Blueprinted girl rolled out wide to inspect
already torn, no one protects — and why
should this one be tasked to care or respect,
question a purpose plans specify
in graphic detail with letters precise,
rapidly rendered, educated men’s
advice? This one, a traveler, enticed
into Romanesque curves will spend seasons
deciphering lavender blue words,
countless hands he can’t forget having seen.
This one asks questions. Response never heard,
your accounts of what really occurred. Then
he says, his turn, inside walls he will wreck —
you will rebuild, dollhouse architect.
Dollhouse Architect, annotated:
I tweeted this today: it’s weird how you get used to broken things. It was in reference to my computer, almost nine years old and quickly expiring from keeping up with my workload. Every day at some point it flashed “disk almost full.” Some days it was so slow doing the work for my journal that I would just give up and try again another day. Today, I broke down and upgraded, and my online life is suddenly efficient and relatively stressless.
The tweet, though, immediately struck me as being about much more than computers. As a human, a survivor, as we all are of something or another or many things, we get used to our broken things – even a spirit. We forget that often life is fixable, upgradable from the rituals of surviving to a place where we can flourish. It’s not an overnight fix – though for me buying a computer wasn’t either. It required work and sacrifice. Fixing the soul is like this, too.
This analogy struck me because I have made a life out of broken things. I made my independence from an abusive upbringing through stripping – and my broken body secured that for me. I have published a lot of writing on that subject including a sonnet today in Trampset about how I used to strip to Just What I Needed by Ric Ocasek, and he was a comforting voice, a ritual in a chaotic time. You can read that here: https://trampset.org/just-what-you-needed-51908adbc572
I’ve been reading poetry for my journal this month filling up rooms of the Pink Plastic House a tiny journal in 2020 with poetry. I’ve had such a response I’m already reading for August of next year. Each poem I accept, I sign my name and the title I use for myself in the journal, which is “Dollhouse Architect.” I didn’t give myself that name. Someone else did. Long before there was a journal or even the chapbook that preceded it and for which it is named.
Dollhouse architect was a title given to a broken girl who didn’t even have a book of her own yet, not even her poetry dollhouse. I had a manuscript and a dream of one, and I confided this dream to a person who felt like a mentor and a champion. He proffered this title to me and I tingled at the sound of it in my dollhouse-loving veins. It sounded like a title I should be proud of – being powerful in a way that I wanted to be, an architect in a whimsical way that fit my personality.
It also felt a little condescending and suspect to me because I didn’t feel I’d earned the title – for the reasons stated above. Though I could see myself being such a character, I was not, in fact, yet an architect of my poetry dollhouse. For whatever reasons it was said to me, it wasn’t me yet. It was aspirational, and something I very much wanted to be. It made me believe in him more than I believed in myself, and perhaps that was the point.
I would go on to publish that book Pink Plastic House with Maverick Duck Press. Never would I have imagined that this book would resonate the way it did and give me the platform to start its namesake journal, Pink Plastic House a tiny journal, but it truly did. It started out as a Russian nesting doll journal inside of a bigger journal. Like myself it grew, and it required my being able to do the physical homework of a journal, the posting, designing the aesthetic in addition to the the curating I was already doing. So it moved to its current location in a pink plastic neighborhood of my design: https://kristingarth.com/pink-plastic-house-a-tiny-journal/
Now, in addition to maintaining the site myself on my own website, the Pink Plastic House a tiny journal has a vacation Instagram dreamhouse at @pinkplastichouse, and I’m taking my own Barbie photography to accompany the poetry I accept. This is an evolution of the journal which started with me using sharable art produced by others. You can see a couple of examples of my work here from two new featured rooms of poetry CORNER and DRIVEWAY:
Each evolution of this journal has been a sign of my growth as an artist, an editor, a publisher and a human. Having to take on the full responsibility for the journal necessitated me learning to become more proficient at tech (still so much to learn), prioritizing to have better equipment (like the new computer this week), becoming more organized. It’s been a hard road but one that has made a womanchild grow up a bit in some ways but also become more in touch with the innocence of her creativity and her vision. Doing things yourself is not easy, but you find out who you are and you learn talents and skills that you didn’t know you had. I wouldn’t have started taking these Barbie photographs if I hadn’t taken the first steps of taking on ownership of all the responsibilities of having a poetry journal.
I sign Dollhouse Architect to my emails, and now I feel that I am, in fact, that. Not because a boy ever called me that when I wasn’t – though I remain forever grateful that he did. It echoed into the emptiness inside me for a while until I could find the power to be that for myself.
It’s natural to seek validation from others. As an abused girl, without a good paternal figure in my life, I have sought validation from so many men. I’ve fetishized that validation. It’s something I will always struggle with, and I don’t pretend that I’m healed. I’m healing though. I am becoming more independent and powerful, and where I still seek validation I try to do so in healthier places.
There is a Pink Plastic House, and there is room for all of us there to grow from whatever stage in which our broken souls reside. Inside pink plastic walls, I became, at last, a dollhouse architect. You can get used to broken things, but you can also fix some of them or let them go. And when you can, it’s the most powerful feeling. Life is still full of challenges, but it gets a little more manageable, and you have a little more energy to make more changes and fix more breaks, change more bad patterns and heal. You can get used to feeling broken or you can do the work to be free.
Every day I write sonnets, take pictures, read submissions, become more myself publicly is a day I don’t need a daddy to tell me I’m a good writer or a dollhouse architect. I built this pink plastic place, and you don’t get to wreck it, neglect it, direct it, or me, for your entertainment. This house and career have taught me my value. This house and career are as strong as I ever thought you were in my womanchildishness, and I built them. That’s who I am, a dollhouse architect. I’m letting go of the broken things – even in myself.
If you would like to read Pink Plastic House the poetry book that started Pink Plastic House a tiny journal, you can order a copy from Maverick Duck Press or a signed or annotated copy from me (or any of my other books) at my website .
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