Fringe World Review | If My Body Was A Poem

MY BODY POEM MADDIE GODFREYIf My Body Was A Poem | Paper Mountain | Until Jan 26 | ★ ★ ★ ★ 

If my body was a poem, it’d have all the vigour and verve of Maddie Godfrey’s debut Fringe World show, If My Body Was A Poem. In this bold work, Godfrey examines body shaming, body positivity, love, childhood, hope, despair, rape culture and the intersectionality of feminism. Quite a tall order, yes, but one Godfrey tackled and presented with such aplomb that you forget, just for a moment, that this young Perth poet is only 21.

Godfrey begins this hour long spoken word / performance poetry piece explaining how she is ‘painted by privilege’. While she ‘wouldn’t hold any weapons’, it soon becomes apparent that she does: her body and voice are the tools with which she tackles a burgeoning amount of issues that face women in these times. And while Godfrey acknowledges that there are ‘days where the duvet is the only companion’ here, on this stage, Godfrey treats her language as a duvet she wraps around the audience, drawing them in to a sanctuary of sorts: a safe place for the collected souls.

The personal connection Godfrey creates with the audience is commendable. She counts individual identifiers on her body – freckles, moles, tattoos – exposing her self in an accumulation of numbers. She then segues into recounting her relationship with her father, a mathematician. He told her how she was a Venn Diagram of gender, both male and female. The symbology employed here is particularly poignant, touching and powerful: if only all of us were raised by such an inspirational father.

Highlight of the show would have to be a sequence where Godfrey reads out a post-it note litany of probable possibilities, instances that cover love, hate and sexual assault. These post-it notes then mark the body like scars, scattered in an accumulative pattern of acknowledgement and ownership. But the beauty comes when Godfrey discards them in an act of silence – a common trope in this spoken word show, the importance of silence – adorning the wall of Paper Mountain with her unwanted awards for participation. Then, engulfed in her own shadow, she owns them…and moves on.

The ending? Honestly, I was in tears. And I wasn’t alone. Godfrey shows us how to ‘continue to exist on the days we do not want to’. Her final monologue has such strength and vulnerability that to say it is moving is an understatement. To say it can move a (Paper) Mountain is more accurate. If the show is about promoting body positivity, then Godfrey makes you want to dance, loving the way you take up space.

This is the kind of shows you can wrap your arms around. It will then hug you back in a way that is tight, empowering and above all else, positive. A brave show from one Perth’s rising literary talents.

Scott-Patrick Mitchell

Image:- Leni Battalis

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