Across our SheTalks events over the past few years we have heard from a number of women who are survivors of violence, sometimes at the hands of those who they love the most. A. Alexon is one such woman. After a decade of abuse Alexon was left emotionally and psychologically harmed. When she turned to police, social workers, the courts for assistance they all failed her. To heal she sought support elsewhere through women’s groups and began to write poetry about her experiences. That poetry was published in 1997 as Broken teapots.
Now, over twenty years on A. Alexon has returned to add new poetry to Broken teapots and that manuscript is currently under review. However, we are fortunate that this Surrey-based poet, artist and educator will be exhibiting her work at Kwantlen Polytechnic University in the first week of November. In this visual/verbal presentation, Broken Teapots, Alexon explores in charcoal, pastel, and graphite the quotidian – those everyday objects within our domestic spaces that we consider ordinary, comforting, familiar, and innocent – and she juxtaposes these objects with her voice – the voice of an abused woman – via her disturbing poetry. Thus, she illustrates the disjunct between our perceptions of family and home as synonymous with love, nurturing, and even beauty, and the reality that for abused women and their children, home is not a safe place and family relationships can be threatening and perilous. Mounted on cutting boards, serving trays and cookie sheets her art conveys the domestic, not as a safe haven, but as a place of danger.
Alexon is a personal friend of mine, I have witnessed the damage done to her psyche and her health by the violence she survived. I have also watched as she deals daily with the results of that survival. The violence is over but the harm is done. Yet she pushes through to raise awareness of the issue of interpersonal violence through public readings and art. Through her creativity those who have luckily never experienced such violence can be brought into the very necessary conversations we all need to have about relationship abuse. I teach a course entitled Gender, Violence and Resistance. Each delivery includes students reading some poems from Broken teapots, the specificity of Alexon’s language, the emotions that are palpable, bring a personal connection and experience to my classes, which, for some, is also close to home.
The show is on from October 30th to November 4th in the art gallery just outside the library at KPU’s Surrey campus on 72nd Ave. Pop in, you will be moved.
Our children come to you
rosy cheeked carefree
on Thursday afternoons
And the following Monday
you send them back
with anguished thoughts and contemptuous tongues
Your hatred of me hissing through their lips
And side glances, defiant, caustic
there had been love
and trust in me,
there is disbelieving.
I scramble to undo and repair,
writhing through all their shame of love
With all of my desperate internal tears,
I try to bathe them
clean and whole again
To the next time
He poisons the apples