Writing From Below | Writing the (Raped) Body - Heather Briony McGinn
Writing From Below

Writing the (Raped) Body

Heather Briony McGinn

#1 (now)

I keep my scars

On index cards

A library of memory

I keep your words

Caged like birds

Within my ribcage

#2 (then)

My body is not your

Diagnostic

Tool shaped from lust

My body is not your

Protracted

Kink turned outward

My body is not your

Question

Answered with bruises

My body is not

Is not your body

#3 (after)

He let me go

He let me go barefoot

Barefoot onto the asphalt

The asphalt sharp with heat

Heat awakening horror

Horror living in the skin

The skin hurting and itchy

Itchy from violence and fear

Fear growing fur on the teeth

The teeth set against the tongue

The tongue dry and foul

Foul with secret wrongdoing

Wrongdoing done

Done by him

He let me go

He let me go barefoot

ERA Research Statement

Research background

Quinn Eades reminds us that Helene Cixous writes that “Life becomes text starting out from my body. I am already text” (Cixous in Eades 2017). The writing of the raped body, then, is perhaps a matter of translation between physical sensations and textual expressions. But how to record an ever changing experience such as the one of existing in a body that is simultaneously hurting and healing? As Eades writes, “This body is a layered, becoming, disintegrating, growing, shifting moment in time” (2015, 12). Writing the (Raped) Body is the result of this exploration.

Research contribution

Jeanette Winterson writes of Kathy Acker’s work, “Vomit, shit, urine, cocks, cunts, assholes, blood, the body are intimately described, and not in the language of cloudy romance” (2002, ix) . Writing the (Raped) Body attempts to record the text created by the hurt and healing body from a place within that body. This piece engages with the power of poetics in order to tell the story of a raped body from within a raped body. This practice produces work that is unexpected, fractured, mirroring the body that has written it, and not tied to any particular poetic form or tradition. Laurie Weeks recalls being inspired by Acker and the beat poets, and describes the writing process as one of wanting to “…derange language…to practice literary alchemy in order to liberate myself” (Boaz 2011, 45).

Research significance

Writing the (Raped) Body records the existential challenges faced by the abused body, revealing the sensation of healing through the medium of poetry. These pieces are written as an exercise in exploring the process of writing from the body, and designed to be an observation and a description of the raped body. Read as a tryptic from #1 to #3, this work moves through the feminist idea of écriture feminine (Cixous in Barry, 2009, 122), and approaches Eades’ theory of écriture tatouages (2015, 12), echoing the declaration, “This body that writes is the living of a life” (ibid.).

These two theories provided the platform for this piece. Written from the female body and speaking about hurt caused by the violence perpetuated by a male body, this poetry sits as witness to the failings of a patriarchal society and uses the notion of écriture feminine to convey the truth about rape. The theory of écriture feminine is problematic, however, as it is gendered. Moving beyond the gender binary, then, makes room for a new theory of written language; that of écriture tatouages. This approach is present in this piece also, as this piece is written from a body, and a body does not need to identify with one gender over another in order to produce the written word. It simply writes: “I am body, in this moment, writing, this” (ibid.)

Works Cited

Barry, P. (2009).Beginning Theory: An Introduction to Literary and Cultural Theory. Manchester, UK: Manchester University Press.

Boaz, A. (2011). Deranging Language. Publishers Weekly, 258(34): p45-45.

Eades, Q. (2017). ‘Art(i)culating the Body: Writing Workshop with Quinn Eades’, SA Gender, Sex and Sexualities Postgraduate and ECR Research Conference 2017: Art(i)culations of Violence, July 12th 2017 , University of South Australia.

Eades, Q. (2015). all the beginnings. North Melbourne, VIC: Tantanoola/Australian Scholarly Publishing Ltd.

Scholder, A., Cooper, D., & Winterson, J. (2002). Essential Acker – the selected writings of Kathy Acker. New York, NY: Grove Press.



 

Facebook: Follow us on FacebookTwitter: @WritingBelow

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Australia License.

ISSN: 2202-2546

© Copyright 2015 La Trobe University. All rights reserved.

CRICOS Provider Code: VIC 00115M, NSW 02218K