Lesbian eXcursions: Journeying through the personal narrative – Prologue
Dissertation submitted for the degree of M.A. Modern Literature: Theory and Practice, University of Leicester 1991
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Some parts of this dissertation were revised and subsequently published as Nicki Hastie, “Lesbian Bibliomythography” in Gabriele Griffin (ed.) Outwrite: Lesbianism and Popular Culture London: Pluto Press, 1993 pp.68-85
Writing in silence, writing in solitude, writing to pretend that wine is water, writing to spin the straw to gold, writing to whisper the secret of my ass’s ears till the very bulrushes poked at last through my monstrous School hat …
(Miss X or The Wolf Woman, Christine Crow)
I had known for a long while that books could be friends, but something happened to me at sixteen/seventeen which meant that life was only mediated through stories. I had my notebooks then, grey, not blue like Mary’s, but funnily enough purchased at Boots where I recently discovered “Poor Miss P” (see Christine Crow’s Miss X or The Wolf Woman) exchanged her library books. The notebooks were friends too because they opened up an imaginary Wilderness to me, where I could tentatively embrace the Unknown and consider who or what ‘X’ might be. Some of the thoughts were turned into poems. The one below, in particular, was lonely and enraged that books were not enough; but they were a point of entry: powerful. I knew their absence to be powerful too …
Because nothing’s easy I make
And bury my dreams under piles
Of other’s dirty laundry
In the surreptitious corner of a page
From some master chronicle of my development.
They become part of my awakening
But are acted in darkness,
Not to save the face of modesty
But because the imagination has
No-one on which to rehearse.
The creation of understudies and fill-ins;
The endless devotion to, and fascination with,
Mentors, great protectors, spring from the page
And the street to queue in great numbers
As the wheel of transference makes its rounds.
There is adoration abound; no shortage of energy.
All this role-playing and closet aspiration
Call it desire; Call it love –
Just because my love lies unacknowledged and undisclosed –
It was alright for Rossetti, though she had
Her ‘offending’ poems erased from celebratory collections
Such burning desire enflamed her verse
But no merit – lovers unfamed;
And my books and my idols have no love for me
If they never do see my purpose.
In the personal “Odyssey” voice may be given to No-one, Nobody, ‘Outis’, ‘X’.