Emily Harrison launched her debut collection I Can’t Sleep ‘Cause My Bed’s On Fire on July 31st at the Betsey Trotwood. It was a lively do, and Emily had several ex-housemates, poets, and friends from her hometown of Swindon read poems from the book. Everyone had something to say about Emily and it showed just why she’s become such a popular poet.
She’s gigged lots with Stand Up and Spit, we love talented young writers who have something to say and a sense of humour. Importantly Emily’s class politics and discussion about mental health isn’t just for the page and social media; she gigs in support of what she believes in as well as having introduced the semicolon to the West Country.
Emily is known for talking about her experiences in the mental health system. It’s easy for poets to be trite or to pose as victims whilst actually doing nothing. Emily has always brought honesty and humour to her work, her readings are pithy and engage with her audience. She opens a lot of discussion about the realities of mental health with an ‘it’s okay to talk about this’ attitude. Further, she consistently says ‘it’s healthy to talk about this’ and the launch had plenty of material from Mind, Calm, and Refuge on all the tables in the pub.
Cross-legged in front of the wardrobe mirror
she puts on the face
along with the second-date dress she chose
for memories’ sake.
Her fingernails match the toenail polish he won’t see
but it makes her feel better.
She always wears the heels.
We hear her coming
all the way from the gynaecology ward.
No one in here knows her name.
Milad stands by the ping-pong table,
the awkward prom proposal without the flowers.
A staff member has to let her in
and we know to leave them a meeting room.
They laugh and they talk and they kiss
about anything other than this.
Visiting hours go on longer when she’s here.
Before he leaves he perches her on the edge
of the ping-pong table
as seven psychiatric patients look on.
A staff member yells, ‘That’s it, end of visiting hours.’
She whispers into his neck,
a staff member yells that visiting hours are over.
She holds his face in her hands
and with the sternness of a cattle prod says,
‘Do not cheat on me in here.’
A staff member yells
and she is escorted out.
Milad stands by the door until he can’t hear her anymore.
No one knows her name,
she just always wears the heels.