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Writing is like a tap I can’t turn off

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Carlene Spencer started writing poetry to cope with the frustrations of a rocky romance.

She said they were dating; her boyfriend “Hash” said they were just friends.

“He said he'd be ready to commit in 2017,” Ms Spencer said. “It was 2013. His life had a plan. We were together for three years, and broke up a year ago.

“It wasn't a bad relationship; it was ‘interesting'; every time there was a situation a poem came out of it.”

She wrote about the good times, the confusion between them, their arguments and their eventual break-up [See sidebar].

She had more than 20 poems by the time she and Hash parted ways. They became the basis for her poetry book, Addicted to Hash — The Man, Not The Drug.

The Royal Gazette senior sales and marketing account executive will sign copies at Brown & Company starting at 11am today.

She likened her situation to that of Grammy Award-winning singer Sam Smith.

“At the Grammy Awards, Sam Smith thanked his ex-boyfriend for breaking his heart and inspiring his album,” Ms Spencer said. “I know just how he feels because that's what happened here.”

She wears a wristband that says, I am 100 per cent responsible. It's a philosophy she lives by.

“I feel no blame, hatred or ill will towards Hash,” she said. “I feel 100 per cent responsible.”

She's received an overwhelmingly positive response from women who read her work. “People would say, ‘Oh my God, this was me! It sounds like you're writing my life story!',” Ms Spencer said.

She sees the book as a way to help others get through challenging experiences. To this end, she added journal space for readers to record their thoughts after each poem.

“I want to show that we all go through our different relationships, and we can come out on top of that,” she said. “There is a light at the end of the tunnel.”

At first, Ms Spencer found putting herself out there a bit scary, but after realising how common her experiences were, she thought, ‘Why not?'.

“I am being brave,” she said. “For one thing, it is Bermuda. Hash is aware I've written this. He hasn't read most of it, but he trusts the process. It was very much a private relationship.

“The book is my perception and feelings. If you asked him his version, it would probably be different.”

Her advice to other women in “interesting” relationships is go with your feelings.

“They are your guiding post,” she said.

“Make decisions that make you feel good, as with all relationships. Some things we do and regret, but that is not a bad thing, but an opportunity to learn and grow. I learnt so much through this relationship with Hash.”

Her friend and co-worker, Chantelle Emery, designed the book's cover, which features a marijuana plant.

“She did her research and created an awesome cover,” said Ms Spencer.

Although the book was only released this week, the title has already generated some misconceptions.

“People were online questioning what the title really means,” she said. “The title is a play on words. ‘Hash' is a portion of my ex-boyfriend's name.”

The poetry didn't stop when she stopped seeing Hash.

“It's still flowing,” she said. “It's like a tap I can't turn off. Verses come to me at different times. Sometimes they come to me at work and I have to wait until I get home to write them down.”

She is currently working on a spoken-word album to go with the book.

“I think I will do my first spoken-word performance at Chewstick,” she said. “That is my dream. I didn't want to do it until the book had been released.”

She has ideas for another book of poetry, but is concentrating on finishing a novel she has been working on for some time.

She writes under the pen name Zavane.

“Zavane is my middle name and means ‘strong girl' in Swahili,” she said. “I am going to write everything under that name.”

Today, she is in the best kind of relationship.

“I have solidified the relationship with myself,” she said. “I know myself through and through; anything that comes after that is only a bonus. This relationship taught me to love me.”

• Learn more on Instagram: Zavane.love.

Follow your feelings: poet Carlene Spencer advises other women to make decisions that make you feel good (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)
Rocky romance: Carlene Spencer with her new book, Addicted to Hash - The Man, Not the Drug. The poems were inspired by a former relationship (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)
<p>No regrets</p>

Many of Carlene Spencer’s poems sprang out of arguments between herself and her former boyfriend, Hash. The relationship was a learning experience for the author who, despite the ending, doesn’t regret it at all. She wrote this poem after one argument in which she realised that his shortcomings were not a reflection of who she was.

I A M A

Queen

I’m an angry black woman

That’s what he said

I be rolling my eyes

And shaking my head

Moving with attitude

Behaviour not exhibited by a queen

I’m just f*&king angry and downright mean

I’m not angry I say

And if I am at times, it’s you who made me this way

It’s more like hurt

I say and look away

Can’t let him see my eyes

Because they’d tell all

They’d show that his words hurt like hell

And made me feel real small

As I compose myself and turn to walk away

I think these words I know I’ll never say

I am a queen and you had me

I loved you like no other

I sacrificed and toiled

Never expecting much

Let alone to be spoiled

I am a queen, yes, I mean me!

It was you my love

The king who wouldn’t be

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Published December 24, 2015 at 8:00 am (Updated December 24, 2015 at 8:25 am)

Writing is like a tap I can’t turn off

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