When I think of the human condition, two ugly emotions strike a chord with my intimate self: jealousy and anger. For years, I'd been writing poetry as a cathartic release of my true emotions, never did I feel more at peace than when I became the architect of—
THE COCKROACH BLUEPRINT
The origin story of this book came at a time when someone close to me was constantly in crisis which, in turn, desperately affected her quality of life. Without giving away any details, no one ever likes to see their friends suffer. I thought about my years as a Registered Social Service Worker when I was designing & implementing programs; how innovation played a serious role for my clients to release their emotions in a safe environment. One space, free of judgment, to simply write what is felt. Sometimes, we do get insane ideas in our minds, especially when we are excessively hurt. To be able to purge the inner vile, to me, is a better methodology than going out and physically hurting someone. Actions inside of themselves are permanent—writing can simultaneously be permanent and temporary depending on what is done with that parchment after words are scribed on it. Instead of being a strong advocate for violence, I suggested another way.
In 1839, an English author by the name of Edward Bulwer-Lytton wrote Richelieu; or Conspiracy, a play which houses one of my favorite quotes ever “the pen is mightier than the sword”. Well, to be frank, I took this to heart. I knew I needed to find a way to afford my friend a safe surrounding to be able to express herself fully without any fear. I realize that some of the methodologies listed in the Cockroach Blueprint may be ugly or disturbing; so is life! I mean yes, there is an infinite amount of beauty to behold, nevertheless if you are expecting flowery prose than this is the wrong book for you. As dirty or repulsive this insect is, so is the work you will read. Visceral, unrelenting, and even humorous!
The reason that I chose the cockroach over any other insect is that throughout human history this bug has always had the reputation of never being able to die. There's a joke that the only thing that will survive the apocalypse are cockroaches. Also, it is so versatile, it can squeeze through tiny spaces as if its anatomy is made of jelly. One wouldn’t feel too much remorse after haphazardly squishing it underfoot, no? My original intent for the Cockroach Blueprint is that it be utilized as a journal of sorts, for the reader to feel free to not only read but, also write in their own methodologies as to how they would kill their own intimate cockroaches – therein lies the reason why the anatomy of the book finds itself with an abundance of parchment to draw or write in.
With each draft, I wrote I found my frustration and anxiety kept brimming, just as the roach taunted me, scurrying around my feet with malicious intent. This is the reason why I chose to use my introduction from Cockroach Blueprint for this article—I want to ensure that I properly convey to you the true origin story of the Cockroach Blueprint. When I started writing the Cockroach Blueprint, individuals thought that I was crazy! I heard repeatedly “who would purchase a book about killing cockroaches?”, “why would someone want to read something by you?”, “are individuals going to understand the call for peace that this offers via writing down a simple methodology?”, “killing a cockroach on paper instead of doing something to cause self-harm or worse to someone else?” All these questions lined my brain with anxiety so profound it started to effect how I ate or slept. All I knew is that I genuinely needed to be true to myself. Regardless of what anyone said or did. This was my baby and my choice to release it into an unforgiving world. So, I bravely allowed KUBOA to publish it. About a month before I finished Cockroach Blueprint I approached KUBOA with a query about something completely unrelated. Turns out, their editor was interested in my writing after all—and the rest is history. I was quite fortunate to have this wonderful nonprofit press publish this book, yet I was so frightened that it would not sell or, even worse, become terminated early (no pun intended). My inner critic, Tabitha, justified the complete idiot of my inner creative, even though it was just in my head. The original blueprint was set, and with this, I turned outward in the form of an anthology; others needed to get in on the splattering mess!
Once Cockroach Blueprint was published I wanted more, it wasn't just enough for me to write the book. I wanted to create an anthology with multiple writers each taking up the task of writing their own methodologies. We rallied a hundred and one different poets to contribute each a 2-3 sentence methodology, and let me tell you—it wasn't the easiest thing! Promises were made and broken. Some were studious and punctual, some barely crossed the finish line, but all that matters is the manuscript is complete. As the curator, I also began to learn intrinsic facts about the submitters, where they come from, and what makes them tick. Many of them opened to me as to how this was such a tremendous idea and how it's going to such an important global cause.
Now, the important premise, the reason for all this. In another life, I used to be a Social Service Worker. As someone who was top of their counseling class, it really saddened me to have to leave the field. I could not deal with the heartache anymore, too much death and sorrow. I worked specifically with human affected by HIV/AIDS and some of them struggled with various levels of mental illness. Some with Bipolar, others with Schizophrenia and of course many suffered from anxiety on various levels. It's not a pretty life to be faced with on a daily level. It's quite tragic how many individuals constantly have to battle their illnesses. That's why it was important to organize this anthology, to acknowledge that there are human beings on this earth who are so riddled with sadness who fight each day to make it better than the next. So, in closing, I do hope my advocacy towards this anthology serves as a conduit to help your fellow human. Notice the signs. Enact upon them. Save a life worth living...unless it’s a cockroach.
I want to take a moment to thank: Josh Dale, Medina Gacevic, Scott Laudati, Thom Young, Ottis Blades, Christopher Andrews, Micheal Edwards, Rose Lupin for all their continued support of this initiative.
*A portion of this essay was taken from Cockroach Blueprint, By Rania MM Watts, Published by KUBOA press.
Rania M.M. Watts is a Palestinian-Canadian poet with an eventful past and humble future. Her latest publications are through KUBOA, 48th Street Press, and through her blog, Cement Covered Ink Quills, where she has interviewed and showcased creatives of all disciplines. She is a stay-at-home mother and knows how to top a pizza (seriously, she works as a call-in dispatcher for a pizza shop).