Thursday, February 09, 2017

Kissing in public

You walk down Queens Road from Brighton station, heading for the sea, past Boots, the clocktower, Waterstones and Nationwide, on either side the megapubs that blossom at weekends and you can already see the sea, if you're lucky, winking. Past the Odeon and down the subway which always stinks of piss, but you can hold your nose, and you're there, on the seafront.

If you cross overland, so to speak, you'll see this statue pretty soon. Through its perforations you also see the sea. The kissing statue, or its proper title, Kiss Wall , by artist Bruce Williams says something about Brighton, that many tourists encounter it before they head for the pier and wander down the slope towards the beach cafes.

A friend has up on her wall a loveheart with the message, Never Forget How to Kiss.

For those of us who are single, kissing sometimes feels like ancient history. But the Kiss Wall reminds me, whenever I see it, of Edna St Vincent Millay's poem, What lips my lips have kissed, and where, and why (Sonnet XLIII), such an important poem to me that I did a tribute to it. Millay isn't afraid of admitting ageing, or being flakey (unremembered lads) or being sentimental (the rain / Is full of ghosts tonight that tap and sigh). Its last three lines make me want to weep, or at least try and track down that old rollerblader who chatted me up once in the eye hospital. Now if ever there's a task for the summer...

In her work, Millay writes about clothes, sex, and is utterly uncompromising. Read this advice To a Young Poet on the Academy of American Poets website.

Staying with the US, the Creative Review did a piece a few years ago on where the Make Love Not War slogan came from. Is it maybe a bit too 21st century to try and attribute authorship to a slogan? Nevertheless, it reminds me of how everything was opening out in that decade. More sentiment, maybe, but look at one of the slogans from Paris in May 1968:

"Beneath the cobblestones is the beach."

And finally, back to the Kiss Wall, another from Paris that says something about where we could go right now:

"The more I make love, the more I want to make the Revolution, the more I make the Revolution, the more I want to make love."