This is a project supported by The City of Melbourne Covid Quick Response Grant. I have interviewed disabled and Deaf artists about how their creative practice has been impacted by Covid-19. Jessica Knight (she/her) is a writer and conflicted heathen based in Naarm (Melbourne). Jessica’s response to how she’s made art during Covid is below, as well as a recording of her reciting poetry. Text of the poems is at the end of this post, as well as a video description. Video description and poetry text to accompany video: Jessica is standing in a room with pictures on the wall behind her, ans books stacked up on shelves. Jessica is wearing dark blue overalls over a black top. She is a fair skinned woman with shoulder length brown hair. She is reading the poems from her phone. Jessica introduces the poem by saying “Hello, I’m Jessica Knight and I’m going to be reading two poems that I’ve been working on during home isolation. The first one is called “I Am A True Angst Teen Poet At Heart. I’m Sorry.” Jessica recites this and then introduces the second poem. She says “the next poem I’m going to read for you is entitled Purple hair dye looks gruesome on a hospital pillowcase”. I Am A True Angst Teen Poet At Heart. I’m Sorry. By Jessica Knight If there were photos from all the way back then they would show us drunk and in a muddle. Or my head turned in your direction waiting for a sign you felt the same. Did you hear the rumours? I tell you it doesn’t matter one of us always chasing the attention of the other. I sleep with a photo of you under my pillow while home for summer still not enough of my sleep involves dreaming. Do you still have the letters from all the way back then? It was good practice I suppose for what I do now. Your birthday invite with you age 3 I walked around everywhere with an image of little you in my back pocket so I could take it out and stare in wonder anywhere I went. An avalanche of tears when it went through the wash your young face sodden dissolved Into nothing like it never was. Hoped it was more than just friendship and your trademark impatience we were nothing in particular it didn’t stop me though I have a good imagination. Hoped it was possibly love or even lust when you paid the rest so I could take that studded belt home and put it on. Made you poetic despite your limitations. Loud laughing to cover the confusion questions I know how to answer but wanted to hear you say anything something anything something. Instead I’m at your house party in the bath with the beers and ice freezing cold and grabbing at your body to try and get out of another situation I let you put me in. They were zombies yes the flesh was hanging from their bones I helped them through a half open window they stood before me all unsteady. I got them to remove their torn and bloodied clothes cheerfully did their laundry they were the undead the undead became my friends. Wanted to tell you that dream when I woke up tell you the zombies are us without each other but you had left for work already so i wrote a love note on your pillow and cried on the tram from Brunswick to Southern Cross Station a concerned looking lady asked if I’m ok. I sniff and smile in reply before looking away. Least of it all is the fact that you got a good girl to turn her twisted little back on god for a taste of you. Took the drawing down posted your hat back with a three page letter proceeded to make you poetic in spite of all your limitations. I can’t stop reading my handwriting so much black ink oh god it was fun we put on quite a show. There are moments now while drinking with new friends my imagination flickers to vengeful if I had another chance my teeth press down hard on some ice as I consider other things I could have used my teeth for. Made you poetic despite all the limitations. Purple hair dye looks gruesome on a hospital pillowcase By Jessica Knight The next time i die I want to be happy and old Because the last time I was not and So confused thought I was at the bottoms of the ocean And so far from you I just can’t get over the image How cute and sad it would have been You arriving at the nurses station With a bag of things you know I like Being told by the nurse with the kraken tattoo That Ive been moved again That I’m in icu again That I might not pull through again How it was so selfish of me to leave the ward without saying goodbye It was her last day at six south west Wish you could explain To me how it felt to arrive that evening And find a nurse sitting in a chair watching me sleep. I don’t remember pulling the tube from my neck But I’m still pretty proud that even in the thick of it I found a way to rebel in a body roaring into a fight Anyway the nurse was watching me sleep for their entire shift. Such attention all eyes on me a performance unscripted yet compelling in its exquisite calamity. You took over so she could go to the toilet. What were you thinking ? As you sat with the coat I like hugging your shoulders your eyes on me watching me sleep. Some choice swears ? Or too tired for even thinking what a silly little bitch I am. I imagine it’s along those lines Now, here I am can dress myself and sit up straight know my name strong enough in the mind to give you a hard time such a hard time. I get so angry for no reason and cannot sleep sometimes get stomachs aches and chest pains like I’m dying. I feel as soon as I relax Its going to grab me again. I had such plans for what I’d be when I came home told you we should get a cat and I was going to be nicer. I thought it would all be left under the harsh hospital lighting. It came with me wounds within wounds some scars you can touch gently As you fall asleep and the rest are hidden They say it’s not my fault say it’s to be expected I’ve been through a lot I would not be surprised if some nights you look at me asleep and think some choice words Goddammit you silly little bitch. I deserve it Jessica’s bio: Jessica Knight is a writer, performer and comedian based in Melbourne. She has appeared in The Emerging Writers Festival, Red Dirt Poetry Festival. Her writing has appeared in Meanjin and Scum Mag. Jessica was a 2018 recipient of a Creative Victoria grant that funded her one woman show, Mormon Girl, about growing up Mormon and how she disentangled herself from that belief system to became the unapologetic feminist she is today. She performed Mormon Girl at the 2019 Melbourne Fringe Festival and was due to perform it at the 2020 Melbourne International Comedy Festival – but latter was cancelled due to COVID-19. Jess Knight is a contributor to the Growing Up Disabled in Australia – and its publication has been delayed until February 2021 due to COVID-19. Jessica can be found on Twitter, Instagram and her blog. Mental health support: Lifeline: 131114 Arts Wellbeing Collective
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