under-cover takeover

The nights are cold. My feet are cold. I’m sitting up in bed as I write this, pinioned between my laptop and a thick stack of cushions, swathed so comprehensively in duvet that only my head and hands emerge, to read and to type. It’s 11.08pm. Sleepily, unassumingly, under cover of darkness, I’m taking over. 

I’ve been trying for the last two days to collect my thoughts into something coherent, cool and polished enough to publish here, in public, but I’m aware that that’s against the spirit of this project. So instead, dear Antidiarists, I’ll write to you as if I’m writing in my diary, or in an email draft, or Notes app note, or blank google doc – I have many of these, filled with broken links, shorn off sentences, inscrutable scribbles, drafts of poems that’ll never be written. Some samples, real ones, from my private stash: 

14.10.2020 looking smaller and smaller and more beautiful as

07.10.2020 i just needed something to enslipperify my gross little brain

28.08.2020 […] entrance blisters a hole in the film like a hot poker, blaring filth and rage

15.08.2020 identity related to suffering

02.08.2020 […]reorganising my life!!! 

07.07.2020 desperation as I watch, the unsatisfiable needs of the[…]

05.06.2020 get on the zoom. then

13.05.2020 Part of what feels difficult is that I feel desperate to leave

It feels weird and vulnerable to share this stuff that I write down in private moments — in bed, in the bathroom, on the bus, in meetings when I’m supposed to be concentrating on something else. My phone or notebook might be balanced on or nestled into an unlikely part of my body; my body might be in a state that I wouldn’t choose to show to anyone. This is the intimate stuff of my life. And simultaneously, showing you these words in this context is no risk at all. You’re on the other end of an internet connection, and there’s very little you can do to me from there. What we’re left with is the compelling contradiction that I think is the genius of Antidiary: intimacy and remoteness. Profoundly safe, yet a bit terrifying, a bit thrilling. I’m looking forward to inhabiting this space, in this year of social distancing, atomisation, isolation, in these viral times. We’ll be in each other’s company — not too close and not too far away, sharing things we wouldn’t usually share. 

I’m so filled with gratitude and mild overwhelm to be the eponymous Writer of this Writer Takeover of the Antidiary project for the Festival of Looking – which, if you don’t know, is 15th-18th October 2020. I’ll be reflecting on the near-ness and far-ness of racism and what it’s like to share writing about race in public. I’ll share my manifesto on shattering the twin solitudes of writing and recovering from mental illness. I’ll explore what we see when we look into the internet and what happens when the internet looks back at us. And I’ll share some writing prompts along the way — hopefully things that will nudge you, dear Antidiarists, in an interesting direction. 

One last thing before I retreat under the covers completely —  a low-effort late night prompt for you. 

Find a morsel of writing you’ve tucked away in your email drafts, Notes app or other liminal space. Treat it as found poetry. Add the date. Post it. 



Josephine Carter was born and raised in Folkestone. Starting out as a passionate teenage poet in Folkestone’s arts scene, she was a recipient of the Foyles Young Poet Award in 2015, and remains a dedicated (although usually secretive) diarist, essayist and amateur person of letters. This year she was an organiser of Black Men are Good, a celebration of Black History Month in Folkestone. She is a bit intense about the Canadian poetess Anne Carson, dancing, her bike, and trying to become an artist-activist as a very shy person. 

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