On January 11th, I woke at 5:55 feeling sick. Because I was working from home that day, I took a couple Tylenol, and hopped online, planning to go back to bed once they kicked in. Almost immediately, I saw the news of David Bowie’s death. That day, it was not Macbeth, but death itself, that murdered sleep. Thus began a day of profound grief for the whole world. I holed up in my bedroom with my laptop, teaching my online classes and intermittently bursting into tears. I’ve never been so strongly affected by the death of someone I didn’t know personally. David Bowie’s artistry has had an tremendous impact on both my identity and the way I live my life, and I’m so grateful for the body of work he left behind. As I’ve been navigating this, there have been moments when I’ve felt like I didn’t have the right to mourn this loss, or that it wasn’t a “real” loss. (I also have a weird, irrational fear that, to punish me for grieving over a virtual stranger, the universe is going to take away someone legitimately close to me. ‘Cause, you know, I need more stuff to worry about. I think this might come from a combination of a Roman Catholic upbringing and weird, Italian superstitions?) However, I’m fortunate to have a lot of other friends who are feeling the same way, and there’s reassurance in solidarity. Additionally, articles like this one by Suzanne Moore are equally validating.
For most artists, art is a way to process grief. Beyond that though, I also like to think that grief can be artistically productive. Sometimes, though, it takes me a really long time to get to a place where I can channel loss into any sort of worthwhile art, so I wasn’t sure that I’d be able to write about David Bowie right away. However, I was going through some writing prompts, and I got an idea for a new project that will allow me to really sit with Bowie’s work, and also pay homage to him through my art. Over the next several months (or however long), I’ll be working on a series of David Bowie-inspired found poems. I’ll be creating a found poem for each album (or as many as I can get through), using lines sourced from said album’s song lyrics. I chose Diamond Dogs as the first album, because it’s one of my favorites, and also because it was in my car cd player when David Bowie died. As such, here’s the initial draft of the first poem in the project:
The Season of the Bitch
a found poem sourced from David Bowie’s “Diamond Dogs” by Cara Losier Chanoine
Hope, boys, is a cheap thing–
it even smells like a street,
and changing isn’t free
Oh dress yourself, my urchin one!
I’m looking for the treason,
having so much fun with the poisonous people
If this trade is a curse, then I’ll bless you
to a cellar like a church
til the sun drips blood on the seedy young knights.
Beware the savage lure.
Mannequins with kill appeal
wrote up scandals in other bars;
hunt you to the ground they will.
You’ve got your transmission
and a live wire
but they’ll split your pretty cranium
to wrangle some screams from the room,
while the lizards lay crying in the heat
Give me pulsars unreal,
and I’m in tears again.
You can’t get enough,
but enough ain’t the test.
Gentle hearts are counted down.
We feel that we are paper,
choking on you nightly,
trusting on the sons of our love.
Some brave Apollo,
he’ll build a better whirlpool.
And in death, the shutters lifted