Sarah Gonnet



Introduction (to Voices)



Sometimes I merge with other people.


People I see and watch. People on TV shows. People in books. But mostly people I obsess over.  It’s not love I feel for them, it’s something more. It is more, even, than a connection. It is an often one-way spiritual flow that I have with those certain people and that I also have with my madness.


It is absorption and simultaneously projection.


I start to think in their voice.


I feel their facial features in the place of my face.


I absorb who they are and then I’m left to deal with the extra dimension they demand from my brain. An extension needs to be built to house this new person.


Then that's that: they are always there.  In my mind. Moving around. Talking to each other. I can hear their voices.


Their voices are stronger than my voice.


Pseudo-hallucinations the Doctors call them; but the voices don’t like having only one name like that.  They want their own names. They always want their own fucking way.


If I am real in any way, I am not a person; I am a set of scales. These people I absorb live in my head and are in constant opposition to each other. They have such bitter things to argue about. I am the scale that weighs one voice against another. I measure out the right amount of each of them and then project this image of sanity when I talk to other people. But this image of sanity is only a magic potion made of spirits and voices. It does not make a real person. It also doesn’t always work- I am undeniably weird.


Projecting the people in my head, and managing some of their horrific ways is difficult. I take drugs: anti-psychotics, anti-depressants and tranquilizers, to dull them and sleeping pills to get some rest from them. But ultimately I have to project them somehow, or they will not go away. Making it harder is the way they all have impulses. Dirty impulses that need placation. Some make me cut myself deep. Some make me seek out throwaway sex.


Some make me manipulate: once you’ve absorbed someone you can see how they work. Everyone has a mechanism I can learn. I learn these mechanisms by heart because I’m hoping and hoping and hoping I will one day be able to make a mechanism like that for myself. One that would make me into a real person. Not just a conduit for voices.


It always comes back to the fact that I have to project them, the voices, purge them from my system (though only so new voices can soon imbed themselves in the resulting spare room). So I have to write; I have to paint; I have to act (after all, all the world is a stage); and I have to hoard.


But hoarding is also a process of absorption: there are all those voices in my books; all those foreign worlds on my discs; they are just too tempting for my black hole of a brain. I have to absorb four books a week. I have an obsession with the number four. It links all of my fantasy worlds and relays back to play a part in my reality.


When I sit and look at my hoard  it becomes a physical representation of all of the pieces of me; all the different voices inside me.


I am not living when I’m not creating, not projecting, or hoarding. I fear that is because there is nothing there beneath the voices, the identities. The ones I have absorbed and the few I was born with:  the child me who still plays, collects stickers and watches Adventure Time, the manic me, the depressed me, the grunge- dressed artist writer me. But these fragments of self have huge fissures in them. There is plenty of room in these fissures for the absorption of people and characters and their voices. There are so many layers. But I fear that maybe, if they were unravelled, I would find they’re not protecting anything.


Music really brings the voices out. They like listening and they like the ease it allows them to force me into their perception, like a musical lubrication. So I listen to certain albums in my isolated shed to summon certain parts of myself. Then I let them out onto the paper. Sometimes I don’t need the music to summon the voices up; but their signal strength increases if I do.  Sleeping pills bring them out too. Half an hour after I take the tablet the voices flow freely; all of them off in their own wavering directions. When they join up and become one electric stream again I am asleep and they lead my dreams.


The book you hold right now contains four voices from the mystical and outright mentally ill kingdom of my head. Some of them are drawn from life, some from shadows of life, some from fantasy; and one, Azra, is a personification of my madness. The voices came out as poetry this time. Poetry is something that can only be written under intense inspiration, so these poems project some of the voices in my head with a unique clarity that it is hard to express in any other medium




Sarah Gonnet © 2015


This is the Introduction to the upcoming chapbook Voices (Survivors’ Poetry)