I'll do in the summer.

Well, better get to the torturous business in the time I have left before my lecture ...

March 04, 2007


It's a dreary place until something like this happens.

guitar light

I'm a big guitar fan. Acoustic, folk - fantastic. My favourite album of all time has to be Simon and Garfunkel live in New York. Their lyrics, although often clichéd, are, as far as I'm concerned, wonderful.

They taught me anapaests, And the leaves that are green turn to brown, and through that I understood the basic concepts of rhythm, and how it can turn language into music, and what makes the pop songs of today complete shite.

Compare the lyrics of, say, the Backstreet Boys:

You are my fire
My one desire
Believe me when I say
That I want it that way

And then Simon and Garfunkel:

...And how the room has softly faded,
And I only kiss your shadow,
I cannot feel your hand,
You're a stranger now unto me
Lost in the dangling conversation
And superficial sighs
In the borders of our lives.

Simon and Garfunkel any day.

March 02, 2007

Blog Number Three

Rather embarrassingly, this is my third blog. The first one I started in May 2006. It's a great thing, and I've had an affection for it since, well, since May 2006. I've always loved designing things, and the limited aesthetic options available in the blogosphere are just as exciting as any empty canvas. The content is essentially whatever whenever. If I feel like writing, I write. If I don't, I don't. Some months I have over six entries, others none. Simple. So this whole 'two day' thing is a challenge and I'm wondering whether I'll be able to keep up.

The second blog I started is a bit shameful, really - I created a fictional character. People think he's real. Sad, but surprisingly fun. Especially when I got an avid fan of my character. But, predictably, this enjoyment wasn't without it's guilt - I had created a fictitious character who meant something to someone because they thought he was real. But then, why should it matter? Even if he was real they would never meet anyway. So, I'm still keeping that blog, though sporadically.

And now there's this one. Marvelous.

See you in two days.