Kassandra is the victim of unsatisfied lust turned wrath. As the story goes, Apollo tries to buy her love by giving her the gift of foresight, of knowledge. When she refuses to give him what he wants, she is cursed with telling the truth and never being believed. In the end, she is raped and murdered. A tragedy that echoes. Mythology is full of women whose speech is compromised. Philomel, raped, has her tongue cut out. Echo is powerless to speak with her own words, can only repeat, her body eventually expiring. But Kassandra is a reminder that one doesn’t need to be speechless to be abused and unheard. She is the unheeded prophet. With no reception, her knowledge is a dumb burden, an endless torture she carries in her body. Her knowledge, like Eve’s, is cursed.

We are tired and confused. Scrolling through the world, as we do now, we can see that it is too big, and we too small. So we cling to the life-rafts of bracketed belief and the familiarity of its litany. Words, amorphous and ambiguous, are contextualized by the bodies that utter them, and our interpretations generate between the two, coloured by our empathies and suspicions. Beliefs are tinged, the tinging is the belief. It has more to do with the speaker than the spoken, the relief of a frame on for our overstimulated senses.

How can the words of the individual make meaning amongst, and against, the crowd. Meanings belong to the many. It’s one word against another word. We’re post-truth so pick a team or suffer in silence. There’s safety in silence, perhaps for a little while before the whole world burns. Inside the noise are the wriggling repetitions of prophecies, and we become numb to them, lose confidence in our capacity to be sure, and soon it is too late to listen. Anger becomes the last infertile expression of anxiety.

When all notion of truth fails, wordless violence erupts out of the tension between what is and what we understand. To speak out you have to open your mouth, open yourself and choose vulnerability. The world is heating up and as everything melts and definitions are blurred it is easy to resent the ones who spoke up and said they knew, as much as the ones who didn’t. We are as afraid of knowing as we are of not knowing. Fear the tap-root of violence, the curse of Kassandra is the curse of being untrusted amongst the afraid, and isn’t it endemic.

In the shadow of #metoo and ‘fake news’, Abridged: Kassandra explores the tension between truth and belief and the violence of what it generates. Abridged is looking for poetry and art that explores belief, truth and the violence that exists in the gaps between them. You can send up to three poems, though please note this issue is A5 sized when considering length. Art should be A5 sized and 300dpi or above resolution. Send submissions to Deadline for submissions is 11th October 2019. Please put your name on your emails otherwise we may think it’s spam.

Image by Bastard Turpin. See for more of thir work.

Abridged is supported by The Arts Council of Northern Ireland

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