Emily Berry on Sigmund Freud
about Emily Berry
Emily Berry writes poems and other things. Her debut book of poetry, Dear Boy (Faber & Faber, 2013) won the Forward Prize for Best First Collection and the Hawthornden Prize. She is a contributor to The Breakfast Bible (Bloomsbury, 2013), a compendium of breakfasts. www.emilyberry.co.uk
Emily Berry on her work about Sigmund Freud'For my commission on Freud I will be making poems collaged from material found in his personal writings (such as his love letters to his wife before they married), as well as drawing on my own interest in psychoanalysis. The aim is to create poems that talk like Freud, even if what they are saying is not quite what the ‘great man’ intended.'
The below poem, written prior to the commission, addresses some of the same themes Emily will be exploring in her Freud poems. Previously published in Poetry magazine (Chicago)
The Forms of Resistance
by Emily Berry
Is this mountain all rock, or are there any villages on it?
These are some of the things I said to her.
We bake because it is a way of overcoming.
In the journey of zest, I see myself.
On the news every day people are standing up screaming
or lying down screaming while others remain calm.
She pointed out that I had not made eye contact
with her at all. Then I cried properly in a short burst.
This is the worst example of any circumstance ever,
noted a journalist in his notebook.
Let butter and chocolate be a wish not to die!
I implored the bain-marie. She likened me to a sieve.
I clutch all my poems to my chest and count them
again and again. I am kneeling like a small dog.
What’s going on with this modern world
and the right wife not even knowing
what the left wife is doing? Now all you have to do
is cut off the legs. After an absence, after a hard task,
after the way the hand turns, like this —
There was so much I couldn’t contain.
She asked me how I was feeling in my body
at this moment; I said tense in my whole trunk area.
A strong smell of white wine. She said it came from
an impulse that she often used to have when she first
started practicing. She said she believed feelings
are held in the body. She asked me what was going on
with my breath and I realized I was sort of holding it.
Like the boxes in the cupboard. “Enough” can get bigger.
How much bigger, though? When I say
I’ve had enough, how will you know when to stop?