Recognition | a Collection by Annie Brown

unravelling: Girl in Tift // Iphis Holds Her Hair // Pushed to One Side // Beasts of Contract reversal: Iphis

recognition: Cotton Tongue, I // Cotton Tongue, II // Mephistopheles // The Early Twenties

Permanence Anxiety // Guesswork // That’s My Boy // Recognition


LISTEN TO 'RECOGNITION' ON SPOTIFY HERE


Work by @_gaby_rc



i. unravelling


I think I am the only one

But then I hear you speak.

I thought I was alone

But then I read.


Take me by the hand

And pull me to my feet

I’m weeping

I’m exhausted

But still me.


Now the girl in tift

Measures the hollows of your hips

And the flat of your chest,

You’re a mystery like this

This a puzzle-sprawl

This a funnel

all

reddish and split.


I steal from Ali Smith,

Ali Smith steals from Ovid.

And the girl in tift

Moves in whirs and clicks


And steals as she spits.


My feeling is mutation,

Which expands

and shifts

The pronouns breaking even

Just for now

the breaths I’m stealing

In the hollow of my hand.


Take me up with your eyes

You don’t have to understand

But you might recognise

These things I describe.

Come come, expand.


Now every heartbreak, rejection

(if you can call it this)

Now every story that you hear

that reflects some piece of you

some bit

All these bring you closer

Closer to the girl in tift.


You think you are the only one

But then you hear us speak.

You think you are alone

But then you read.


*

She wishes she’d said

She wished they’d had sex

She’s running up hills,

She’s out of breath.


The shrike beats the thrush,

The Maybelline blush.

Two days in a tracksuit.

She’s sick in her blood.


She’s violently wrong,

She misses her mum.

The time of her life?

Her time of the month.


And I

Find it hard

To try

Sometimes.


He didn’t call,

She just decides,

Like penny in drain,

This maelstrom night.


And she’s getting drunk,

Won’t meet with his gaze.

This room is so cold,

Everything’s grey


And everything’s lame,

When he’s come halfway

And it’s just the wrong day

And she just looks a state.


And I find

It hard

To try

Sometimes.


The circuit repeats:

She’s knocked off her feet.

Mama say no

Mama say please.


She’s shaving her legs,

Nags and frustrates.

It comes out in patches;

She’s going insane.


No time, she can't eat.

No time, she can't sleep.

Is it just her?

Does everyone cheat?


She’s sick in the sink,

I’m holding her hair.

I don’t even flinch.

Lord knows I’ve been there.



But I still

Find it hard

To try

Sometimes.


But I’ve survived.

I’ve survived.



I survived

by pushing a thought to one side,

I kept my habits in check, to keep me alive,

Tried to find a piece of balance and figure things out

But we are not free in what we need.

So here I am pushing words from apologetic mouth.

Everything is fractured, but then you zoom out.

Wasn’t enough to be told, you had to know for sure

Sometimes to get better you have to hit the floor.

Yes, I rocked the boat. I did, I made waves.

Broke the pattern to speak a Brother’s Complaint.

And I was brave, said what I needed to say.

Are you anything like me? Do you feel the same?

The cancer’s in the gutter drive

It will eat you alive

It will eat you alive

It will eat you alive

It will eat you alive.

It is pushed to one side,

My head thrown back, a smile splits and cracks,

Love all you want. But they may not love you back.

Lips pursed. Beautiful wreckage renewed;

When I grow up, I'll be just like you.

Now I just want to move, I want to feel numb.

To hang up your face, to frame it with my thumbs.

But say you say something, try to straighten things out,

You hold worth in your words. Kindness in your mouth.

I can’t explain it but

I feel.

I feel something great

Growing from my palms,

Appearing in my heart.


I, I feel.

I feel something great

Growing out from my palms,

Appearing in my heart.


*


Come you, brave beasts of contract,

To take back what you’re owed.

It takes courage to debt-collect

From orphans on the road

And on the run.

They hold their praise-palms high.

We should be kind to each other.

While we still have time.


The day is dead,

The night mourns her,

I bow my head amongst the fauna,

But they are beasts of contract,

They’re not obliged to love you back.


The Fool is blessed because she learns

how little that she knows.

In the shadows of her temperance

Grace, translucent, loves and glows.

So she sees through you, your face,

Washes away the grime,

Says

“We should be kind to each other.

While we still have time.”


The day is sympathetic.

Night understands, but mourns her.

You watch,

I nod my head amongst the fauna.

We are such beasts of contract.

We’re not obliged to love you back.


I’m lonely, and I miss you, babe,

The train slips from the station

Like pennies slip from giving hands.

You’re rain-sodden.

I’m patient,

You’re drained, sudden.

It’s fine;

I think

We should be kind to each other.

While we still have time.


The day, she waves goodbye,

And the nocturne mourns her.

My face against the train window

I see you, nodding fauna,

I see a beast of contract

Who's not obliged to love me back.


‘No’ is so mighty-beautiful,

Firework of a word.

It made a camel out of Gravity,

And a carpet out of Hurt.

But ‘no’ is honest, too, it’s dazzling.

It shines.

We should be kind to each other.

While we still have time.


The day is half undressed

And night half full of rapture her.

Instead, she sleeps and brackets me,

Here, amongst the fauna.

Although we are beasts of contract,

We cannot decide to love you back.


Of late I’ve been unfeeling,

Itself a feeling, overwhelms.

Humbles in its movement,

And in approval, shifts and swells.

And it dopes me and it numbs me,

Until I’m weary, crying.

I still believe we should be kind to each other.

While we still have time.


The day is gone.

The night, graceful, has mourned her,

Has cast her web of stars on me,

And all of midnight’s fauna.

Leaves at dawn,

Fiver folded in her palm

Moves like she’s a beast of contract,

She's like an echo coming back.


You don’t need to be an expert

To see that there are breeds of Love,

And faces worn like shifting masks,

Each face is good enough.

So don’t mourn yet, Niobe,

Because one face fell out of sight.

We should be kind to each other.

Because we still have time.


The day is only partial-dead,

The night unjustly mourns her.

And standing mercy-washed

Amidst the freakish fauna

I am so grateful, beast of contract,

That you’re trying to love me back.



ii. reversal



New warnings,

bad fortune,

bad press would have glutted Crete.

But then the transition of Iphis saw better tidings for us,

and miracles we could believe in even now. Imagine Phaestus.

We’re near Cnossos.


There’s a man called Ligdus,

a man just like you and me,

a delicate man, not famous, not rich.

In life he was guiltless.

In everything he was guiltless.


He had this wife,

Let’s call her Telethusa.

Got pregnant

she got warned. It went,


“I want two things, I never asked for much (I think).

I want you to birth a man,

and lightness for your suffering.

Another daughter is a task, I can’t protect her.

If that baby is a girl I will reject her.”


That’s what her husband said.

He cried buckets and flooded his face.

She was commanded and she wept;

he did the commanding and it was hard for him too.


But still Telethusa tried to win her husband, not to give in to his fears.

Ligdus decided he was right, and so had closed his ears.


And now she was struggling to hold this troublesome kid inside of her.


Nocturne, the witching hour.

Some rivermoon creature spoons her beneath her dreams.

Or stands or so it seems.

A proxy of familiars after her in streams.


Child of a little silver slipper of a moon,

she was wet-eared and hot-gold-headed, dressed like royalty.


With her was that man who coaxes and persuades,

a finger down his throat.

And with her Anubis, the soldier.

And with her Bubastis, the divine.

And with her Osiris, the cravenchild.

And with her Apis, the queer.


And look! Here was the travelling snake,

carrying sleep on her fangs as she was.


And the rattle shook and she was shaken out of sleep.

Here she is, seeing ordinary gods in the flesh.


The moonchild speaks, she says:


“Telethusa, you belong to me. Ignore your husband (little man of misery). Give

birth and raise your kid as is. I am a goddess, I can take that weight. Ask and I

will let you take."



She said this, then slipped from the bed.

Telethusa knelt all full of joy to give thanks to pale stars. She raised her hands and prayed

that what she’d seen would come to pass.


The pain increased.

She pushed this burden out of her and into the fresh air.


A girl was born unbeknown to her father,

the mother gave the order to raise her daughter as a son.

And only the midwife knew the fiction.


And she had this matter in hand. One thing Telethusa did concede her husband,

that the child was named Iphis after her grandpa.

The name was androgynous,

it had a kind of giddy joy that hid the lie.


And there was planted a dutiful fiction that slept over the coming years.

She was raised like a boy. She was a pretty boy / a handsome girl.


Fast-forward a few years.

Iphis’ father has funded her engagement to Ianthe, a real Kylie Minogue type.

This girl!

Everyone loved her, good parents, almost a virgin I’ve been told.

They were both gorgeous,

about the same age,

and actually were classmates at one stage.


Look at the two of you.

This love had hit you both rudely in the chests, it left you raw.

But you wanted different things.

Ianthe, I saw you counting towards your marriage day with baited breath,

although you thought you wanted a man,

and that he was that man.

Iphis you were so full of love.

You held back tears. You got hot for all the world,

you got hot for girl-on-girl. You were desperate to be held.


“Where does this end?” you said,

“Strange sorrow on my head.

Nobody has ever felt like this before,” you said,

“If God was merciful, he would have shown me mercy.

If he was going to shaft me,

he should have shafted me with some normal grief.

No heifer for a heifer, not the same.

The ram for ewe. The stag that loves the doe.

There are no dykes for doves and I should know.

No womanbeast for womanbeast. I want that which I cannot be.

Crete has spat monsters in her myths, but none so great as love.

A bull that fucked young girls, still he was straight.

I’m more a beast than he for wanting girl on girl, the shame.

Straight fact.

Say I had all the world’s wit,

Say Daedalus himself flew here to guide my wrist,

what could I do?

Even he, in all his wisdom, could not carve boy from girl.

I doubt Ianthe will change.

And Iphis will you strengthen your spirit?

And will you gather your mind? And will you get wise?

And will you still this wretched love? You’ve got to get right.

You’ve got to love her like a woman, love her like a wife.

The prayer that makes and fashions love

is the prayer that calls love home to graze.

Bureaucracy will rob you of this (so good, so good) faith.

No bureaucrat will drag your heart’s delight from out your care,

No husband’s caution, no father hunting for a better pair,

and she herself entreats you.

But there is nothing you can do,

say you did everything,

to make you happy in your own skin.


None of my prayers have yet gone up in smoke.

The gods they gave me all they were prepared to give.

To give all that my love wants,

my father wants,

her father too.

But nature, more fierce than all of us,

it’s she alone who spits on me

and stings me with rebuke.



Soon is the morning of our wedding.

Look, here comes the moment I am desperate for.

And presently that Ianthe will be mine.

But she won’t touch me

and we’ll both thirst

even as we drown.


Why are you here Juno? To be my bridesmaid

to another bride?

The god of virgins is confused with me.”

Here ended her soliloquy.


The other (just as gorgeous) chick

Was fired-up

very much like this.

She prayed the god of virgins might

come and go quick.

Now Telethusa was afraid

of what she needed.

And with pretended apathy

Lies of bad omens

And more

had put this moment off too long.


But now she’s wasted all her fictions

The time has come

is rattling the windows

The day is fixed.

Tomorrow is the day.


But! She pulled the ribbons from her daughter’s hair

And from her hair

And stretched upon the altar

Knelt in prayer.


“I beg you Isis

Queen of Egypt and the muse of Yeats,

You live upon the Nile’s seven cuffs,

Send help. And please

Come cure this thing that I’ve fucked-up.


I saw you once

I recognised a goddess.

Your song was like my song

And it was made of bronze.


You taught me what to do,

And lodged yourself

deep in my mind.


I have escaped my husband’s wrath,

This by your will,

My daughter’s glorious.

This by your hand.


Will you look at us?

Have you felt like this?

God! Make it easy

for my daughter to exist.”


She spoke and wept and wept and spoke.


It seemed the goddess made the altars shake

The light came in like horns or crescent moons

In arcs and swoops cut through the temple gates

To spit her sometime song.


Uncertain still, but happy with the sign,

The mother left the temple.


So here comes daughter Iphis,

Heavier as she stepped

Brilliant in her face

Tall like a man

She held her head more sharply.

Wore her hair short and messy

She was more confident

Let’s say

she held her own.


You who so recently were a girl

now pass for boy.


Give thanks to God.

And live your joy in peace.


(They do give thanks to God.

They add a little verse,

A verse that goes like this:)


Iphis

Disarmed the girls as boy

She could not as a girl



The last light of the sun

gets ripe on it.

Goddesses and their handmaidens

have come

to burn-up thighs with it.


And Iphis holds her Ianthe

And Ianthe holds her Iphis


Iphis

Disarmed the girls as boy

She could not as a girl


Iphis

Undid the girls like boy

She could not as a girl


Iphis

Swept away girls like boy

She could not as a girl




She could not as a girl.




iii. recognition



You want him, don’t you?

It’s ok, cos of the way

That your gentleness thrones you.

There’ll be more of this to go through,

But know this:

No twist of hair,

Nor wayward care

Goes un-adored by me.


At nineteen

You smite me,

Gather with kind words

The strands which unite me.


You dazzle

and blind me.


Please;

Know it’s hard to say ‘go get ‘em’

When this tension is heaven,

I’m choosing not to resist this,

So I say in broken English:

Take care.


For me, I choose to embrace this hurt,

It could have been nothing,

And you’d think that I’d learn

But I’m cotton-tongued.


I hide me in your lungs,

And breathe me undone,

I’m cotton-tongued.


Soft in the knotted-months,

Hands upon rotted rungs

And your voice all sudden-blunt.


Those noisy afternoons,

You're glowing like some moon

You look at him.

As if he makes the dawn unfurl,

And perhaps he does, for you,

His cotton-tongued girl…



And I’m sorry

That I never learnt how to sing.

I’m sorry for a million

Fucking stupid things.

I’m sorry that when

I set out to speak,

This little boat sinks

For all and for each.

And love, gender

And God

Are lost from my speech.


And I love you,

I forgive you,

I’d spend every second with you

I’d tell you all the messiness,

My best messiness and strife,

I’d pick up all the scattered shit

I’ve hurled about

And try to set it right.

And I’d say it all out loud,

I’d write it down in fewer words.

I feel all that I say (promise)

It’s not that I’m dumb,

I’m so loving.

But I’m

cotton-tongued.


And I’m spinning from centre,

I took a breath and jumped.

I’m dancing in silence.

I’m dancing ‘till done.

And I’m telling you,

All at once,

I tell you when drunk,

But that’s just how love falls out

When I’m cotton-tongued.


My little love song falls

In widening spirals

And every time this happens

We swear it is final.

My love song wilts

Like the hollow of your hand.

And all I say vanishes

Like stones in the sand.


And I’m like a man

In all my clothing.

I never understand.

And you’re like me

In your mistaking,

No-one mistakes mistake

For hate.

Wait ten more years

And you won’t find

A woman without lungs.

There’s no need for you t’explain;

I know you’re cotton-tongued.


Are you calling me in?


My lover’s lashes flutter, causing tsunamis far abroad,

They dust the mantles of their cheekbones: porcelain pride, pretty and sure,

The curves which slash the naked room, bury fathoms in their stride,

And delicate and nothing less, vespers they usher in the night.


And the spokes that are your fingers, usher the cobwebs out of corners,

Or hold one understanding strong, bound fast to kings and paupers,

I’ve seen them press piano keys, and masturbate and punch,

Odysseus upon his mast, Calypso crashing in his lungs.


Are you calling me in?


In the gutter of this velodrome, the trenches of affection,

Our mouths are black and sweaty, dense-moist and ripe with question,

We bare our teeth like animals, masters of self-abuse.

Isn’t this a Vaudeville? From a certain point of view.


The artifice is obsolete, and the doors locked-fast and closed,

Our lusts they happen to us. Antelopes lifted by the throat,

We dare not choose what we may do, we are not free in what we want,

Carried across the sun-sick grass, and bloodied until bronze.


Are you calling me in?


The breadcrumbs are scattered, they are littered on the moss,

Faun cannot write his signature. Mansoul, it is the cause.

And I am gazing azure-eyed, measuring each kiss,

And this myth, it is a fairy tale. Just not written for kids.


I live my ordinary lives, and then encounter one like you,

The hijras and the circus-freaks, the androgynes in blue.

My lover’s lashes flutter, spitting harsh hushes

through the night.

I fall in time to the brush of your gaze. I weep to call you mine.


Are you calling me in?



The air was full of sex

And we were sharing breaths

Rapture was in our sweat

Bird of my tongue or beast of yours.

Hey! I'm a dyke to watch out for!


It was a roar, it was a murmur and

Electricity is lightning

Pretending permanence.


Electric limbs on this sticky-floored club,

The dark is full of momentary love

All foppery, indulgence shucked

In a luminary war,

Hey! I'm a dyke to watch out for.


I am oscillating, spinning. I'm short on meds,

I am the skinny Creature turning your girlfriend's head,

I made a kingdom of her throat, and kept her fed.

Fucking freakiest thing that you ever saw,

Hey. I am a dyke to watch out for.


It was a roar, it was a murmur and

Electricity is lightning

Pretending permanence.


My definition's blurred, confused, I'm opportune, obscene,

But the word that was a slur to you, is comforter to me,

And is adopted livery, as I contrive to mean,

Like Bechdel, drawing from the well, eye of a paper storm,

Queer-nervous knows; I'm a dyke to watch out for.


It was a roar, it was a murmur and

Electricity is lightning

Pretending permanence.


Moving spirits vex me,

Serious and heavy,

Tear meridians in verse,

Nisha Ramayya to Shelley,

Shelley to centuries before,

Hey! I am a dyke to watch out for.


Our strength is in the shiv'ring cranes,

That lean red-winking on skeletal frames.

Studded astrology of man! At once mighty

And strained.

We live our best lives in an instant —

Miles from the floor,

Hey! We are dykes to watch out for.


<<Remember that man lives only in the present, in this fleeting instant: all the rest of his life is either past and gone, or not yet revealed. This mortal life is a little thing, lived in a little corner of the earth; and little, too, is the longest fame to come ー dependent as it is on a succession of fast-perishing little men who have no knowledge even of their own selves, much less of one long dead and gone.>> Marcus Aurelius, III.x


*

I want to be just like you

I want to feel alright.

We're all just guessing

All of the time:

Son to daughter,

Groom to bride.

Brother to sister and

Shame to Pride.


Guess my gender! I’m the bitch! Guess my Gender!


Strange pathway, looking back.

My history’s a palimpsest.

Experience, a map.

And what I’ve been is edifice,

And what’s to come one more,

And like religion in its eminence,

The certain fall upon their swords.

The curtain asks us all for more,

The lie is lived. The shadow drawn.


Slip, slip. I tell my brother

But I trip on my words.

Transistor. Trans sister

Becomes a current transferred.

The circuit turns

Until the pathways are blurred.

I'm at the Ring Road. Central Line. Same again,

But I've learnt…


Guess my gender! I’m the bitch! Guess my Gender!


Slip, slip. I test my patience,

How do I navigate you?

Slip, slip. I’m sick of slipping.

The half-light breaks through.

We are born

and then rerouted.

Designed

and then confused.

Slip, slip. I go from A

to C,

Elegant to crude.

The best of us

still lose,

The best of us just guess.

I fuck up...

I go foetal in bed.

Guess, love, too much a metaphor.

(Too easily misled.)

Cartography of gender:

A forest in my head.


Like a jealous dog calls his master to heel.

The more masc I dress

the more femme I feel.

I see a quiet noise,

Deep in a quiet void.

She’s a child.

She’s also a choice.


Guess my gender! I’m the bitch! Guess my Gender!



You’re lost in Soho, navigating,

Silhouette tits upon a stage and

The mirth is turned-off, faded.

Flickering pages on the internet,

Street names, addresses. Retrace your steps.

Unravel streets like an unfolding text.


There’s a character arc! This path is a spine.

(My mum used to say I’d get lost online).

I was seven years old. I was confused. Crying…

I’m London and nuclear, dime from divine

From a corpus that’s awkward,

That’s fucked-up, that’s fine.

But the ease is in the habit,

And the default is lie.

And repetition brooks augury,

Indefinite signs:

Ring Road. West Ruislip. A11. I’m trying....


Rupert Street. Vauxhall Street. Chapelfield North. Little Bethel Street. Bethel Street. St. Peters Street. Gaol Hill. Exchange Street. London Street. Bank Plain. Bank Street. Upper King Street. Prince of Wales Road. Thorpe Road. Train station.




So:

When the goblin freak contracts,

To place the wall against her back.

When every platitude’s a tax,

She’s gone like drainwater through cracks,

The doubt will come around in stabs

That drive her, pent-up and annoyed, say:

‘That’s my boy.’


And when she’s praised amongst her kin

And kindred, wintered by the wind,

Zephyra takes it on her chin,

Wins anyway and lifts the cross,

Her eminence is king.

Her feminine is other wind,

Strikes harps and strings and sings.

And when she’s trembling, impermanent,

And glorious in joy, say:

‘That’s my boy.’


And when she’s sick at heart,

And every poem’s missed the mark,

And every minim, every sharp

Is turned to minotaurs and sharks

Falling graceless, young, unclean,

falling like wishes from the stars

To render her destroyed, say:

‘That’s my boy.’


Or when she’s on a superdrive,

The clockwork chick that comes to life.

Power ballads. Touch the Sky.

The central line

With her thunder-thighs,

A Jezebel when the end is nigh.

Jericho. Babel. Culloden. Troy.

Say:

‘That’s my boy.’



Or when she’s hybrid? Made of both?

Nosferatu in a Rambo pose,

The Queen Supreme, tired and gross,

An intellect with a runny nose

Who tries her best, and loves you most,

Know life

Can take

A lifetime to enjoy.

Say:

‘That’s my boy.’


That’s...


Pinocchio dying in his father's arms,

Is wood rotting on a storm-swept path.

I am Bishonen standing in the bathroom mirror,

Holding something close. Holding something dark.


I had a vision:

I crawled from a ditch and

Told you all my histories

I hoped for recognition.


Dysphoria

What a force we are

We were where you are

We’ve been where you are.


Bishonen: barely human,

And half-consumed by movement

You know I'm often misconstrued and

Ambiguity is prudent.


Your mercy's what I choose,

Your truth is often crude,

And standing here with you

I'm beautifully confused.


Ingenue storming the storm itself

Iphis side-by-side. I'm going through hell.

Handmaidens, cosmic, fleshed me out well

Were the Romans this transparent when Byzantium fell?


I am all body! I am all flesh!

But knee-deep in regret

Throat-deep in debt

I give all to you now, crumble instead.


Tiresias, he complicates

You know it feels so good to say

You know it gets so hard to play,

Intensifies. Then fades.


Skeletal. You're delicate but brave,

I hunt a kind of kindness

Upon your kindred face.

Will you hold me? Will you stay?


Flowers in the hand

Of Huā Mulan.

I recognised something:

The woman as man.


You are a marāla

And I, recumbent in you,

Rest half in light and half in truth,

In the pomegranate stains, we lucky two.


A monophonic Marshall Plan

I run my tongue across your teeth

And divide, divide, cut underhand

Collapse, exhausted, into sleep.

Because I'm still me;

Collapse into me.

Because I'm still me;

Collapse into me.


We were where you are

We’ve been where you are.

We were where you are

We’ve been where you are.

We’ve been where you are.

















(It was then that I began my great love affair with myself.)




Royalties


Thanks to my family: Paul Matthews, Lindsey Brown, Flora Brown, Callum Brown, Jeanne Kretzschmar, Saoirse Rowan, and Lachlan Avalon. Thanks to everyone in my orbit for the grace, patience and love that surrounds and continually supports me, particularly Sonny Mitchell, Rose Ramsden and Maddi Hastings for helping me draft. Thankyou to Tom ‘El Tommo’ Jenkins for providing the bass tab on track ten and Abi Whelan for her vocals on track twelve. Thanks also to you for being cool about me not putting your name in this list of thanks. I swear it’s because I didn’t want to embarrass you, not because I forgot.


Trans sister / Transistor is how my brother reacted to the news of me being trans. Well actually he sent a series of pictures of transistors and left it to me to guess, but the pun is his and all credit is due to him. “Electricity is lightning / Pretending to be permanent” is the intellectual property of the poet Sherman Alexie, taken from his poem ‘Distances’. The chorus of ‘Beasts of Contract’ is a butchering of “we should be careful / Of each other, we should be kind / While there is still time.” from Philip Larkin’s ‘The Mower’. Dykes to Watch Out For is the title of a collection of comic strips by acclaimed graphic novelist Alison Bechdel. The Marcus Aurelius quotation is taken from his book of Meditations, specifically Maxwell Staniforth’s translation, Book 10 #3. The Iphis story is predominantly my own translation, but I leant heavily on Robert Kline’s translation. The line “a little silver slipper of a moon” is lifted from the Tennessee Williams play The Glass Menagerie. Sixto Rodriguez penned the line “there’s someone here who’s almost a virgin, I’ve been told” in his ‘A Most Disgusting Song’. Ali Smith’s Girl Meets Boy makes the Iphis story exciting and interesting and sexy, and is a fantastic case study in imaginative translation. Similarly, Kate Tempest’s long poem ‘Tiresias’ (in addition to everything else she’s written) prompted much of my thinking on gender, as well as much of the theme and style of Recognition. ‘Recognition’ is also the third of Aristotle’s tenets of tragedy, after ‘reversal’ and ‘unravelling’. Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, they were James Baldwin’s words (found in the epigraph to Tessa McWatt’s Shame on Me) that inspired the whole idea of ‘recognition’ that threads this poem. He says:


You think your pain and your heartbreak are unprecedented in the history of the world, but then you read. It was books that taught me that the things that tormented me most were the very things that connected me with all the people who were alive, who had ever been alive.



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Thankyou for recognising me.


ANNIE BROWN