Writing as Self-propelled Meat with Delusions

Stef Rozitis is a high school teacher and researcher in Australia. They are terrified of the coming climate armageddon. They live with two of their three kids and a cat who refuses to proofread or do anything else useful. They have recently been published in Dyst, Non-binary Review, Cerasus and Dissident Voice. They’ve also published academic stuff that they’re actually quite proud of. When Stef is not messing around with words they are making vegan food or coming up with excuses not to do the housework and gardening. (Apparently Stef also moonlights as a politician!) 

Whoops – Stef Rozitis suddenly realises that their bio makes them look like a rank amateur. So be it! That climate thing is an actual worry though…

Read Stef’s work in this issue:

Quite A Performance / Tell us something interesting about yourself

Stef says: I’m a non-binary Australian writer. My “day job” is teaching Year 11 research projects and also being a research assistant. My poems are quite self-deprecating. In them I admit I don’t really “get” poetry and feel like a bit of an impostor hypocrite for writing (albeit I compulsively will insist on writing). I strongly believe that a good poet, whatever that is, listens and reads more than they write. I’ve been to a lot of poetry slams where some random and possibly drunk person from the audience scores highest. It reduces us all to performers, but then maybe that is what we all were to begin with. Too much poetry is wank and then I get scared that mine is too.

Sometimes you read something that actually cuts through all the mess and the background noise and actually speaks to you and makes some part of life luminescent or at least more honest but a lot of the time we’re just putting words in piles and hoping something happens (or so it seems to me). So I very deliberately compare poets showing off, largely ignored to a monkey in a cage masturbating against the bars. Who can blame us? The bars are certainly there!  I hope I am exaggerating and someone somewhere listens to all the poets.

The second poem talks about how hard it is to show yourself WITHIN your work let alone then also write a bit of a bio where you try to be more interesting than you really are. Anything about myself is a work of fiction just as much as the writing itself, sorry but I don’t know how to do anything else unless I write—I am just a lump of breathing, self-propelled meat with delusions. I don’t want to say that about myself. The bit about passing the Turing test I guess is a dig at the tendency to try to “pass” as the right sort of thing. 

I need to feel really strongly about something. In a poem I try to distill an emotion or what seems to me to be an insight. Inevitably some level of irony and self-deprecation seep in. I collect words and phrases then try to go through and ruthlessly cut out lots of them. Sometimes I let myself play with a lot of allitration or internal rhyme but I have noticed those ones are never popular with anyone so mosly I go for images or emotions but as bare of words as I can. 

I think a poem should be the shortest possible distance between a thought and a communication. It should be intimate, you have to let me get into your personal space if we are going to share a poem. I’m not sure it’s always been that way but to me it’s the closest I can get to understanding what the point of a poem is in 2022. It’s a form of intimacy, welcome to my quirky world.

I think musicians, visual artists and especially dancers are way more cool than poets, but this is all I have. Some rare poets take my breath away to the point where I start to change my mind. The aim is to be one of those poets, to be the reason why poetry is never going to be over.

Hutt St Centre is a place of connection and support, where people at risk of or experiencing homelessness are empowered to rebuild their lives, rediscover their identities and reunite with those who love them. For National Homelessness Week (August 1 – 7) the Centre’s Walk a Mile in My Boots Challenge provides South Australians the opportunity to step out and support people experiencing homelessness. Stef will walk this year as lucky #13, where they have already attained “diamond boot” level.

Riddled with Arrows 5.2: “Spotlight 2022”
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