10 December 2013
Tuesday Poem: 'Alice Spider Visits her Nanna' by Janis Freegard
Alice Spider goes to South Shields to visit her Nanna. Nanna doesn't like the Blairs. Every time Cherie comes on the television, Nanna says, that skinny little bitch. Tony fairs no better. He's a crook. Look at him, grinning like a Cheshire cat. He's bloody evil. Nanna doesn't support a united European currency.
People starving in Africa? They should sterilise them. Asylum seekers? Taking jobs from our men. Striking miners? I didn't give them a penny. They never gave the pensioners any coal. Northern Ireland. Your Granddad always used to say, there'll never be peace in Ireland. They should pull the soldiers out and then drop an atom bomb on them.
As long as it only killed the right ones.
Nanna's a Sun reader. She can tell you about every affair that every politician, footballer and television personality has ever had, not to mention their operations. She wasn't sorry when Diana died. EE, she was a slut. Them poor bairns.
(Alice knows that even if she were an Irish miner slut in Africa, Nanna would still get up early to cook bacon and eggs for her breakfast, despite Alice's protests. It's a different kind of love you have for your grandchildren, says Nanna.)
I must have first met Alice Spider in AUP New Poets 3. She's quite charming character, fun to hang out with, but perhaps a little unpredictable. I came across her again in JAAM 28, and then this year she got her own book: The Continuing Adventures of Alice Spider (I kind of always knew she would). The book was published by Anomalous Press in the US, and was part of a fun Kickstarter campaign (which is how I got my copy), but you can also get it from Matchbox Studios in Wellington or Unity Books in Wellington.
I chose this poem simply because it appeals to me, but I'm having a bit of trouble articulating why. I find it quite funny, in a wry way, though bigotry shouldn't be funny. I guess it's the split, the tension, between the good person you know and love, and the terrible things they say and think.
Janis Freegard's debut poetry collection, Kingdom Animalia: the Escapades of Linnaeus, was published in 2011 by Auckland University Press. She also writes fiction and is a past winner of the BNZ Katherine Mansfield Award. She lives in Wellington with an historian and a cat. She has been writing poems about Alice Spider since she was 18. I expect to see Alice around some more, having new adventures, some time in the future.
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