Monday, 15 October 2018

Some gothic inspiration...


There are just four weeks left in our call for gothic poems, for an anthology edited by Nisha Bhakoo and Charlotte Geater. It turns out that Sophie Rowson, who's doing work experience with us at the moment, is a big fan of all things gothic, so we asked her to write a blog to give you some inspiration for poems in the run-up to the deadline. You can also read Sophie's interview with the editors here.

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Gothic places. Gothic stories. Gothic art. Gothic architecture. Gothic literature. Gothic music. Gothic films. Gothic horror. Gothic comics. Gothic people. Gothic past, present, future...

The Gothic.

Whichever way you look at it, gothic starts with a darkness. It explores emotions like fear and desire but in a range of complicated, unnerving and even sickening ways.

The Gothic was once a way to talk about the taboo by hiding behind symbolism. We continue to draw from the classics and renew them. Inverting, subverting and reimagining them. The Gothic genre continues to thrive and is watered by the timeless fears of humanity.

Take the innocent young girl. Let her feel uncomfortable desires. The treasuring of a horrible secret, a sickening transgression or a pulsing revenge that pushes her to the brink of her sanity... and the gothic seeps out of her. Especially if in the process of her creation you have questioned not only yourself, but everyone around you.
“There is something at work in my soul which I do not understand.” ― Mary Shelley, Frankenstein 
Highlighting the strangeness and inexplicability of life is part of the gothic. It takes a piece of reality and smudges colours of the imagination into it. This creates the hypnotically irresistible shade of the genre of the night.

The real and the make-believe swirl together to create meaning in exciting and horrific ways. We can explore the soul and the flesh, the soul leaving the flesh, the flesh without the soul...
“We seem to be drifting into unknown places and unknown ways; into a whole world of dark and dreadful things.” ― Bram Stoker, Dracula
Death. The most mysterious and uncharted of places. And yet, through the gothic genre, we can visit its boundaries often.

Ghostly figures, re-animated corpses and the familiar cursed creature, the vampire. He cannot starve to death and yet he thirsts for your fresh blood. He does not live, but he can be destroyed with a stake to the heart. If he really does lurk in the shadows, he might be impossibly fast and sickly pale. He might also have the power to hypnotise you.

The fear of the unknown and the unimaginable is both there and not there with the vampire. We know that by the vampire’s bite we can end up either dead or undead. We could either leave this world a human, or stay in it. As something entirely different.

That’s what we love about gothic. We love how it plays with the unimaginable. We want to be invincible, powerful, more than simply human. We want death to fear us instead of the other way around. And we want possibilities that make us unique and extraordinary. That’s why gothic characters are so compelling. We want to know their stories, what it’s like to be them. We want to watch how they deal with the darkness...

And for a short while, death is our amusement. For a short while it is a limit that may or may not exist.

And that makes it bloody delicious.

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The call for submissions runs until 9th November 2018. Read the submissions guidelines here.

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