In the Artwork Spotlight series of blog posts, The Layered Onion highlights a specific work by an artist in the community. Artists with lived mental and emotional health challenges show the power of art for mental health. These works range from short stories to visual art, music, poetry, and more! This is art that explores mental health. Today, Éloïse (Loulou) Armary (she/they) will share her upcoming poetry collection, Pink Goo.
Éloïse took the time to participate in a Q+A with The Layered Onion, but before we share the dialogue, here’s a little bit more about our artist:
Éloïse “Loulou” Armary is a French poet who writes about mental health, neurodiversity, social and climate issues, memories, queerness, and the strangeness of daily life. She is the co-host of the podcast Poetry to your Ears. Loulou is based in Brighton, UK. Pink Goo is their first poetry collection.
Éloïse participated in a Q&A with The Layered Onion, expanding further on her work:
Pink Goo is a collection of poems that explore what mental health is to Éloïse and the reality of living life in today’s world.
It is about a spiral down to anxiety and depression and the following journey to find peace. After trying to shed light on social injustice, sexual harassment, and the climate collapse, the poet finds herself in the darkness and explores many corners within herself, rough and soft. In the deep furrows of her mind, Éloïse finds a white canvas on which she paints with colours to lift her spirit while allowing nuances of grey to tell the depth of reality.
These poems aid the reader who wants to scream but doesn’t find the words. They are a balm to spread on trauma wounds. They care for the soul after a storm.
You are releasing a poetry collection, Pink Goo. Congratulations! My first question – how did you come up with the name?
Thank you! The title poem is a metaphor for my anxiety. I wrote it during a challenge I set for myself to write 21 poems in 21 days in December 2021. I got stuck mid-way through the challenge and started exploring unusual images. I loved that poem, people I read it to loved that poem. The name stuck with me. I knew my poetry collection would be named Pink Goo before I knew what else would be in it.
What topics do you explore in Pink Goo?
Pink Goo is everything mental health. It starts as anger against social injustice, eco-anxiety, and sexual trauma, then delves into chronic anxiety and depression. It’s a quest about my neurodivergent identity, an expression of moments of sensory overload, meltdowns, and anxiety attacks. It has a pamphlet about bipolar disorder, which is close to me. Mostly, it’s about how to find acceptance and where I dig up peace.
What first led you to poetry?
I started writing poetry as an extended form of journalling in high school. Sometimes, my emotions were so strong writing them in prosaic words didn’t feel right. I started skipping words to express myself faster and playing with images to articulate my feelings in a way that sounded true.
Where do you gather your inspiration from?
I am inspired by the intensity of my emotions, which is what I mainly write about. I draw into images of nature, colors, and senses to express how I feel. I recently started rooting myself in a community of poets and find endless inspiration from poets I know who I find so talented.
What are your favorite topics to write about?
I write about mental health, neurodiversity, and social and climate issues. I don’t really choose to write about these topics; I feel more like I have to in order to expel the intensity of my emotions. Lately, I am enjoying delving into topics of memories and queerness, exploring alternative realities, and writing based on senses rather than thoughts.
You also have a podcast, “Poetry to Your Ears” – what kind of topics do you cover? Where can folks go if they are interested in checking it out?
My co-host Tom and I interview contemporary poets and read out poems we find that tell of something new and meaningful. Our byline is ‘We celebrate poetry the way it is done today,’ because our podcast is not a poetry course that studies the theoretical structures of poetry. We don’t read the famous dead poets studied in school.
We found out that most poets we talked with didn’t like poetry before they [started] writing poetry. We want to know who writes poetry, what they write about, and what it can tell us about more significant subjects. When I say write, I also mean perform, since we feature many spoken word artists! We platform a diversity of poets from different backgrounds, especially marginalised ones. All the links to listen are here: www.linktr.ee/poetrytoyourears.
You are French, but you write in English. Why is that?
The first poems I wrote were in French, but when I met with my partner, who is British, I started writing poems in English. I loved the distance between the words and my thoughts and the easy wordplay that wasn’t constrained by the rules and rigidity in French that I inherited from school.
English being my second language, I make some mistakes that turn out to be poetic, which I can use as the base of a poem. I write a little bit of bilingual poetry, but since I moved to Brighton, UK, I found it hard to share it with an English-speaking audience. I want to explore bilingual poetry more, though.
Mental health, social topics, and the climate crisis are deep concepts that take a lot out of all of us living in 2022. “Goo” is the perfect word to describe that feeling of being stuck, of fighting your way forward.