Bethany Mary on “Away Status” by Shy Watson

AwayStatusCover2_1024x1024“Away Status” by Shy Watson is a poetry collection that will lead you away from your comfort zone and straight into something so alarmingly honest, you will want to both close the book and keep turning pages.

It is hard and easy to read the words of someone who tells the dark secrets that no one else will, someone who treats them like they shouldn’t be secrets at all, because what is so weird and wrong about wanting things?

Watson writes, “i want to fuck / in the grand canyon / while I’m dying,” and at the end of it all, it seems reasonable. Why not? Go for it. This book is inspiration to be confident in yourself, a rejection of the idea that certain desires are scandalous or better left unsaid.

Here, everything is said.

Watson bluntly covers topics outside of the norm, particularly resonant for people who identify as female – intentionally bleeding on sheets, not shaving, ignoring texts and songs meant for you, waking up already bored, and considering making porn. Every poem resonates with dry wit and an openly stated lack of interest in being appropriate.

Watson bluntly covers topics outside of the norm, particularly resonant for people who identify as female – intentionally bleeding on sheets, not shaving, ignoring texts and songs meant for you, waking up already bored, and considering making porn.

Some poems have moments of softness sprinkled sparingly between hard edges. “I spent $800 at Sephora in 2 months because my skin looked bad and I wanted you to think I was pretty,” Watson confesses, dripping with vulnerability and perhaps regretful accusation.

The exposure of these insecurities makes the poems more real and relatable, providing a reprieve from or justification of some of the more daring and explicit images. These poems prove that there is something to relate to in everyone, no matter how different they are. There is always a spark of connection and a spark of strength.

13438989_10209438407894582_2284076221145257179_nWhen you don’t know someone well enough to speak for them, you can still talk about them because you still have your impressions of them. You just may not be describing them as they are. In fact, interactions with strangers can seem more significant sometimes than those with best friends.

She raises the sentimental question of whether or not love is a reason to change for someone, whether or not it is worth it if it doesn’t work out.

Watson warns about the danger and beauty of assumptions and rocky attachments to people you only half understand. She writes, “do you still see the girl / whose name is a season / i can’t compete with that / mine is merely an adjective / that reminds you / of why you hate me.” Her personal symbolism conveys the same intensity as her usual blunt phrasing. She describes people who seem to never change, people who always do, and people who are too jealous or afraid to try new things.

She raises the sentimental question of whether or not love is a reason to change for someone, whether or not it is worth it if it doesn’t work out.

Watson experiments admirably with form – one long handwritten poem is hard to read but extra sincere. Many of the other poems are so short, this one serves as a reminder that poems do take time to write, because it takes time to experience the emotions fully. The repetition of phrases with lack of punctuation makes this handwritten poem read like a raw note, a true letter from a former love.

For more love, keep up with Watson on Twitter @sadsects and on Tumblr at http://shywatson.tumblr.com. In addition to her interesting writing life, she also sells some pretty rad paintings at https://www.society6.com/lazywednesday in the form of prints, mugs, clothes, and phone cases.

(Bottlecap Press, Poetry, Paperback, 2015)

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BETHANY MARY is a meditative tea snob studying gerontology in Minnesota. She was once the poetry editor of Green Blotter Literary Magazine and now reads submissions for Spark: A Creative Anthology and Zetetic: A Record of Unusual Inquiry. As an asexual advocate for a sexual assault center and blogger for Resources for Ace Survivors, she focuses on boundaries and mental health in her own writing. Some of her work is out in the world, and she rants on Twitter @bethanylmary.

 

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Vagabond City Literary Journal

Founded in 2013, we are a literary journal dedicated to publishing outsider literature. We publish art, poetry, and creative nonfiction from marginalized creators.

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