those overuse blues

I’ve been in pain the last few weeks after pulling a muscle before a poetry reading. It didn’t seem like a big deal, but driving seems to have made it worse, and it eventually became full-blown overuse pain, which I haven’t had to deal with for the last near-twenty years?!

Anti-inflammatory pain meds help (admittedly I’m pretty stubborn about taking them because I’m used to actually having a pain threshold), but it’s made eating, sleeping and working difficult. Hot showers haven’t helped much and I’ve spent the entire weekend wincing and feverishly sleeping in an old blue nightshift that used to belong to my mother.

I hate my body a lot less than when overuse (in the right side of my body, not left like now) was an issue, and having left my zine-drink review post till so late in the week again feels like cheating. I’ve made myself a strong, bitter hot chocolate sweetened with maple syrup and can’t really blog about the beer I got to drink over the week, because it’s all review beer for next month’s Froth, glee!

Admittedly, I have been doing a lot more things than usual…as ‘overuse’ implies, it tends to flare up when some part of the body is used too much – the lesser version of repetitive strain injury. It’s been a mindfuck listening to my left shoulder trot out an opera libretto-length version of ‘The Ballad of the Crunchy Shoulder’!

Anyway, I’m reading ‘A Sharp Knife x FOUND’ from 2015, which has ‘short, sharp poetry by women’. There’ll be a bunch of folks to tag when I post the photograph on Instagram, and I love how unapologetically hot pink the cover is. It’s put together by Alice Belle.


This zine is volume 6, and subtitled ‘ Positive Protest’. There’s a myriad of ways women or female-identifying voices can protest that doesn’t involve violence, and this zine offers so many paths into those possibilities…the selection does have common threads – blood, heart, stone and digging into ground, skies, what the body is made of, emancipation or extrication from stifling sources. I honestly couldn’t pick a favourite poem!

I did think ‘Terra Nullius’ by Polly Glamorous was especially noteworthy because it talks about who was on this land, Australia, before white colonisation, and it’s short and sharp, just like the zine brief states. This zine was part of an event that occurred in Melbourne called ‘Found Festival’ at Testing Grounds, where many of us also read work by other female-identifying writers – I still fondly remember audience reactions to my reading out Anne Sexton’s ‘The Ballad of the Lonely Masturbator’!

It’s also interesting to look back at how terrified I was then of occupying creative space…I still didn’t feel like I deserved to be there, even though the people that asked me to take part were so supportive and encouraging. Most of the year after did start to fix a lot of that; I’d never really realised how much my mood disorder contributed to my outlook and self-worth.

Anyway, contents, in order of appearance:

‘untitled’ by Alice Belle; ‘Together’ by Laura Bibby-Bell; ‘Terra Nullius’ by Polly Glamorous; ‘The Caddisfly’ by Ad Hoc; ‘Starry’ by Tilly Houghton (poetry ed of Concrete Queers fame, yea!; ‘Red’ by me (shh!); ‘Letting Go’ by Bianca Martin; and ‘Alien Girl’ by Tegan Webb.

I kind of like the idea that all these folks have been slowly and steadily creating lots of things, and since this zine volume, have been really lucky to get to learn more about their work in visual art, music, and of course writing. I tried to track down as many of the contributors without being too stalky, so if you like their work, let them know and find more!

It’s started to rain again, which totally aggravates my overuse pain, but bless that ibuprofen tablet’s magic! The pain’s become easily bearable again.

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