A POEM BY CHANTELLE BLAGROVE
Interview By: Liron Davis
Photos By: Kristina Dittmar
Life imitates art. Or is it art that imitates life? Here at Fortnight, we are incredibly inspired by the powerful work of women – it shapes and influences the work that we do and the clothing we create. One such artist who inspires us is Chantelle Blagrove, a writer based in Toronto, who also happens to take beautiful self-portraits. Chantelle shares a poem with us and talks about the impetus behind this piece. We can’t help but feel a kinship between Chantelle’s poem and the photos she took of herself in our Vega Demi and High Waist in Clay.
FORTNIGHT: When did you write this poem?
CHANTELLE: I wrote this piece about two months ago. I met with a friend and we were talking about what we wanted to explore with our writing and I decided I wanted to write more about family, the female sexual experience and coming into your body. I’ve been going through a lot of bodily changes lately. There are days when I like it and there are other days when I find it scary. I felt really compelled to write about that.
FORTNIGHT: Was there a specific experience that prompted you to write it?
CHANTELLE: On days off I always try to write and complete at least one piece. On these days, I also try to have slow mornings – I don’t wake up from my alarm, I roll out of bed and I like to spend time looking in the mirror, either naked or in my underwear. I just dance and examine how my body moves and reacts to sound. I was planning to go to a coffee shop later that day and tried on two pairs of jeans, but wasn’t feeling it and I couldn’t get that feeling out of my head. So I just wrote a piece about what I was feeling that day with my body.
FORTNIGHT: How did you feel finishing this poem? Is this how you usually feel after finishing a piece of writing?
CHANTELLE: This is the first time that I think I actually liked a piece of my writing. I have this thing where I write exactly how I sound and then I have a bad habit that when I go back and edit it I want to scrap everything. This is the first time that I felt like this piece reflects my voice and that it was clean – that felt powerful.
FORTNIGHT: Is the woman in this piece a reflection of yourself?
CHANTELLE: 100%. I think I’m way more important than I am. Everything I write about is about myself. I can’t write fiction. I can’t write about other people.
FORTNIGHT: Is this woman someone you see yourself as today or in the future?
CHANTELLE: I think this woman is someone I’m evolving into. I’m definitely not there yet. The woman in the piece sounds like, “I see these folds and parts of my body that are changing, but I’m okay with it.” I think self-love and all those body positive things portrayed on Instagram look simpler than they are, like one day you come into your own. It’s a work in progress not just daily, but every minute. There are moments when I am dancing in the mirror and feel like hot shit and then later in the day I feel awful and lack confidence.
FORTNIGHT: I love the line “now she relinquishes her gullible control over the beauty of time” — what does giving up that control mean to you?
CHANTELLE: For many years I was a major control freak about how people see me and how people assume things about me based on what I write about. But I think when it comes to my body and aging I’m trying to realize that it is inevitable. Time is going to pass and my body is going to change so instead of me freaking out and say, not eating foods I love so I can look a certain way, I just need to let that go. My sense of relinquishing control is me saying that I don’t know what the fuck I’m doing half of the time and that is okay because the universe has me.
FORTNIGHT: Do you picture the woman in this poem eternally at peace with her body or continuously working to come to terms with it?
CHANTELLE: It is a continuous thing. The women in my family taught me that there is so much beauty in growing older and when you try to hold on to your youth, you are also holding on to that mentality. I’m sure it is easier said that done. I still have so much to learn and I’ll probably have different things to say when my hair starts turning grey and I get wrinkles. But there are so many stories in an older woman’s body. I see aging as a beautiful thing because of the people before me; they make it look pretty badass. I also think realizing your womanhood is a continual thing. I think you are continually growing into the woman you are supposed to be.