Poo poet Scott Manley Hadley (SMH) chats to some writers about poo. Let’s imagine them sat in a row of cubicles, each with their trousers around their ankles and their bare buttocks pressed against cold plastic.
These writers are: Reuben (R); Karina Bush (KB), writer of poetry collections Maiden (48th Street Press) and 50 Euro (Bareback Press); Lois McEwan (LM), the journalist, short story writer and yoga teacher; and the semi-anonymous writer behind Rivka Deadpebble & Ikeb Marrow (RD). Enjoy.
SMH: Have you ever written – in published or unpublished writing – a scene where someone does a poo?
R, LM & KB: Yes.
SMH: Rivka, why not?
RD: I have certainly written about poo, made references to it, just not the act of defecating.
SMH: Seriously, why not? Have you written an eating scene? Where does that food go?
RD: Not sure I’m a “scene” writer. I think the shit goes on the food? “I knew what side my bread was golden-shat on.” “I could spend the rest of my life tasting and chewing and shitting. In fact, I just might.”
SMH: Are you writing like fantasy or science fiction stuff where people don’t need to poo due to either like magic or no wastage diets or something?
RD: Yes, I do write fantasy, but no shit exists in my universes. I’m not sure if I ever wrote about people breathing either, but they breath. “How will he know what to keep to use another day and what to digest and shit out?” I consider shit to be more a building block. “Sort of like if James Dean, Mickey Rourke and Val Kilmer all took a shit in the same bucket and Judy Chicago, while strung out on meth, sculpted the shit into my lover.” Oh wait, as I search for “shit” in my last book, it appears I have referenced ferrets defecating and breathing. “The ferrets took shits like other mammals took breaths.” Maybe I’m in some serious denial?
SMH: So, Reuben, Karina, Lois, is the shitting you write about usually exceptional/unhealthy or regular/healthy?
LM: Forced out during childbirth in front of two doctors, a midwife and spouse.
R: It was a hundred bald blind ferret kits plopping out a rosebud like a goat’s shit.
KB: It was a dog. Very unhealthy.
SMH: Was the shitting you wrote about part of a larger work or the work in itself?
R & LM: Part of a larger work.
KB: The story was entirely about the dogshite.
SMH: OK, back to the group. Has your writing process ever been interrupted by needing to go for a poo? If yes, please give details.
LM: Don’t recall.
R: Yes, when walking for the words, sometimes I get the urge to poo and become so fixated upon denying the poo its natural life cycle that I forget all about words and become all about the poo.
KB: Never. I’m a lady. I don’t do that.
RD: Ok, here I’m refusing you. I am a lady of mystery and I intend on staying as such. “You’re a very shitty, unappreciative cock golem and I’m sorry I ever created you.”
SMH: Do you read while pooing? If yes, what? If no, what do you do?
LM: Yes. Philosophy.
RD: Yes. Usually poems because they’re shorter.
R: Sometimes but not currently as Hanoian ass hoses are so unruly that the pages would soon return to pulp.
KB: Again. Irrelevant to me.
SMH: Have you ever wiped the poo from your arse with paper with writing on it? What did it say? The brand name of a toilet paper company DOES COUNT, yes, so please tell me that.
KB: Again irrelevant.
R: Nice brand names such as Folvara, Lorpax, Whirlso, and Traga.
RD: Like Trump’s tweets, I have a line for all these questions: “I’d start on Etsy in safety, working on my tasks in private, spinning poems into gold, counting poems into gold, shitting gold and calling it “my glad little calling” to spread on my daily bread, amen.”
SMH: Name an iconic pooing scene from literature. If you can’t, name an iconic sex scene in literature and then reflect on whether you poo or make love more in real life and consider the way you think about the world.
KB: Trainspotting shite disaster.
LM: DFW’s The Suffering Channel. Has to be the ultimate. Also Kingsley Amis constipation scenes in The Old Devils.
R: Bloom on the shitter wiping his arse with half of the paper’s prize story.
RD: Ok, I’m Jeff Sessions. I don’t recall, but searching through the PDF I found “Remember how later that night we both suffered terrible diarrhea [sic] (yours, of course, much worse than mine) and how there was only one toilet in the house? How we alternated using it and how sometimes we couldn’t wait for the other to finish? How we had no choice but to use the bathtub and our underpants?” But I didn’t lie, I just didn’t recall.
SMH: (sarcastic) Thanks for none of you mentioning previous #fecalfridays posts. (earnest again) Would you like there to be more mentions of poo in literature? Whatever your response, why?
RD: I don’t care.
LM: Yes, why not, it’s part of life.
R: Yes. Food and eating is discussed with gusto yet the other end neglected. What kind of world leaves a character’s post-prandial satisfaction at the table? It is false and awful.
KB: Not really. It should remain hidden.
SMH: Do you have any personal poo-related anecdotes that you tell on a regular basis?
KB, RD & LM: No.
SMH: Tell me what your favourite children’s book franchise is. (e.g. Harry Potter, Anne of Green Gables, Lord of the Rings, Twilight, Famous Five, whatever). Do you remember anyone shitting in any of these? No, you don’t, because no one ever does. Do you feel that the absence of normalised pooing in children’s literature makes us feel that we are unnatural in our bowel movements and thus grow up disgusted and repressed and uncomfortable talking about something that most of us do every day?
R: It probably causes bowel cancer, coprophilic shame, and other paraphilias associated with Enid Blyton and JRR Tolkien.
KB: Famous Five. I don’t recall any of this business. It should remain repressed.
LM: Yes, I speculated obsessively on the lack of toilet in some shed the Famous Five were imprisoned in – where did they pee? In the end I realised the Famous Five did not piss or shit, not even Timmy the dog.
RD: I didn’t have access to many children’s books when I was a child, just adult books. I don’t recall shitting, but perhaps my mind is not what it used to be. My son has a book “Poop Happened!: A History of the World from the Bottom Up.” It was a gift from a family member. When they had a child, I responded in kind. And ten minutes after I wrote this reply, I realize that the children’s book has even made it into my own: “goosenecks smeared with some high-grade shit”
SMH: Christ, the fact that most people feel more comfortable talking about their sex lives than their pooing lives – to me – reeks of a society in denial of its own base self. Do you agree?
R & LM: Yes.
KB & RD: No.
SMH: Describe your most recent poo.
KB: You are a pervert.
R: Full and hearty with a slim tail.
LM: Satisfactory, bit fast.
RD: “I returned much later all that remained were leather specks and bone splinters, piled like magic refried beans, like a pile of runny shit caught in a rainstorm.”
SMH: Now you’ve definitely written about pooing and your response, however brief, will be included in Queen Mobs Teahouse’s #FecalFridays. Congratulations. Any other comments to add?
RD: I don’t know, all this is just recycled shit from my book from several years ago “every time you open your mouth its [sic] like a strobe light taking a shit in a bucket.” “Meaning you’re swallowing the same ancient, recycled shit and piss that seeped into the wells that all the generations drank before you.” This survey makes me feel like I’m living in the past. “hindsight takes an enormous shit on his historical reconstruction and rubs his face in it.”
LM: You are shitting me.
R: Whilst getting tested for poisons in a local hospital, a nurse asked about the consistency of my leavings yet could not stymie their embarrassed giggles while doing so. On the other hand, one of my girlfriend’s students has created a super hero called megapoopman who is a shit who brings shit everywhere and lets everyone shit better and helps him when he is constipated. I have hope for the future.
KB: I feel violated by these questions.
SMH: On a scale of 1 to 10, with one being constipated and 10 being clear, watery, diarrhoea, how much did you enjoy this conversation?
SMH: 1? Ouch. Everyone else, thanks.
Scott Manley Hadley is not fine and blogs at TriumphoftheNow.com