Why I hoped for a Son
On the 12th of December 2018, I had an egg extraction procedure. By two o’clock that day I had become an official egg donor. I had undergone the scans, hormone injections and stress of preparing my body to overproduce eggs in the quiet hope that they might give someone else the opportunity to conceive and have a child. The title of this blog post is deceiving — I am not the boy’s mother. I am his egg donor. The lady who bore and will raise what I now know is a little boy is his mother. I am a very small part of his DNA (three-way DNA is an intriguing subject) and I will be an even smaller part of his life. I have always referred to children as “It”. Even now I am editing my ‘its’ as I write this post. I am not maternal and I have no ambitions to raise children. Yet, I cannot help but feel responsible for the child. I may have been a minuscule cog in a very large machine but I was an integral one. I had hoped for a son simply because the modern world remains cruel to women.
My PhD Journey and a Brief Account of my Reasons
My PhD journey is coming to an end. The momentum that kept me moving forward with my writing has slowed down and come to an abrupt stop. I have spent the last few months questioning my identity and integrity as a writer. I was brought up on the grand gestures of superheroes and I always believed that we were placed on this earth to be useful to our society. Medieval Welsh bards shared similar ethics. They were poets, politicians and warriors. The balance between words and actions is what drew me to their poetry five years ago. But the rush of applause has taken me further into an academic and creative bubble that largely excludes the voices that prompted me to pursue my education to the highest level in the first place. The title of Doctor and the prestige that comes with being published by reputable publications has always been one of my ambitions. This is because I want the attention and respect that usually comes with that form of academic and creative success.
I believe that I need this attention because those platforms have a large and attentive audience. I have always, and only, wanted my voice to be heard and respected. I was dismissed and neglected by the teaching staff at my secondary school. My seeming learning disabilities were used as an excuse to acquire teaching assistants and to move me to classes where those teachers were needed. For example, classes with behavioural problems. I struggled for five years under the assumption that my future was bleak. Five minutes before my Maths G.C.S.E, a teacher told me that I was not going pass the test. Another teacher told a fellow student that if she wanted to become a vet then she better start writing to Jim will Fix It. When I think how close I am to acheiving a PhD and contributing original research to my field, my thoughts drift to all the wasted potential who never had parents who encouraged them to continue their education despite not achieving good GCSEs or lecturers who believed in their ability but understood that ability and talent must be nurtured and developed. I’m not a smart person. I know… I come from a family who are exceptionally smart. But I am intelligent. I understand my strengths and weakness. I can research a subject, understand it and articulate my thoughts in a coherent manner.
My secondary school education didn’t equip me with basic skills that my time in a professional and academic environment has proven to me comes naturally to others. The sentence “this is basic stuff, Rhea” has become my curse and anthem. It reminds me to never be complacent. I have spent years trying to acquire those basic skills. At times I have felt like a five-year-old who has been taken on by NASA. I’ve failed and succeeded in my endeavours to be normal. I have made my weaknesses into strengths and boldly defied them when they could not be mitigated.
I chose to pursue my education partly because I wanted to prove that I could but mostly because I knew that what I had to offer my society was a lot more than I had initially thought possible. I have an obligation to contribute everything within my possession. I want to be in a position where I can be heard and begin conversations that can change attitudes, reveal and open doors for those who never had opportunities and repay some of the kindness shown to me by those lecturers who gave me a larynx. Now that I am beginning my career, I hope that I don’t disappoint them. Above all, I hope that I never forget the reasons that motivated me to study for a PhD in poetry.
Cofion gorau (Garedig ewch yn/Kindly go in)
The Queen had named him Pryderi;
stripped from her life of equerry,
militia ruffled reins once more.
Rhiannon never did deplore
the coarse punishment misconstrued
upon her; the ladies imbued
with false pride, butter her demise
with buckets of frayed lullabies
instead of water; he came home
to a bouquet of rue; coulomb
shocks her fair-haired child; she ordered
a saddle be kept and haltered
to her door; the ladies retold
the story with the King extolled.
Cronus sought a ghost in Heaven
but found pale, mortal flesh cession
in laboured breaths and made his choice;
the Queen’s ladies sought equipoise
in disorder, threw dignity
asunder, concealed their blunder
that broke the cradle with uncouth,
torn claws: bleeding, yellow; conduce
a fate that rivalled the hag’s face;
she mistook silence for diastase
within her ranks; they gripped Urisk,
painted him a bleak basilisk
that stoned knights who looked upon it;
coerced Rhiannon snatched the bit.
Rhiannon became the ghost Queen;
wafted the courtyard — ethylene
musk clung to hands with besotted
sweat that marks thighs of men bloated
from their valour; she gained renown
with her deformation that’ll drown
with the sea, the moat constricts
her lips and clubs aphasia;
she couldn’t gallop her white steed,
ethereal, she talked in whinnied
gasps that wrenches skin loose, attaches
bones that birth a ghost who snatches
the reins away in wreathed horror;
it’ll gleefully rupture order.
Harvest seaweed in hopes that the
Nuckelavee will dig that spur
deeper, bone and sinew exposed
as unluck ripples, snaps riposte
with angered charm; kindness disarms
the lady that rides within barbs
of its mismatched, aqua skeleton;
keep on praying for redemption.
One arm dragged as porcelain skin
slices against stones, webbed condign
will fray, rupture and redefine
wolfish hands, crush a celandine
flower with awkward Grindylows’
that spew mortasheen embryos.
The equine’s spine trembles, frisson
rimes bitter with nihilism;
the mortasheen has infected
and flourished, valour dissected
her contrivance with amaranthine
oaths excreted through brash guanine
bonds the chivalrous can previse;
scorn those grey, sylphie butterflies,
advise them to stop wasting time.
The kelpie secretes lysozyme,
sweat bruises her heart, vitrify,
cast stones only to transmogrify
with cautious desideratum,
stitched her girth in ardent bonum.
She’d been reprieved by mocked hubris,
hid under worn stitching, a fluence
began an argute estrapade;
shamed, her knights formed a cavalcade
in her honour. It was too late,
grated flesh till she might tolerate
ischemia exalts necrosis;
all she’d ever wanted was love.
She rode wild once to mellifluous
wails, leaves flutter cross thunderous
skies, schema snits with blunderbuss
jumentous trails; ensnared, gumbo
spits from her cauldron: “mum…bo…oh”.
This poem has been influenced by a cyhydedd fer.
 An electrical charge, equal to the quantity conveyed in one second by a current of one ampere.
 An impairment of language affecting the production of speech and the comprehension of the spoken word, along with the ability to read and write.
 A disease passed on by the Nuckelavee — a Welsh mythical creature– that forces an individual to suffer a slow and agonising death.
 ‘Argute’ and ‘estrapade’ is the action of a horse rearing, plunging and bucking to unseat a rider.
 An inadequate supply of blood to an organ or part of the body, especially the heart.
Hiraeth Turned Salty in the Pharynx
They rolled hiraeth around their mouth like needles;
earmarked it for an allied nation to
conceal in homesickness, misconstruing
a weight that tears at the ligaments of our tongue.
Ils ont enroulé Hiraeth sur leur bouche comme des épines ;
qui le destinait à une nation alliée pour qu’elle puisse
dissimuler le mal du pays, une mauvaise interprétation
un poids qui déchire les ligaments de notre langue.
A SoundCloud account that I can no longer access or download the content because I’ve forgotten my password. It is still an interesting way to pass half an hour to an hour with a cup of tea and biscuit though.
Short-Term Development Work with Parallel.Cymru
It was a cold Autumn afternoon that I met Neil Rowlands, friend and founder of Parallel.Cymru, to discuss an opportunity for short-term development work at Parallel.Cymru. A bisgedi Bourbon and te mochyn later I was yn ddigon ffodus to sign a contract to write an introduction to Welsh poets throughout the centuries. I don’t want to spoil the surprise but I am very excited to be supporting the innovative and captivating Parallel.Cymru once more!
Datblygiad Tymor Byr Gweithio gyda Parallel.Cymru
Roedd yn brysur oer yn yr hydref a gwnes i gyfarfod â Neil Rowlands, ffrind a sylfaenydd Parallel.Cymru, i drafod cyfle ar gyfer gwaith datblygu tymor byr yn Parallel.Cymru. Bourbon a bochedi yn ddiweddarach roeddwn i’n ddigon ffodus i arwyddo cytundeb i ysgrifennu cyflwyniad i feirdd Cymreig trwy’r canrifoedd. Dydw i ddim eisiau difetha’r syndod ond rwy’n falch iawn fy mod yn cefnogi’r Parallel.Cymru arloesol a chysurus unwaith eto! Esguswch unrhyw gamgymeriadau. Rwy’n dysgu siarad Cymraeg.
Two of my poems have been published in this month’s Poetry Wales (July 2018)!
David Greenslade talking on Prynhawn Da (6.32-12.16) in Llanelli (19.06.2018). The Welsh Lady exhibited in Glorious Disgust is featured towards the end of the interview.
Audio of two of my poems that have been published in The Lonely Crowd
You can find an essay explaining what influenced the two poems on The Lonely Crowd’s website (https://thelonelycrowd.org/2018/06/05/on-writing-madness-and-the-sea-laughed-and-the-stomach-blushed-rhea-seren-phillips/).