Poetry vs Reason

by Anika Pyle

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about

ABOUT THE SONG:

Queer/Query. To inquire. To ask. Queer. Oblique, outside, neither parallel nor right angled.

The word Queer is divisive for many, with its origins in hate speech and harassment and its inherent ambiguity. A Queer identity is unique to each person - the source of its praise and its persecution. We have a robust lexicon for gender and sexuality today that allows us to define our identities with more precision. Thus, some balk at the usage of the term Queer, asking "what the fuck does that even mean?"

I don't usually discuss my Queerness publicly. There are several reasons for this. One, I am attuned with my experience of sexuality and gender but I don't always know how to explain it and I haven't pinned down the terminology that sits just right with me. I know this is directly related to my privilege as a cisgendered hetero-presenting person. I am not in relationship with a spectrum of folx with varying sexual, romantic or gender identities so I haven't had to define this for myself or for others like those who are. I realize that is a position of privilege (albeit one that I desire to dismantle) and that I can even speak openly about this subject because of the tireless effort of so many justice and joy seekers in the LGBTQIA+ community and that everyday people still die in the fight for humanity and visibility. Two, I have feared that publicly exploring my identity quest (from olde French...to seek/ask) would be offensive to the struggle of the myriad souls for whom identity has been hard fought and extremely and historically dangerous. Expressing Queerness from the safety of my position seems potentially offensive in comparison to those who truly queer or rebuke all binaries through their visible, lived experience. Three, I have feared "the Queer police," worrying that I would have to be forthright about every sexual, romantic, or personal gender experience I have had in order to prove to the omnipresent Someone that I am not as straight as I seem. Thus, the lack of language, the fear of real harm, and the anxiety of perceived inauthenticity has kept me silent.

This song is about that struggle, as well as the struggle to regulate a deep sensitivity and emotional response to the world while staunchly rejecting the patriarchal notion that emotionality, softness and vulnerability are not strengths to be celebrated but qualities to be muted. Poetry vs Reason explores the grappling to both identify how I feel while being scrutinized for how I seem and making decisions founded on a wise-mind - a melange of both rational and emotional thought.

Poetry, to me, is Queer. It takes language and breaks it in half. It invents its own punctuation. It eradicates rules of presentation and texture. While it can be pretentious and exacting (ew), it can, honestly in its truth, be anything in form and substance and that is what has always attracted me to it. Poetry is having a multifaceted definition of oneself. Reason is understanding that your Self isn't created in a vacuum and we root our personhood in definition so we can not only better relate to not only ourselves, but also to the world, to others. Wisdom, for some, may be finding the balance.

So, I suppose this is a song about Queerness, speaking to questioning. While the line "I think I prefer kissing women to men" evokes a specific image, the reality is much more complex than that, going beyond the archaic "women" and "men" - being more poetry (Queer) than reason (binary). It extends beyond the limitations of binary notions of sex and gender and romance. It explores the capitalist, heteronormative ideas of relationship and begs the question would I (we) "be better off with me keeping it [my heart, my Self, my truth, my identity] close, shaping it into something I can hold?" As in, can one offer themselves to another or to the world without first defining themself for themselves? Either in their self-identity, self-esteem, self-understanding, self-sufficiency, or self-love?

I could tell you that I'm cisgendered while sometimes Queering the gender binary in self-presentation**, Pansexual, and Panromantic in a heterosexual relationship. But honestly I'm still negotiating that for myself and until I come into the language (which, maybe/probably will be a lifelong negotiation) I feel happy using the term Queer. For now, it allows me to say: I'm not exactly what meets the eye, I like/love/feel like so many different things and people, I'm a lot more Poetry than Reason.


**I changed the lyrics at the end of this song to "I'm a mess of a girl" /"You're a mess of a boy" from "I'm a mess of a girl" / "I'm a mess of a boy" because I do not identify as non-binary and I didn't want to assume that space on someone else's behalf/ to seem as if I was co-opting that identity. Although I do want to to note that I celebrate the spectrum of traditionally gendered emotions and presentations I, and that we all, experience. Changing the words to I'm/You're continues a dialogue of boy/girl which is to say, it continues the larger discourse and critique of a binary limiting of sex, gender, romance and relationship.

lyrics

Time to run the going's tough
I don't like it in the summer
Time to hide I fucked it up
Just can't seem to make it better

The end is never easy
Oh, but stalling makes it harder
I am love but you are lover
You don't deserve to watch me suffer

I'm a mess of a girl but I like to pretend
I'm straighter than all of the ways that I bend
I think I prefer kissing women to men
I am more Poetry than Reason

Guess I'll buy myself flowers
Guess I'll take myself out
I don't like spending money
To make myself happy

But I can't keep
Living alone in my doubt
I know it won't make me whole
Giving all this to you

Think we'd be better off
With me keeping it close
Shaping it into something
I can hold

I'm a mess of a girl but I like to pretend
I'm straighter than all of the ways that I bend
I think I prefer kissing women to men
I am more Poetry than Reason

I'm a mess of a girl but I'm trying to change
Don't wanna worry I don't wanna hate
I tend to ruin the good I create
But I'm trying to leave that behind me today

I know that hating myself don't make me easy to love
Been behind my whole life on trusting my heart, yeah
Hating myself don't make me easy to love
Give me a break man I'm trying
I'm trying so hard

Easy to love (I'm a mess of a girl)
Easy to love (You're a mess of a boy)
Easy to love (I'm a mess of a girl)
Easy to love (Don't fuck with my joy)

credits

released July 3, 2020
Words, Vocals & Guitar - Anika Pyle
Bass & Vocals - Lou Hanman
Guitar & Aux Percussion - Anthony Tinnirella
Drums - Dan Frelly

Recorded & Mixed by Matt Schimelfenig at The Bunk in Henryville, PA

Mastered by Justin Francis in Nashville, TN

NOTES!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Lou, Anthony, and Dan shaped this song into its beautiful, final form. You may recognize this line up from katie ellen and we took it as our challenge to diversify away from our natural instincts as a group to make something that was distinctly not (exactly) katie ellen. In some ways it really worked and in other ways our existing bond shines through! I really love it and I really love these people.

Justin is a GD legend. Beyond honored that he mastered this song, among others.

Matt is the most patient and creative person to work with. He brings out the best in people. I am grateful for everything we get to do together.

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Anika Pyle Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

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