Carol Ann Duffy- The Darling Letters
Some keep them in shoeboxes away from the light, sore memories blinking out as the lid lifts, their own recklessness written all over them. My own... Private jokes, no longer comprehended, pull their punchlines, fall flat in the gaps between the endearments. What are you wearing?
Don't ever change. They start with Darling; end in recriminations, absence, sense of loss. Even now, the fist's bud flowers into trembling, the fingers trace each line and see the future then. Always... Nobody burns them, the Darling letters, stiff in their cardboard coffins. Babykins... We all had strange names which make us blush, as though we'd murdered someone under an alias, long ago. I'll die without you. Die. Once in a while, alone, we take them out to read again, the heart thudding like a spade on buried bones.
I love poetry but had previously never read Carol Ann Duffy, suprisingly. The end line "the heart thudding like a spade on buried bones" is brilliant, it really reminded me of Billy Collins' work.
(more on Collins to come).
Anyway, this poem is really relevant to looking at why we keep epherma. Also, I was transcribing my interview with Johnny Flynn today and in it we were discussing how different it is to conduct a relationship through letters.
I find that when you’re really really alone you go through a kind of relationship with yourself, all one sided. And it goes through much quicker and much more intensely, and then you suddenly find something out about yourself.
JF: Those cycles of realisation.
It’s kind of like if you don’t see someone very often, and you write letters instead, everything becomes much more intense, because you are your thoughts’ only company.
Or writing songs…in a vague attempt to round this in and link it.
JF: Definitely. Any kind of artistic persuit.
Do you write songs to yourself?
JF: Yeah, it’s therapy.
M:It’s quite nice, I hadn’t really thought about it in that term- you as the audience for your own song. It’s quite a nice thought.
JF: It’s quite hard the first time that you know your song is going to be heard by people. There’s a lot of ‘oh shit, I have to get rid of that idea’.
M:I remember practising with you for the first time, you had an incredible amount of like…
M:About it being public.
I liked your lyric about only writing to someone what you can whisper in their ear. I guess it could be the same in a song, if you can’t say it to the person that you’re thinking about, then…unless you’re singing the song to them.
JF: That’s to do with the protected image that people have of themselves, without necessarily actually being in a relationship, or what’s real of here and how, and people lose themselves in projected fantasies that can’t actually have any kind of fruition in the moment. And people lose each other and themselves in that process of hoping too much- not even hoping too much, because some hope’s really good, but…
I think you definitely get that in letter writing.
JF:I had a relationship with a girl, and it was all about that, about a pedestal that she, or probably we, put ourselves on, and then it all just fell down because it wasn’t real.
This idea of changing perspectives through the subjectivity reached by having a physical representation of a moment or feeling is very interesting indeed.
In the Johnny Flynn song that prompted my thoughts behind that question whilst doing my research for the interview, he sings "the letters that you left behind, no longer shall I read. The blood's between the pages, and I can't stand to see you bleed". Not often do we find an example of strongly leaving behind epherma?
And there's a nice video of the song.
Also, I just found this
I haven't read it yet because I have to leave to go to a staff meeting at work now, but it's an article titled "Ephemera Collecting - A Growing Field, Hard to Define
by John C. Dann"
Looks interesting. Will read it later and see how it is.