If you expect anything different from the title, remember it’s a homage to Joan Didion’s painful and serious The Year of Magical Thinking. Unlike Didion, Watkins didn’t lose a partner and child, but his year of self-reflection confronts the shame that left him craving intimacy but terrified to find it because it hurt too much to feel.
Growing up Catholic in Ireland, Watkins identified as one of the last gay ashamed: men who grew up hiding their sexuality and taking lonely comfort in anonymous sex. We still have a way to move as a society, but we’re on the right track and hopefully the words gay and shame will never be connected for future generations.
With irresistible alliteration like “addicted to my dick” and the discovery that the anagram of his name perfect (you can figure it out), Wanking‘s poetry is funny and confronting, and his reflections about intimacy and fear are so real that you don’t need your own cock to recognise the hurt or grasp onto the hope.
Have no shame in watching Watkins self indulgence; it’s only awkward for a moment and you’ll leave feeling all the better for it.
More of Anne-Marie’s writing is at sometimesmelbourne.blogspot.com