SST5 Piece – Jim! (Final Draft)

9 May

Timing: Roughly 5 minutes in total.

I’ve taken this and the last SST to really push my performance and reading these pieces aloud played a huge part in the way I wrote and edited them – so I can’t say how well this will read from the page. Go!

A Response To Channel 4’s The Undateables, A Documentary Following The Experience Of Disabled Individuals As They Enter The Dating World.

Brent, 21.

A letter to Lizzie.

I’m not that used to writing. I get control over what I say. I don’t usually have that. I keep waiting for this pen to slip out my hand, to misspell the easiest words. I’ve already smashed my fist into the paper six times. That’s what tourettes feels like. All these words punching out my throat.

I’m writing this cause I got proper nervous after our first date. I was having a wicked time. I forgot to apologise for what I said that didn’t mean to.

When they were filming me, I said love’s like a medication. I sleep next to someone at night, there’s no ticks or anything. You probably think it sucks to be like a shot of anesthetic for a boy who will swear at you more often than compliment you, right?

You know, when I was waiting for you by the docks I told the camera guy to fuck off. That wasn’t the tourettes. I just wanted to look out at the water for a bit cause it calms me down. I know there was this storm of nerves in me when you showed up Lizzie.

But after we’d snowboarded for like three hours we collapsed to the floor at the top of the dry slope, and I didn’t tick once you know, and we looked out at Plymouth in a silence that was okay.

I bet you were thinking how awesome the town looked from that view all lit up by the stars and shit. All I was thinking in that moment was: how many ways can I totally screw this up?

I don’t know much about romance but I do know that there’s got to be nothing worse than my hand almost touching yours the exact moment I blurted out “BIG TITS!”.

But you laughed for like ages man.

If we had kissed that night I would have pushed my lips into yours way too hard and for way too long and it wouldn’t have been for romantic reasons. It’s just cause I know that way no words can get out that I don’t mean to let out. Maybe that is romantic though.

I got to thinking about how sick it would be to reverse the tourettes.

Like if you asked me if I missed you after we’d been apart for a week and I was all like ‘I think it’s cool we got some space’ the tourettes would flare up and all I could spit out of me would be I MISSED YOU SO MUCH.

Or if we were fighting and I told you to fuck off my whole body would spaz out and I’d like proper howl I LOVE YOU. LOVE YOU. I LOVE YOU.

Brent. x

For Brent

On your first date with Lizzie, you were most afraid of saying the worst possible thing at the most insensitive moment. I have never sworn to a girl’s unsuspecting face. Have not complimented her cleavage loud enough for the entire pub to hear. I mean, I feel uneasy even texting the word “crap”.

But I know what it feels like to be trapped inside a body smothering the heart it carries. To choke on your own insecurity. When the ticks trailed off as you met Lizzie by those docks, I knew you were becoming a quiet beg to be held and I broke down.

Not with sympathy, but how it reminded me of when a girl name Yasmin, broken a thing as I was, drove me through Birmingham at 11pm asking about sex positions and if it bothers me that she is a smoker or takes star signs seriously and I just stared out the window wanting to be anywhere else but knowing the lingering promise of 30 minutes of touch inside an empty car park would force me to stay.

I am impaired in ways far less visible than you Brent. Have the privilege of concealing the most confused parts of myself beneath my skin. This body’s desperate craving for intimacy not conventional enough a label to audition me for the show.

Tell me Brent, was the real struggle to grind every curse word between your teeth, or simply to maintain eye contact? To trap the twitch of your leg, or know when to ask about her favourite movie so you could suggest watching it together?

They say the disabled are our most vulnerable people. Just last week in the space of two hours I cried to the first verse of Nicki Minaj’s ‘Super Bass’, a closing scene in Hollyoaks and the anniversary card my mum got my dad with the message tea and biscuits, beans on toast, you and me.

Do not tell me I have not felt like the most vulnerable person. We are are all the most vulnerable of people. We all need assistance. We all need personal care.

We are all disabled by experience and environment more than the given jigsaw of our limbs or the unwrapping gift of our mind’s understanding of the world.

Brent. When your hand inched closer to Lizzie’s at the top of that dry slope and all you felt was the fear of literally fucking it up, I did not feel sorry for you. I was jealous of you Brent. I have become too strong a thing. Too afraid of hurt to date with meaningful and romantic possibility. You remind me to be consistently terrified. You make me promise I will do my very best to live as cripplingly human, as you.




3 Responses to “SST5 Piece – Jim! (Final Draft)”

  1. mouthypoets May 13, 2013 at 3:46 pm #

    I commend your courage in delving into this topic. I feel it reads well.

    As far as editing I will mention what I’ve said to a few of the other mouthy massive. It’s about what you want us to come away with when we are through this. It’s all valuable but what parts are specific to what you want us to feel. Decide this And it becomes easier to strip out the rest and focus on delivering that feeling. However it needs to be one of two things. Especially with a topic like this because it already has empathy built in regardless of if that’s an emotion you wanna deliver. Especially if you give any type of preface to the piece. The audience is now ready to listen with an already sympathetic ear. Now that maybe be great if that sympathy is what youre planning on dispelling by the end, but if not. It may be good to just go into the poem and then have the image/flavor of brent build over the course of the poem without knowing the circumstance beforehand.

    If you are going to put your second part in with this. Then it becomes a lot. A lot of places and things you want me to feel. His plight vs. my preconceptions of disability plus then vs. it’s similarities with you the author. It’s a great challenge but would need to make sure it’s clear and the stanzas are almost stories within themselves. You’d really have to create a path for the listener

    Let me know if that doesn’t make sense. Thanks for sharing

    Tshaka Campbell

  2. mouthypoets May 19, 2013 at 9:27 pm #

    This is a lovely piece. I really like the ideas you’ve got down here, and I like how you’ve explored tourettes in a romantic setting – I can’t say how accurately you’ve gotten into the mind of a tourettes patient (me not having tourettes, and all), but it’s a really interesting, charming set of hypothetical situations and responses, and you’ve really brought across the personality of the central character/narrator. I rather like the guy. And the structure of the whole thing is great, the “prayer” makes for a wonderful emotional climax.

    My only problem is with the first paragraph. Although it all kind of makes sense in the end, it throws me when your first line is “I’m not really that into writing” and your second is “It’s like I have control over what I say”; it seems like that’d be a reason for him to LIKE writing. I think that the overall sentiment is that he dislikes writing because he keeps waiting for a tic that never comes, but that isn’t bought across very clearly (if indeed it is the sentiment). And while the piece about the words “punching out of the throat” is a nice analogy, it feels like it’s kind of crushed the initial topic of the paragraph – how Brent feels about writing – when it arrives. So yeah, I’d recommend re-doing the first bit.

    Other than that, nice work.


  3. mouthypoets May 28, 2013 at 2:08 pm #

    Hey Jim,

    Happy I am finally getting to read this as I have heard so much about it! The first section seriously blew me away – like nothing I have ever heard ever! The second half was touching, especially in light of the first. I have focused a lot on what you should cut because of how long it is, but not for the sake of it, I think there is so much concise stuff in there I want to focus on pruning around that. I hope this is helpful…


    -I really like how you have taken on Bret’s voice and I think it works really successful, it sounds genuine and conversational. I also really like how you have used punctuation to mirror that, particularly how you use full stops to make things clean and clear and the movement fluid.

    -“That’s what tourettes feels like. All these words punching out my throat.” Beautiful description, if feels accurate from the way Tourette’s sounds.

    -The third paragraph for me is outstanding, the way you move from documentary, to past to present is fluid and delivers so much information through telling.

    -Great balance of humour and flits between that and darkness. I think the power of that in the writing really came out in Stephens performance – give yourself props for how clear the direction of your text is. E.g. “That wasn’t the tourettes.”

    -I like the conversational things you are doing with punctuation, I think it is really successful and well guided in mind of performance… “ I know there was this storm of nerves in me when you showed up Lizzie.”

    -I think the way you tell the story is great, I see it all, I see him, I see Lizzie and I understand them. Each paragraph carries a perfect unit of both plot and meaning – it feels confident and skilful. It would be worth reading this to someone who doesn’t know Brett or the show though and see what they see and understand because I know it well and could be biased due to that.

    -I love the layers of reality, humanity, politics and sadness in this. They all contrast eachother to give this whole piece a sense of raw emotion that I have never seen in your work before. I truly this it is amazing, the kissing line in particular hit me hard in the chest.

    -Every line, every statement carries so much information about the characters and I love that e.g. “I mean, I feel uneasy even texting the word “crap”.”

    -The second section really comes to life for me when you talk about disabled people as the most vulnerable some amazingly personal and universally important points here, made specifically and humanly. So strong in fact I would keep “Do not tell me I have not felt like the most vulnerable person. ” And cut “We are are all the most vulnerable of people… (until) … understanding the world” … Because that is inferred and shown better in other parts of the poem in my opinion and this will challenge you to perform that one line alone with the weight of the rest.


    -Is that the title in bold? If so, are you going to read that out? If not, what is the title?

    -I struggling with understanding/visualising the following sections…
    “I’ve already smashed my fist into the paper six times.”
    (I just felt like this was hard to visualise? Smashed suggests into something hard but paper is flimsy. I also felt like this would rip the paper? Maybe work on the verbs of the detail of the image, maybe involve the table or the context of where, how or why?)

    “I forgot to apologise for what I said that didn’t mean to.”
    (I just clean didn’t really understand what this meant. Maybe playing with punctuation or line breaks could help you here?)

    -Why have you chosen to use this prose-poetry form? Is it solely because of the letter format? I think that this form is 100% successful in the first piece but the second piece feels looser… try to put it into stanza’s could support you in tightening up the meaning in places? Have you tried giving yourself a fixed stanza and line length? It might be worth copying and pasting this into a new document and just having a play? (I have elaborated on this a bit in suggestions).

    -What are you going to do with the swearing in this for the 12a show? I think what Stephen did with the physical ticks was really interesting and this could be a good way to replace the swear words? I get that this won’t always work e.g. “starts and shit” maybe here you could not tick but mouthy the word delicately or something? Part of me might be okay with that word to be honest, but it is risky and it might be worth waiting till the day to see what audience we get as to weather or not you do this?


    -I know you are talking in this guys voice, so I am concentrating more on the delecate phrasing rather than word choices overall and overall I think that is amazingly done. But I have to challenge a “storm of nerves” it feels clichéd to me and I wonder if there is a more original alternative that is still within the remit of Brett’s character?

    -In the second piece, I would cut your first sentence and start with “I have never sworn to a girl’s unsuspecting face.” Because I think the first line is already implicit from the text above and the second line is way strong and has the black humour of the rest of the piece.

    -This line feels clumsy to me, I think you need better verbs or maybe just a more concise image, simile or metaphor? Maybe one that ties in with the Tourette’s more…
    “But I know what it feels like to be trapped inside a body smothering the heart it carries.”…I tried to re-write n example but I am not really sure what you mean enough to do so? Maybe just cut it. “To choke on your own insecurity” is a brilliant line and says it all I think.

    -I also don’t really understand this line, but it feels like it has more purpose and content, …“I knew you were becoming a quiet beg to be held and I broke down.”
    …I am just not sure what a quiet beg is and also ‘broke down’ is clichéd for me. What did you actually do?

    -Cut “Not with sympathy, but.” … “It reminded me… etc.” is stronger, it doesn’t need the conversational padding. But I think that section needs some working, maybe working with stanzas would help because I find it hard to follow the images? It’s all there I just think there should be less descriptive words and more concision e.g…

    It reminded me of Yasmin,
    I was broken. She drove me
    through Birmingham. 11pm.
    Asked about sex positions,
    Or if her smoking bothered me.

    I stared out the window wanting:
    anywhere else. Knowing:
    the promise. 30 minutes of touch.
    An empty car park. And I’d have to stay.

    I am impaired in ways far less visible than you Brent.

    -I would keep the first line but cut the rest of this paragraph, the paragraph above shows what this one is telling… “Have the privilege of concealing the most confused parts of myself beneath my skin. This body’s desperate craving for intimacy not conventional enough a label to audition me for the show.”

    -Cut “I didn’t feel sorry for you” in the last stanza, it is there already in the text. In fact I would cut a lot of that last stanza to something like this…

    Brent. When your hand inched closer to Lizzie’s
    at the top of that dry slope and all you felt
    was the fear of literally fucking it up.
    I was jealous of you Brent.

    Your misspelled lips reminding me,
    Your paper hands reminding me
    To be cripplingly human,
    Like an empty car park
    Like you.

    …Obviously, this is my version but basically what I am saying is a. cut out the telling, b. add some showing and c. use language and imagery from the rest of the poem to do so with a sense of conclusion.


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