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We make this divine with blood mixed with wine,
Spilled out onto the streets and they bay for us
(Pray for us)
Too heathen both to face the lions
So they furnish us with weapons
We’ve forged ourselves,
And tell us
“Go ahead, make your fathers proud”
So before heaving crowd
We stand
Bloodied hand in bloodied hand
Sand hot beneath our toes
And you scream that they will not have forgiveness
And you scream that they too will fall
Because the gods are far too fickle
To choose sides for any length of time
And in the dust of two thousand years
We’ll find ourselves
The bones of us
Beneath a city whose name lasted longer than its people
Blood and wine baked into the earth
(I make this holy with a kiss)

(This is a poem inspired by a poem my friend wrote years ago and one of the lines always really stuck with me and I’ve always wanted to riff off of that.)

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A while ago I had the idea to print tactile, accessible art poems – art poems which anyone could afford to purchase and enjoy which still had a touch of uniqueness to it.

These never sold (that’s like, the story of my life) so the original prototypes still exist, and as such there’s only one of each poem, and only ever will be in this form.

The first poem going up for auction is a poem called ‘Home’. You can read it here: http://capoe.co.uk/home

This auction is raising money for Samaritans, a charity that has helped me in the past to see that things are solvable and it’s better to stick around. They save lives and do impossibly important work, and 100% of the final auction total will go direct to them.

The auction will run for seven days, Monday 8pm to Monday 8pm.

Here’s the link, feel free to share it around!

https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/392491351430

Thank you for taking the time to read, as always, and I hope you’ll consider bidding.

Love, Poe. xx

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I don’t know if I owe an apology, or an explanation, or anything. Navigating this new territory of being known, not necessarily by a large group of people, certainly, but a larger group of people than I’m used to, by a country mile, is difficult.

Perhaps you understand, if you’ve read the book, that my self esteem is… non-existent. And that I shy away from any form of criticism, however well intended, because I don’t have much sense of self, I know enough about myself to know I don’t really know much about myself at all.

Social awkwardness, it appears, extends to the internet, and with that sense of responsibility, of, oh shit, I have to stand for something and I’m definitely not the most qualified person in the room to do this – it’s a little scary.

I wrote my life down, reached in deep and pulled it all out, because I really hoped it would help somebody. But having read your messages, it seems there needs to be so much more work done than I even know how to begin. People are still finding themselves or their children in the same situation I was in all those years ago. It’s horrifying to read, and difficult to stomach. I hoped things were, at least, a little better now. But each message I read brings it all back in vivid detail, and whilst I appreciate people reaching out, it’s a tough one to deal with.

I suffer with depression a lot. More than I talked about in the book. I’m struggling with it right now, and people who knew me predicted this particular bout – there was the hype and the high of the book release, and then the fall of… nothing in my life really changing. I’d achieved my life goal, and I didn’t feel any different. It didn’t feel real. It still doesn’t. I keep expecting it to hit me, that I did the thing I always dreamed of doing, but it hasn’t yet. Maybe one day it will, or maybe this denial of accomplishment is going to dog me for a while yet.

A lot of bad stuff has been happening in my personal life too, stuff I don’t want to dredge up here because it is, as it should be, personal. But this last week especially has been particularly difficult, and piling on a bunch of personal failures to leave the house to do things I would have enjoyed, it’s become a bit of a spiral of badness.

I’m sure a few of you reading this can recognise that spiral, and how vicious and overwhelming it can become.

I’m trying to break out of it. I have a really great friend who is helping me, and of course, my family, who are always there to support me. But the world is so much bigger than my tiny bubble, and it seems meaner by the day. Watching the news, scrolling through Twitter, just trying to exist in this world, it feels like people have forgotten how to be kind.

Kindness is key.

I want to try be better. It’s horrible being inside every day with nothing to look forward to. And with the festive season coming, for the sake of the kids if nothing else, I need to put on a happy face. I want to keep writing, keep creating, and to try make this world a better place, no matter how small a change I make.

I’m sorry for my inconsistency recently. It’s really hard living in your own head when your own head (that you live in) is lying to you. There’s probably some deep philosophical word for that, but I failed Philosophy rather spectacularly, so don’t ask me.

Tomorrow I’m going to make a post about the first of what I hope will be a series of charity auctions to raise money for various causes I hope you’ll partake in. 100% of the money raised will go directly to the charities in question, and I want to focus on causes that matter to me, and who will help make the world a better place with any money raised. I really hope you’ll support me in this, despite my wobbliness. I’ll post a link when the first auction goes live.

I’m trying. I know it doesn’t seem like it. I know it seems like I’m ungrateful. But, it turns out, life doesn’t get magically better just because you have a book in Waterstones. It should, but it doesn’t.

So, I’m going to post this, and then try sleep off my migraine. I want to try to foster some sense of community despite my varied and uncoordinated posts, and I need your help with ideas on how to accomplish that. We are stronger together than we are apart, and I am willing to learn. It is incredibly hard for me to engage in social interaction, especially with my brain playing nasty tricks on me, but I’m willing to try, if you’ll let me.

Thank you for taking the time to read this, and I hope you have a great day.

Love, Poe. xx

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Sorry for not writing sooner, after the book came out, The Depressions™ hit really hard when it didn’t immediately change my life (that and the realisation that damn, I’m going to have to write another one at some point and that’s terrifying) – it’s weird going from a launch party in London to back and eating Weetabix at midnight because there’s literally nothing else to do, like some weird cereal gremlin.

So I wasn’t going to go to Nor-Con. I had my tickets and ops booked, but I wasn’t feeling it. It was supposed to be a celebration of my book coming out, my own little pat on the back from myself. But yeah, The Depressions™.

Thankfully, at the eleventh hour, I decided to go anyway! Literally, an hour before it would have been too late, I just… thought, well, I can be depressed at home or I can be depressed but also meet the team of Torchwood, so.

That’s what I did.

Nor-Con was the first con I ever went to, and it sparked my extreme love of them. There’s no mistake that it’s called the friendliest con on earth – it really is, and the guests they book are always ridiculously kind, perhaps this year even more than usual. The cosplay is always outstanding (note to self: cosplay next year!) and the art and merch is really interesting but will leave your bank account crying (worth it, why buy food when you can buy Good Omens artwork?).

So, I met Eve Myles, Gareth David Lloyd, and, nostagically, Wolf from Gladiators (who was wrestling with Instagram at the time, muscles will not save you from technology apparently).

I went with my dad, who I have dragged to conventions around the world (literally, we did NYCC and Ace in Chicago after I won the Spectrum Art Award) and he seems baffled but happy to be there.

Anyway, here are some photos!

I’m so, so glad I went, and the only things I would change would be: the music is way too loud for this autistic soul’s ears and tummy, and digital photo op options would be really nice, as I have to contend with my dad’s scanner now so I can use one of them as a profile pic. Other than that, no complaints at all!

Would definitely recommend to a friend, it’s only gotten better every year, and it’s an undiscovered gem of the convention scene. Definitely my favourite con to attend, there’s just no pressure and you can see and do everything, which is really rare.

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Yesterday I went to Waterstones in Lowestoft to go check out How To Be Autistic on the shelves. It was, and I keep saying this, but it does continue to be so, so, such a surreal experience.

The fact it officially releases tomorrow is terrifying and brilliant and the story will no longer be my own but will belong to everyone who reads it. The narrative is out of my hands and in yours – I hope you will be kind with it.

I can’t believe that as of tomorrow I’ll officially be a published author, a dream since I first started reading books. I don’t think it’s sunk in yet. It’s just too incredible to be true.

I really hope you enjoy the book. If you pick it up or if it arrives tomorrow, feel free to tag me in a picture on Instagram or Twitter – my username is smallreprieves on both. I’d love to see it.

Thank you for supporting me and for making this a reality.

I’m still expecting to wake up any moment.

Poe xx

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“Maybe it’s just me, but I’ve found that my relationship with How To Be Autistic has changed a lot throughout the process of writing, editing, promoting and publishing.

They say writing is a way for introverts to tell a story without looking anyone in the eye, and I think that’s very true. And yet, here I am, and here you are, and I’ve told my story, and made myself terrifyingly vulnerable. I’ve looked you in the eye, if not literally, then figuratively, and held that eye contact, unflinching, and I think that was the germ that allowed How To Be Autistic to spring into existence.

I made the video, and I didn’t think anything further would happen – I sent it off, poor sound editing and a one take visual, a small paragraph describing it that sounded witty in my head but probably wasn’t, and I thought, ‘well, that’s the end of that then’.

But it wasn’t. It was a beginning. Startling and bright and full of potential in a way my life had never been.

And so, riding the high of that, I sat down to write How To Be Autistic. I still have on my phone the first chapter outline I wrote out, at 2am in the morning, and honestly, it’s pretty accurate to the finished book. I knew what I wanted to write – I wanted to write an extension of the video, all the things I hadn’t had time to say, all the things that hurt too much to say out loud.

Writing allows a level of bravery that you don’t find in the spoken word. There’s a freedom to it. You don’t really believe anybody’s going to read it, do you?

So, my first experience of How To Be Autistic, was catharsis. My only reader was my mum, who read every chapter and told me it was good (which is kind of her job). I finished it, sent it off to Mary, and things… got a little out of hand. And here we are!

As things progressed, and as people read my words, the words I’d cried over and tried to avoid writing as panic shivered through me, they didn’t tell me it was bad. And, I’m pretty sure, publishers don’t deliberately invest in bad books. So, my second experience of How To Be Autistic was one of validation, of ‘hey, maybe this is something I can actually do’.

People started messaging me, and much as I hate social interaction in all its varied forms, their messages were sincere. A teacher in France was using my video to teach English to her students. A short film wanted my help – my help! – as a script consultant on what would become a truly beautiful piece. And then, later, I would find out that I’m responsible for at least one diagnosis, and that, god, that is so important to me. So, my third experience of How To Be Autistic was one I’d hoped for, but didn’t think would come true, to change things – to make sure that what happened to me didn’t happen to someone else. When I wrote the book, I thought, if I can change just one person’s life with this, it’ll be worth it. And yes, it’s been worth it.

My world, once a small room with a laptop and a bundle of jumbled up ideas in my head, has become infinitely bigger. So, my – not last, because I believe I will continue to evolve just as How To Be Autistic evolves, but at this point – my final experience of How To Be Autistic is of solidarity. Of the good and kind people who helped make it a reality. To everyone who has listened and everyone who has read and everyone who has asked me questions (even the really difficult ones!). My final experience is one of intense gratitude, and standing here tonight, I feel that like never before. I wanted to write a book, I’ve sent out manuscripts before (weirdly nobody wanted the one about time travelling vampires, I don’t understand!) and the rejections stung. They say you need to write and write and write, and it will happen. And it did. Through luck and circumstance and the hard work of so many people here tonight, How To Be Autistic is a tangible object, and a beautiful one at that, and I don’t think that’s really sunk in yet. I wonder if it ever will.

I am so intensely grateful to everyone who believed in me – my mum, who has always been my first reader; my family, who put up with so, so much; everyone at Spectrum and in particular Mary and Celia for putting up with anxious phonecalls and rambling emails. To everyone at Myriad, to Corinne, whose sleep schedule is as weird as mine, to Emma who has poked and prodded the right people so that they’ve paid attention. To everyone who helped make How To Be Autistic beautiful and legible and real.

You’ve made me real. I always felt I was walking in a dream, only half here. I thought I would leave this world early, and without making any impression at all. I was so scared of that. And maybe How To Be Autistic is just one small book, but for me, it feels like a beginning.

So I guess, can we do the thing where we raise our glasses? Because I’d like to say to beginnings, and to the people who help create them. Thank you for being here. Thank you. Cheers.”

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Yesterday was one hell of a day! I was in London, staying at my uncle’s flat. I had a radio interview at 1.30pm, with Jo Good on BBC Radio London. I had been told I’d get four minutes, and I was still scared out of my mind. Live radio? There were so many potential trapdoors to fall down!

Luckily, Jo was lovely, properly lovely, and the interview went on for a full 12 minutes, and I don’t think I made too much of an idiot of myself.

If you’re in the UK, you can listen to it here (I’m right at the beginning) or on the BBC Sounds app (just search ‘Charlotte Amelia Poe’).

If you’re wondering what my shirt says, it’s the famous Joan of Arc mistranslation ‘I am not afraid, I was born for this.’ – I had my dad write it out, then scanned it in and got it printed. It seemed fitting.

After the radio interview, I went back to the flat and snuggled up in bed for a bit, before getting ready for the launch party. My mum, my brother and his girlfriend came down from Suffolk to be with me, so along with my dad and uncle, and my best friend who travelled down specially too (!!!) we were quite the little party.

Me and my dad and my friend arrived early, and I got to meet and re-meet (that’s not a word, is it?) all the people who have helped make How To Be Autistic possible. I quickly forgot everyone’s names (I’m quite face blind so social events are kinda tricky!) but I got the hang of it by the end of the night.

Some really lovely and amazing people turned up, including Meg Rosoff, who wrote the blurb for my book, and is also the author of ‘How I Live Now’, which, if you haven’t read it, first – why on earth not? and secondly, I love quite a lot, and she was so nice and I actually brought a copy for her to sign which she very kindly did. I have a bit of a thing for signed books, but this one was extra special.

Everyone was so nice about me and How To Be Autistic, and there were speeches (I even made one, which was possibly when my adrenaline peaked and I think I was just on a come down after that). I got flowers, which was so kind (I’ve never received flowers before, so it was so special).

It was just so nice to spend an evening with everyone who was supporting or actively working on the book, as well as my family and friends.

There was lots of good news, and it was just a really brilliant experience I hope I never forget.

There’s probably so much I’m forgetting, but it was such a whirlwind and I was pretty overwhelmed (in a good way!).

After we left, my dad drove me back home, and I don’t think I’ve been happier to see my own bed since I got back from America last year.

How To Be Autistic officially comes out in less than a week now (19th September) in the UK, and I believe the 29th in the US. I’m so excited and nervous and I just really hope you like it. I’m so proud of it.

Poe xx

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The last few days have been a bit of a whirlwind, to say the least! I was lucky enough to be asked onto Look East to talk about How To Be Autistic, and it was a very surreal experience, I watch Look East every night and to meet people who you see that often on television, and then BE on television with them, is very strange indeed. They were absolutely lovely though, and I think the interview went really well.

Later that night, I got an Instagram DM from the BBC online team, asking if they could ask me a few questions for an article. Of course I said yes!

The article went live today, and you can find it here: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-suffolk-49609987?SThisFB

In the interests of full clarity, transparency and context, I have decided to include my full answers to the questions I was asked, as I believe nuance can be lost in editing, and I want to make it very clear that it is very important to me that I do not want to speak over anybody else, and that ym experiences are not universal.

With just over ten days until How To Be Autistic releases, I’m feeling Very Nervous Indeed. I head up to London on Tuesday, and my book launch party is on the Wednesday. There’s a bunch of stuff planned, so I imagine it will be a haze of anxiety and Diazepam, but if it means reaching people and helping them find themselves within the book, then it’s worth it.

Poe xx

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I’m now counting down the days until my little book becomes a brilliant reality. I’m nervous and excited and a thousand other emotions all at once. My relationship with this book has changed so much between its original conception and now, and I imagine it will continue to do so. I am SO DAMN PROUD of this book, and despite the very real fear that I have made myself very vulnerable in writing it, I feel like sometimes you have to – art is all about telling people the very worst things, but somehow making them beautiful. My approach to art comes in two forms, two goals I hope to achieve: 1) create something beautiful and 2) leave the world in a better state than you found it. I really hope I’ve accomplished this with HTBA.

I’ve had some amazing messages from people, and some amazing feedback and early reviews. I know it won’t all be positive, but that’s okay. The initial goal was to change one person’s life, to make one person find a diagnosis or hope. I think that’s doable. If there is negativity, then, well, we’ll deal with that along the way too.

This time next week, I’ll be in London, which is terrifying in its own right – I don’t like being away from home – but the opportunities and experiences that promises are once in a lifetime, and so I will have to ride the waves of anxiety and make it to shore, because I want this book to matter, and I want to make everyone who has ever believed in me proud.

They say it takes a village, and it really has. There are so many people I need to thank for making HTBA a real, tangible thing.

I still keep expecting to wake up.

This was literally my dream as a child, to have my book in book stores (we didn’t have Amazon back then!) and to achieve that just blows my mind.

I’ll continue to keep you updated with how things are going, and will try to post whilst I’m in London.

The world, this life, is so full of twists and turns, you can’t predict any of it. I’ve been trying to get books published for years without success. And now, here I am.

What I want to say is this: there is hope. Your art is valuable and necessary. And it may take a while, but the right people will find it. And that will mean everything.

Poe xx