'Do you want to talk about it?' by Wolfgar is Write Out Loud Poem of the Week

entry picture

The new Write Out Loud Poem of the Week is ‘Do you want to talk about it?’ by Wolfgar, a poem about PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) that appeared on Write Out Loud during Mental Health Awareness Week. The poems talks of “strobe-flash memories” and “grotesque visions” and “a frozen fear that keeps me here in hell”. Wolfgar is the first person to have won Poem of the Week for a second time since it began in April 2016. We asked him to talk about his poem a little more:

 

This poem sparked quite a reaction on Write Out Loud this week, including a poem in response. Do you want to say anything more about your poem's background?

I can't help but see the irony in me responding to that question, considering the title and the nature of the piece. The truth is that it has only been by talking about my PTSD that I have ultimately rid myself of its intrusive visitations, that and some excellent people (friends and professionals) who supported me through difficult days. I think for many sufferers of mental health conditions it isn't that they don't want to talk but that they have difficulty expressing how they feel, that and a fear of the consequences. I hope that in light of a more open-minded approach to mental health these days, the fear of talking may in some way have diminished. Regarding the poem’s background, the text to me represents a picture board of memories across an extended period of time. I wouldn't want to be any more specific than that.  

 

Why do you think it struck such a chord with some? Was it just a coincidence that you posted it during Mental Health Awareness Week?

I was conscious of it being mental health awareness week but hadn't purposely set about writing the poem for that reason. I think it may have struck a chord partly due to the fact that although there are some universal symptoms of suffering, the individual experiences of living with mental health issues are often extremely varied. Maybe people wanted to address and express that in their own way. I feel this was highlighted by Laura’s response in her own poem. I was so pleased that she posted what she did and am very grateful to her for doing so.

 

You have alluded before in comments and conversations on Write Out Loud to your experiences in trouble spots around the world. Do you want to, or are you able to say anything more about them?

I can say that during my military service I had no choice about where or when I served; at the time I had no particular problem with that. I was a young man seeking adventure and wasn't particularly thinking of my future. Having completed my service I realised that although I had accumulated a wealth of experiences and learned much about others, and myself I had a very narrow set of transferable skills. On the very day I left the Army I flew to Kabul to work for an organisation which was staffed almost completely by my former colleagues. Occasionally I wish I had changed direction; it is often easier to stick with what you know, but it’s not always the best thing to do. If I was to advise my younger self now, I might suggest seeking adventure without being a tool in the armoury of others. That said I probably wouldn't listen to myself.

 

How you feel about your own poetry? Do you think its style has changed in any way since you first started blogging on this site?

I’m not too sure about how my style has changed - I suspect others would be better placed to comment. I get frustrated by being drawn back to familiar subjects. When that does happen I try to write about it differently or dismiss it altogether. People are inevitably going to write about what they know. I do attempt to vary my writing style and the things I write about, I’m not really sure how successful I am at doing that. I think readers have the upper hand - writers can’t choose their readers, it’s very much the other way around.

How do I feel about my poetry? Honestly, sometimes I feel it’s indulgent, selfish tripe, sometimes I think I’m worthy of washing Dylan Thomas’s socks, but most of the time it makes me feel that I’m attempting to engage with what it is to be human.

 

 

 

DO YOU WANT TO TALK ABOUT IT? 

by Wolfgar

 

 

Trauma like a black hole

into which everything is drawn,

where merely to survive you must believe

it gets dark before the dawn.

 

And in strobe-flash memories

grotesque visions you will see,

and it gets dark before the dawn

don’t trust yourself, hear me.

 

Devils have your interests

and a special place for you,

a paradise of loathing

a heaven pure and true

 

where you can thrash your broken body

and torture your own mind,

seeking corners of the forgotten

where there’s fuck all left to find.

 

Where the blows and beatings merge

into frequencies of sound,

that the human ear won’t register

as the fists and head-butts pound.

 

So when you ask and I don't hear

I hear you all too well,

but I’m silenced by a frozen fear

that keeps me here in hell.  

 

 

 

 

 

◄ Kathy D'Arcy and Alisha Kaplan win Hippocrates prizes for poetry and medicine

Write Out Loud Woking celebrates first anniversary at the New Inn tonight ►

More from Poem of the week

Comments

Profile image

John Marks

Fri 19th May 2017 22:01

So when you ask and I don't hear

I hear you all too well

John

Profile image

Wolfgar Miere

Fri 19th May 2017 15:08

Thanks Steve,

I agree, when a poem motivates others to respond with their own interpretation of similar events it makes it even more meaningful. More than that is encourages discussion, which has been really positive in this case I think.

Thanks again,

David.

Profile image

steve pottinger

Thu 18th May 2017 09:23

I'm always a fan of poems which take difficult subjects and address them with candour and skill. In addition, what I particularly liked about this poem when it was first posted was that it inspired other poets in turn. Surely the best tribute to the power of poetry, and of good writing. Congratulations, David, on a second nomination for POTW. 😃

Profile image

Wolfgar Miere

Tue 16th May 2017 07:41

Thanks Colin, Laura, Mark, Martin and Robert,

I have been very fortunate in receiving support from so many people. It cannot be understated just how much positive comments and constructive advice influence our confidence in writing, especially when on occasions we decide to take risks in what we write about.

If as some have mentioned my writing has developed positively, it is in large part due to what I have learned since coming to this site.

I have so much to be grateful for, thank you.

David.

Profile image

Robert Mann

Mon 15th May 2017 22:38

David - well deserved. Enough said.
Rob

Martin Elder

Mon 15th May 2017 20:07

David
I am not sure what I can add to what has already been said, like Colin I have come late to the party. But this is as has been said typical of your forthright honesty which I think we all heartily agree is your hallmark and may it long continue. So pleased you have been chosen again as POTW.
Many congratulations my friend

Martin

Profile image

M.C. Newberry

Mon 15th May 2017 18:14

A blunt and powerful assessment of a hidden assailant.
They bravely serve whose mind and nerve
are insidiously shattered,
They bravely serve and well deserve
True friends when true friends mattered.

Profile image

Laura Taylor

Mon 15th May 2017 09:44

Let me add my congratulations also David - well done not only on winning POTW but winning it a second time with such a great piece. I loved the interview too, and it's heart-warming to see such genuine support from your poetry family 😃 This is why I've never left the place - nothing else comes near.

Profile image

Colin Hill

Mon 15th May 2017 08:23

Morning David,

I'm late to the party but no less pleased that you have been applauded in such a way. The comments here prove this. As you alluded to, WoL allows us a unique forum in which to share, discuss and support each other and your own experiences add a truly valid perspective to this ongoing collective journey. Long may it continue.

All the best mate.
Col.

Profile image

Wolfgar Miere

Mon 15th May 2017 08:12

Thanks Kev, Paul, SS and Graham.

Such kind comments, very grateful to you all, also for your support throughout the time I have been posting on WOL.

David.

Profile image

Graham Sherwood

Sun 14th May 2017 23:04

Congratulations David!

Profile image

suki spangles

Sun 14th May 2017 22:06

Hi David,

Although I left feedback when you first shared this poem, I would just like to wish you congratulations on winning this week's Poem of the Week. Well done to the judges too for choosing this.

The interview is also enlightening - providing the back-story to many of your poems, and the "inspiration" (if that is the right expression here) for them.

Also, if you believe your poetry is indulgent, selfish tripe, God help the rest of us! I better take up macramé - or even worse, golf!

Your recordings are also greatly appreciated; you really add something special to the WoL family.

Nice one!

SS

Profile image

Paul Waring

Sun 14th May 2017 21:26

David, I'm so pleased for you, a richly deserved accolade. You are brave enough to write about issues many of us might shy away from. And, more importantly, you write openly, honestly and with integrity. I have got to know you better in recent months and this is perhaps an opportune moment to say thank you for being such a thoughtful and supportive friend.

Mighty big congratulations David, enjoy this week!

Paul

Profile image

kJ Walker

Sun 14th May 2017 19:13

Congratulations on being the first to be re-selected for POTW, no one deserves the accolade more than you.
I have read your Q&A's and can only imagine what you have been through. I have served in the army myself, but only in peacetime. it's not the same, and when I hear of what others had to suffer, I almost feel like a fraud calling myself an ex-serviceman.
"Do you want to talk about it?" is a gritty and honest piece of writing, which could only have been done by someone who has genuinely gone through it.
The whole nation owes a great debt or gratitude to the likes of you, and I hope you realise how much you are appreciated.

Kevin

Profile image

Wolfgar Miere

Sun 14th May 2017 18:38

Thanks so much to those of you who have commented here, and to those who commented when I originally posted the poem.

Thanks to all those at WoL who maintain and manage the site, enabling us all to share and support each other, and also to discuss our differences.

I am doubly grateful to those at WoL who have in the past been patient with me, you know who you are, thank you.

I was genuinely surprised and humbled to receive POTW for a second time, especially considering the quality of so many of the contributions.

I really don't know what else I can say, maybe, should anyone ever want a friendly chat when they are at a low ebb and don't know where to turn, I'm never far from my laptop.

Love to all, and thanks again.

David.

Profile image

elPintor

Sun 14th May 2017 16:37

It doesn't surprise me one bit that your work was first to be selected a second time around. You have a great knack for construction and a masterly gift for communicating deep and often difficult human emotions. Well-deserved praise, David.

Rachel

btw, the interview is pretty great, too..washing Thomas' socks--too funny.

Profile image

raypool

Sun 14th May 2017 16:18

If there was a poem of the year this should be it and a national holiday declared, although given the experiences that led to the poem I don't think that would be sanctioned.
Even in a dark corner, the sun has come out in the recognition of your contributions , being for many a bedrock of honesty and truth, often unpalatable to closed minds.

Your pal, Ray.

Profile image

Stu Buck

Sun 14th May 2017 15:24

richly deserved david. i never tire of your honesty, raw language and cathartic pieces. brilliant.

Profile image

Cynthia Buell Thomas

Sun 14th May 2017 14:25

David, I'm not on-line all that often. Sorry I missed this first time round. It is frank stuff, as we've come to expect from you. It has been a 'journey' with you from the days when you first joined the site. From stranger to 'friend' if I may be so bold. I'm glad we are both still supportive of WOL. You, personally, have many supporters on this site. Keep on writing.

Profile image

Karen Ankers

Sun 14th May 2017 11:46

So glad this is Poem of the Week. Stark and compelling.

If you wish to post a comment you must login.

This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse, you are agreeing to our use of cookies.

Find out more Hide this message