Understanding The Blueprints

I got very excited when I read Nicole McCarthy’s poem featured in The Shallow Ends yesterday. Aside from it being a visual poem, it’s also bold and allows re-approach and reconsideration, it’s called [i miscarried a watermelon] and here it is:


We can compare the rigid structure of the building design, blueprint, with the rigidity of the lines an their structure. Both are highly intentional, one for the division of someones (or more than one person’s) into the appropriate chunks which make up the functions of our lives — and the other is an autobiographical version of the same. This is the compartmentalisation of life displayed in both ways, the floorplan doesn’t give us much to think about the point of the bedrooms or any other function of the home — and how they are connected by the flesh that lives in them. Equally, that structurally taut repetition and structure of the lines themselves also suggests a similar kind of separated experience between each line. The fact that letters were miscarried seem unrelated to the more obvious and emotionally powerful meaning of the “i miscarried” itself.

But like the reality of the house, not the design, there is the flow between lines and rooms. There is an exchange here creating heat, as well as a remnant of that heat being left behind. With a poem like this, it’s hard not to think back to our recent exploration of Omar Sakr’s These Wild Houses. There, Omar made the body a house, a location, and here Nicole does something similar, but with a different sense of the past. Here, the house-body is a personal past, and not necessarily inter-generational in the same way. Instead, the house is haunted by the realities of a life lived — this especially becomes apparent when paired with some of her work from Public Pool.

And this kind of memory-in-place is a way of showing us how we keep our memories attached to spaces — even if they’re conceptually ourselves, but that you can only rely on a ghost of the reality being stored there. This unreliable memory that exists as a kind of argument against the place it’s stored reflects the way he can hold on to only so much.

Speaking to Nicole over Twitter I learnt that this poem in particular is part of a longer story about a woman who visits a masseuse, who worked out each knot of trauma and abuse. I think we can see in all of the visual works how this might interconnect the various statements presented, and how their localisation and the body-as-home concept is fully explored.

Nicole McCarthy has just finished her MFA from an experimental interdisciplinary program through the University of Washington. The collection is not out yet, and is currently sitting with publishers — if you’re one of them I would like you to hurry up and publish it, so I can see the rest. You should follow Nicole on Twitter over here.




The White Review is running a Kickstarter campaign to publish arts criticism. Between the White Review, and it’s owners Fitzcarraldo Editions, there’s been few better places for new stuff in print. Think about sending them a couple of quid to try this out.


Today’s song is something new from WeAreCastor:



Thanks for reading Etch To Their Own. There was a lot more to say, but I didn’t manage to say it before something else got in the way. As always, Etch To Their Own was written by @CJEggett and proofread by no one. If you would like to get in touch you can reply to this email, you can tweet me, you can send me a print out of this where you mark your own squiggly red lines under my typos in your own blood. Whatever works best for you. Where do you see yourself in 20 years? I love you all (again), but I might never get to say it to your face. I sell stale copies of this over here.

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