Please Don’t Bleed On My Antfarm: An interview with Zoë Bleu
Art — 05.11.19
Words & Photography: Madeleine Morlet
Styling: Zoë Bleu
Please Don’t Bleed On My Antfarm is a collection of poems by Zoë Bleu. They tell a story of shame, escapism, love, pain, trauma, and sexuality. Painting a picture of innocence as it has been lost, and of survival – these poems are raw, they are sensual, and they are difficult. As a mother reading them, I want to hold and cradle a younger Bleu in my arms. As a woman reading them, I know this is an unnecessary maternal instinct, she can hold herself in her own two arms. Her talent blazes like a forest fire through each page. She reminds us that what is broken is beautiful, and through this shared intimacy we are lead towards stronger versions of ourselves.
A lot of these poems were written when you were younger, selected from thousands of works that will never be published. Are you still writing poetry now?
I wrote a lot of these poems when wars were going on within me. I left parts of myself with certain people, and now that I feel I have reclaimed those pieces, I am able to pick through these writings of mine and share them. I have spent a lot of time feeling really empty and reflecting on feeling really full. When you are full, it’s very hard to imagine feeling empty. I haven’t really tried to embrace, or expand into words, how good it feels to feel good because there’s nothing romantic to me about [happiness] for some reason. It’s just gluttonous, [I can’t write poetry because] I’m like a happy pig rolling around in the mud right now.
The book feels complete, does it need more?
No, it doesn’t. This book is a lot of things. It’s an apology letter, it’s a love letter, and it’s a ‘fuck you’ for some. It’s closing the door on a really big chapter of my life.
Do you feel that through making the book you are sending those letters, even if indirectly?
As a writer, whose work have you admired and how has this fed into your approach?
Anais Nin, Sylvia Plath, and Ann Sexton inspired me to start writing so openly about my sexuality and my pain. Their work resonates with me so much. Anais Nin, Sylvia Plath, Ann Sexton…
I feel as though these writers so rawly explored their pain but they never had the opportunity for recovery. There is an absence in the literary canon for women, such as these, to develop and create new experiences born from…
Their willingness to change!
Exactly, evidence that they did not live in pain forever.
These authors found peace with endings, they settled themselves within their darkness. I lived in that darkness for many years and I have chosen to shed light on the trauma and heartbreak, and all those things we romanticise in poetry, but to also show my willingness to live.
In their stories, we never see the possibility of another turn in the narrative. Where are the examples of artists who process their trauma and in doing so discover whatever it is that comes next – maybe beauty, love, happiness? I guess what I’m saying is that it is refreshing to read your original and provocative poetry whilst simultaneously being given a window into your personal evolution.
Self-help wasn’t a thing [then].
Can you talk to me about innocence and experience, and how these themes present themselves in this body of work?
I feel like I lost my innocence at such a young age and throughout my adulthood, I’ve been struggling to find it again. I know that I am very childlike in a lot of ways, I am in a very intimate way, and I feel that correlates to my childhood sexual abuse. This book reflects on a lot of that. I felt really abandoned as a child, and [because of this] I was always searching for more love. I am through and through a hopeful romantic. I am also a very nostalgic person, and I think this makes it really hard for me to let go of the fact that I lost my innocence at such a young age. Within the book, I am dancing around these different facets of myself. It’s very sexual and provocative in adult ways, but there’s also a profound childlikeness to it. I’m in awe of people, in the way that children are in awe of…
Can we talk about this idea of trauma as a gift that drives your creative work and how your relationship to healing affects your relationship with creating?
A big part of healing is forgiving, and although I wouldn’t wish what has happened to me upon anyone, I also wouldn’t trade my experiences. I’m able to dig into this well within myself, and have found that there is water beneath the well, and I can now bring it up to the surface. I’m strong enough to climb the rope and pull the bucket up with me. There are a lot of people that feel so much shame around their pain, and I felt that way for so long but now I realise that it’s a gift and the words of [other artists] writing about these sorts of things have inspired me to come to this place where I can talk about them. I want to help other people who are in pain to climb up their ropes and reflect [on their experience], and make something beautiful from their trauma.
Bleu’s wisdom matches the depth of her experience, she demonstrates how sometimes it is possible to metamorphose from an escape artist into a beacon of hope.
This interview can be found in our printed Infinite Decay (Paradise Lost) Issue.