Issue 18, Who Else

Finding meaning in repetition

Hi friends,

We live in a time of repetition. With so little chance to travel, socialize, and explore as we might have done this year, our days have become small routines: trips to the shop, the park, the kitchen, the TV. Evening plans are hyped up by variations in dinner recipes, or old films landing on new streaming services, and it can be hard to feel like anything much is really happening. Are we living, or waiting for it to start again in earnest?

I have the same worry about writing – that I might just be recycling the same thoughts and hurts; that I don’t have anything new to say, just a habit I’m never sure how to kick; that I’m waiting for something bigger to happen.

Recently, I came across a poem by Crispin Best called ‘Who Else’, in his debut collection ‘Hello’ (published by Partus Press). Best is a poet based in London, as I am, and his poetry summons a pensive underside of life in the city, with all its modern and digital intersections, like scrolling through a Twitter feed of passing observations.

It’s a brilliant counter to feeling doubt over the worth of your output, or your routines. ‘Who Else’ treats every day as a sweet duty, one that falls to us without fanfare, but is worth experiencing all the same, if just because no-one else can do it for us: “i tell my computer i’m not a robot / when it asks / because who else is going to”. It’s in these small moments, even interfacing with an online form, that our own humanity can be truly revealed to us.

Best asks why it’s worth penning lines about the same old thing, and provides the same, eternal answer: “i tell the same stories / again and again / because who else is going to”.

We live in a time of withdrawal, of isolation. Even without the chance to be witnessed, or heard, as we go about our lives, the days are still worthwhile: “if a tree falls in a forest / that’s fine”.

Why tell us all this? Best, aptly, has the best answer for this: “who else is going to”?


WHO ELSE

by Crispin Best

i tell the same stories 
again and again
because who else is going to
and what are the builders making

apart from a racket
the black mould in my room makes it feel
like the wall is learning something

i tell my computer i’m not a robot
when it asks
because who else is going to

i can’t believe you thanked me
for sleeping in your bed

if a tree falls in a forest
that’s fine


Hen