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cathartic pillow talk by jean-sim ashman

Jean-Sim Ashman - my youth was difficult. I was bullied relentlessly and it negatively impacted my self-esteem, and ultimately led to my struggles with mental health. However, the older I got, the stronger I became because I found ways to cope with the bullying. Writing was the outlet I used to purge my emotions.


From the time I was in middle school up until high school, I wrote poems as a way to destress. Then I stopped writing poems for more than five years. I was busy working, doing other things. However, in my adulthood years, I faced some stressful times in my life, yet again, and I decided to turn back to writing. I had a bit of an early mid-life crisis, you could say. I wanted to push myself outside of what made me feel comfortable, so I wrote some more poems, and then I published everything I had written – from middle school up until my adult life. I decided to publish my work because I was hoping that my story would resonate with others, and that they could relate to my writing, so that they knew they weren't alone.


My book's inspiration came from everywhere – current affairs, love, heartbreak, nature. Some of the poems are about other people’s experiences. I would observe what my friends were going through and then I would write poems as though I was in their shoes. There’s a lot of personification in my work; metaphors too. I don’t want people to interpret my writing at face value. You need to dig deeper to understand the true meaning of my work.

I’m taking life one step at a time. I’m torn between getting back into film festivals (I produced and directed a film for an international film festival a few years ago) or writing another book. Film festivals are more time-consuming and I get more emotionally invested when making films for festivals because you pour so much energy, resources, time into making them. I enjoy writing because I get to do it at my own pace. Although writer’s block can definitely demotivate me.


Cathartic Pillow Talk features a collection of poems from my yesteryears. Not intended for the eyes of anyone but my own, I dove headfirst into a pool of unchartered waters, and decided to publish my work. Cathartic Pillow Talk features poems that are raw, edgy, and witty. For those capable of looking past the skin’s surface, you will find everything from heartbreak to current affairs laced in the diction.  

Cathartic Pillow Talk is divided into four sections - Hasra, Questioning, Prema and BecomingHasra features poems inspired by heartbreak, not only love- or romance-induced heartbreak, but also the heartbreak one experiences from sadness. Questioning is the inquisitive stage one experiences where they may question themselves, society, and so forth, as they try to find answers to what's going on in life. Prema is elevated or selfless love, the love one may have for their country, family, friends, God, and so on. 


Prema leads to Becoming, the last section of my book, which is the stage in life where one has reached their definition of optimal satisfaction. In other words, this is the stage where one is ready to turn over a new leaf and put their past behind them.


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cover image courtesy of @misssinterpreted