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Society is a wooly contrivance.  Take it off and feel your own skin, smooth across your body like chilled oil pressed and earthborn; the smell of benediction is Human.  Pre–plastic.

First, cut your teeth against your cage.  It is a sharp imaginary confluence. Emerge and start releasing others.

Pledge allegiance to no tribe.  Instead, lick all corners.  Accept the distasteful along with the delicious as knowledge. The grotesque symbolic and the shambled idyllic.

Unabashedly create work that provokes a strong opinion.  Abandon the Wasteland of Vague.  Nothing grows there, but resentful mediocrity and lost melodies.  Nomenclature is your specific super-power.

How we consume is how we choose to live.  Consume laterally, respectfully, with gratitude.

Have the courage to fling your mind against the muddy banks of the Mainstream, despite failure, despite rejection and insecurity; the riverbanks are where seeds take root.

Self-indulgence is a form of intellectual suppression.  The solar system does not need you.  Nor does it care what you had for breakfast or what you’re watching on Netflix.  Just shut up and get on with it.

Your work will document our time here for species to come.  Think of yourself archeologically and resist unexceptional tat.

Stand at the entry of your dark forest of soft tissue, breathe and enter.  Disobey the sirens.  Fire like a synapse up your stem.  Desire meltdown.  Discomfort stirs transmutation.

And why not?


Gretchen Heffernan is a poet, novelist and publisher.  She co-founded Backlash Press and has published in journals such as Agni and Brittle Star.  She is the author of fantasy titles, The Book of Dirt and, forthcoming, The Book of Insects.  Early next year she will be releasing her fiction novel The Carving Circle.  She has a degree in Creative Writing and Modern Poetry from Vermont College.  She has completed two Faber Academy writing programs and has been involved with The Poetry School in London.  In September she begins a post doctorate in Creative and Critical Writing from Brighton University.  She is very interested in combining visual and poetic narratives with myth.  She also loves trees and manages ancient woodland in East Sussex, England.  Visit www.gretchenheffernan.com for more information.

Gretchen Heffernan