This is an on-going series that investigates Bella Horlor’s new role as a young mother. An artist and poet, Horlor shares the banal quandaries that exist between artistic and maternal labour.
He is old and grey and barely put together. I think he is wearing a zany hand knit jumper and loafers. I’ve seen him laughing amicably at my reading and nodding along.
I’m standing here holding a paper cup of pop. Well at the moment it’s probably 60% pop. It’s rapidly becoming a spittoon filled by his manic anecdote about Susan Sontag.
He’s never heard of me but he likes my work. I’m not pretentious- I’m easy.
I have very pretty eyes. Stunning. So round. Warm.
I’m awfully lucky as a pregnant woman; I don’t appear to be very large at all.
Have I ever heard of an epidural? His wife had one of those. He recommends it profusely. Is it a boy or a girl? Are we going to try cloth nappies? You need about 36; 12 for the day, 12 in the wash, and 12 on the line.
My partner is drinking a beer silently as an elbow systematically shuts him out.
Are we married? Planning to be married? No? Just as well.
Would I like to have coffee with him sometime to discuss work? Here is his card complete with Wikipedia page link. I should look him up because he can’t believe I’ve never heard of him. He’s kind of famous. Like Lemon and Paeroa.
He likes to be aware of new talent.
He has pawed my books on the trestle table- although he hasn’t bought one. Doesn’t have any money on him. I should buy one of his books. How come I haven’t heard of him? That’s amazing that I haven’t heard of him. Am I uneducated? Do I read at all? Who are my teachers? They must be awful. He has to go because he’s very busy and it’s unusual for him to stick around at these things.
I see him tap another female writer on the shoulder on his way out. I overhear the words ‘talented’ and ‘support’ and ‘coffee.’ Another card goes out. So much pretty talent here today.
There is a group of three mean in polo shirts standing around the merch. A potential buyer picks up one of my books.
Polo 1 takes it off him talking about how the binding will never last, it’s too stiff, and the pages will crack. Polo 2 and Polo 3 nod in solemn unison.
Polo 1 picks up one of his own books and places it in the buyer’s still outstretched hands. The buyer nods, pays, and holds the book casually against his chest, the Author photo looks at me from the back cover. Black and white with arms crossed; The ‘Jack Kerouac-was-my-uncle’ kind of pose.
I get an email over the next few days.
“You’re a microphone poet/ (they read nothing).”
“You only read chick lit.”
“You have abysmally ignorant teachers.”
“You spend so much writing your own masterpieces you don’t have to read other writers.”
“You spend a lot of time texting numerous friends the extraordinary trivia of your day.”
I feel like Sylvia Plath’s oven.