“#MeToo: rallying against sexual assault and harassment, a women’s poetry anthology” edited by Deborah Alma; “Persephone’s Daughters,” empowering readers and writers who’ve experienced gendered abuse

Will be out on March 8. Pre-order HERE.



#MeToo Anthology, The Back Story

by Deborah Alma, Editor

The #MeToo (Fair Acre Press, March 8, 2018) anthology came straight out of a long thread on my Facebook page in October 2017, just as we were talking about the Harvey Weinstein allegations on the news and before I had even heard of the #MeToo campaign. I asked women friends of mine to add their name on the thread if they hadn’t experienced any form of sexual harassment in their lives and I was surprised to find that of the 200 women that started to share some of their stories , 2 or 3 told us that it had never happened to them. My surprise was not that there were so few, but that there were any women at all.

Of course over the years we have shared these stories with our friends, sisters, mothers, partners and sometimes with the police, or in court. It has been the water we swim in as women. But saying something publicly has always been difficult and brave. The words would stick in our throats, for so many reasons.

But something was released and given a space within social media. It was easy to add our voice to the rising shout of #MeToo. We felt the sisterhood. Many women were emboldened by this to share more difficult stories, more details.

I’m a poet, and an editor and someone suggested we collect these stories somehow and it was obvious to collect them as poems. It was what I could do.

I am very proud of this book, proud of the poets for sharing and for the courage in putting their names to their words. I have been amazed by the wonderful collaboration in its making; all of us women.  Jessamy Hawke is the daughter of an online friend and she came forward and offered to make new line drawings for the book, the striking cover was made for the book by my friend Sandra Salter and all the work of editing and publishing was donated. Jess Phillips MP gave us her introduction and it’s been endorsed by Amanda Palmer and Rachel Kelly amongst others.

I do recognise that it is a painful and difficult to read a great deal of the time. But when taken slowly, and with reading only what you can bear, I trust the reader will hear its rallying cry of anger and impatience. We have had enough.

© 2018, Deborah Alma

DEBORAH ALMA (Emergency Poet) is a UK poet, with an MA in Creative Writing, taught Writing Poetry at Worcester University and works with people with dementia and in hospice care. She is also Emergency Poet prescribing poetry from her vintage ambulance. She is editor of Emergency Poet-an anti-stress poetry anthology, The Everyday Poet- Poems to live by (both Michael O’Mara), and her True Tales of the Countryside is published by The Emma Press. She is the editor of #Me Too – rallying against sexual harrassment- a women’s poetry anthology (Fair Acre Press, March 2018). Her first full collection Dirty Laundry is published by Nine Arches Press (May 2018). She lives with her partner the poet James Sheard on a hillside in Powys, Wales.



POETRY FROM

#MeToo: rallying against sexual assault and harassment

 

Freeing the sources of light

Make friends with the light.

It’s been years

since you watched summer turn bad,

 

felt warm grass chafe your bare legs

and his old man’s fingers

trespass beneath the dress

 

you never wore again.

That hot summer

you dashed to your childhood garden

 

but the sun glared,

music buzzed from the wireless,

stung a secret place, the Everlies

 

and Elvis called heart:

always tender, baby,

always untrue.

 

And summers afterward

echoed bus rides to city parks

where he kissed your mouth,

 

fondled your arms.

The sun blurred, twinned

into headlamps,

 

pinned shadows on the wall-

but it was decades ago.

Welcome the light,

 

you don’t need a sky’s worth,

just a lodestar for the journey.

White roses in a glass vase,

 

candle-flame at dusk and the moon

in winter, carrying

its bowl of borrowed sun.

© 2018, Sheila Jacob      


Bitch

Always just within reach, it is the desk-drawer revolver

or the switch that is flicked when a woman says No

and means No and knows her own mind

and makes herself inconveniently clear;

 

it is the cocksure roar of boy used to his own way,

one more of the ones we warn each other about,

whose reputations we pass around like classroom

secrets, names itching from girl-hand to woman-hand,

 

the ones who just adore women, who say their wives

really don’t mind, the ones who wonder, aloud,

and publicly, what hitch qualifies you to claim

this space for your small fierce self,

 

the ones who will scrape back their chair, stand up

in the kitsch restaurant, tongue catching on the latch

of that single syllable,the alarmed door he will shoulder

open becoming the exit she will depart through. 

© 2018, Jane CommaneAssembly Lines (Bloodaxe, 2018)


Irish Twins

attic rain

the backyard swing

off kilter

We share an attic room. In the corner is an old double bed that smells and sags on one side. My side. Late at night I hear my heart beat. Loud. So loud he will hear it. He will think my heart is calling him up the attic stairs. His footsteps are heavy. He smells of old spice and cherry tobacco. My eyes shut tight. I know he is there. I feel his weight. Never on my side. Always on the side she sleeps. When the bed-springs sing their sad song I fly away. Up to the ceiling. My sister is already there. Together we hold hands. Looking down we see our bodies. We are not moving. We are as still as the dead.

© 2018, Roberta BearyContemporary Haibun Vol.14 (Red Moon Press)



PERSEPHONE’S DAUGHTERS

The Return of Persephone, c.1891 (oil on canvas) by Leighton, Frederic (1830-96); 203×152 cm; Leeds Museums and Galleries (City Art Gallery) U.K.; English, public domain

PERSEPHONE’S DAUGHTERS is published online, in print and in film. This magazine’s content is based on a mission to empower women / femme individuals who have experienced various forms of gendered abuse (sexual, emotional, physical, racial, verbal, etc), or other forms of degradation (harassment, catcalling, threats, etc).  Persephone’s Daughters welcomes all identities.

Online Sunday Stories feature personal accounts of those surviving abuse. There is also a film submission category that aligns with the mission. Accepted works are featured online on Film Fridays.  Of note is a post-election mini-issue, a writing and art collection by people who are negatively effected by the outcome of the 2016 U.S. election. Proceeds from the sales of that collection go to the Young Center for Immigrant Children’s Rights, which provides services, legal help, and advocacy to unaccompanied immigrant children fleeing trafficking, conflict, poverty and more.

The editor’s say that submissions for Issue 5 will likely open in April. The theme is “Sexual Assault Awareness.” Sunday Stories and Film Fridays are currently open for submissions. Link HERE.


ABOUT THE POET BY DAY

“Pangur Bán” ~ The Gift of a 9th Century Irish Poem Revisited in “The White Cat and the Monk” & “The Secret of the Kells”

The White Cat and the Monk was a 2016 Christmas gift to me from my son and daughter-in-law. It’s a charmingly illustrated retelling of an old Irish poem, Pangur Bán, a lovely gift and a lovely addition to my bookshelves.

I wasn’t familiar with the poem, so the gift inspired – as such gifts are want to do – a few hours of pleasurable reading and research, an effort lightly akin to the endeavors of the anonymous but renown author of the poem. Pangur Bán was written by a 9th Century monk somewhere inside or in the vicinity of Reichenau Abby, which is on Reichenau Island in Lake Constance in the south of Germany.


The page of the Reichenau Primer on which Pangur Bán is written. It is now housed in St. Paul’s Abbey – a Benedictine Abby – in the Lavanttal, a market town in Carinthia, Austria. (public domain photograph)


The poet monk tells of a white cat who shares his work and living space. While the monk single-mindedly finds pleasure in scholarly pursuits, the white cat finds pleasure in single-mindedly chasing mice.

There are many translations of Pangur Bán, notably by W. H. Auden and Seamus Heaney. The most famous translation – which turned out to be my favorite – is by Robin Flowler (1881-1946), an English poet and scholar, a Celticist, Anglo-Saxonist and translator of Gaelic.

The Scholar and His Cat, Pangur Bán

I and Pangur Bán my cat,
‘Tis a like task we are at:
Hunting mice is his delight,
Hunting words I sit all night.

Better far than praise of men
‘Tis to sit with book and pen;
Pangur bears me no ill-will,
He too plies his simple skill.

‘Tis a merry task to see
At our tasks how glad are we,
When at home we sit and find
Entertainment to our mind.

Oftentimes a mouse will stray
In the hero Pangur’s way;
Oftentimes my keen thought set
Takes a meaning in its net.

‘Gainst the wall he sets his eye
Full and fierce and sharp and sly;
‘Gainst the wall of knowledge I
All my little wisdom try.

When a mouse darts from its den,
O how glad is Pangur then!
O what gladness do I prove
When I solve the doubts I love!

So in peace our task we ply,
Pangur Ban, my cat, and I;
In our arts we find our bliss,
I have mine and he has his.

Practice every day has made
Pangur perfect in his trade;
I get wisdom day and night
Turning darkness into light.

-translated from the Gaelic by Robin Flowler


THE SECRET OF THE KELLS

Featuring Pangur Bán, both cat and poem


In 2009 the Flatiron Film Company released an animated film, The Secret of Kells, which is inspired by a mix of history, Celtic mythology, magic and fantasy. One of the characters is a white cat, Pangur Bán,  and during the credits Pangur Bán is read in modern Irish.

If you are viewing this by email subscription, you’ll likely have to link through to the site to view this video, the Pangur Bán Song from the film.

The Secret of the Kells is a relief from horrifying news and the overflow of often vapid and violent movie offerings. The pace of the film is relaxed. Unlike a lot of movies, it doesn’t yell at you. It does engage with story and beautiful animation reminiscent of traditional Irish art.

Though the story is a fiction, it is grounded in history: an Ireland besieged by Viking raids and a mythical mystical take on the production and preservation of The Book of Kells, an early illustrated (illuminated) New Testament. The Book of Kells is housed now at Trinity College Library in Dublin. The film incorporates the Irish poetic genre – aisling – developed in Irish poetry of the 17th and 18th centuries and in which Ireland appears in a poet’s dream as a woman – maiden, mother or crone – and bemoans the state of Ireland.


The White Cat and the Monk was written by JoEllen Bogart and illustrated by Sydney Smith. It was short-listed for the Governor General’s Literary Awards, Young People’s Literature (Illustrated Books). It was named New York Times Best Illustrated Children’s Book and listed on Brain Pickings’ Best Children’s Books of 2016.

The Secret of the Kells was nominated for an Oscar and won several other film awards including the Audience Award of the Annecy International Animated Film Festival. It has an overall approval rating of 91% on Rotten Tomatoes where the consensus is “Beautifully drawn and refreshingly calm. The Secret of the Kells harkens back to animation’s gold age …”

 


Aisling

Pierre-Cécile Puvis de Chavannes: An Aisling, 1883 – Public Domain

Antidotes to Tyranny and Concentration Camps of the Mind from Spaulding (UK) polymath, Colin Blundell

I love the way the obscene word ‘TRUMP’ doesn’t appear once in Timothy Snyder’s book On Tyranny: Lessons from the 20th Century (Bodley Head 2017 ISBN 9781847924889 – UK) [Tim Duggins Books ISBN-13: 978-0804190114 – US],  which is clearly directed that way. The ‘fascism’ that’s sweeping the whole world is entirely represented by the five letters of the American president’s name and by anybody who associates with them – Mayhem in the UK, for instance.

“Fascism?” says the simplistic Tory MP, “Where are the Concentration Camps?” My answer is, “You don’t need them – you do things far more subtly these days. You have learned a lesson from the past – not to be quite so callous…” In the thirties, the Camps were a physical symbol of depriving individuals of their humanity, starving them, murdering them… Now there’s a Concentration Camp of the Mind. You do it by depriving the ‘plebs’ of aid & sustenance & meaningful jobs, and you force them to work till they’re too old to stand upright so they don’t have time or energy for protest. You peddle lies like the need for ‘Austerity’. Or you plug them into e-devices and they just die that way quietly at home or on the streets, sometimes by their own hand.

Here are the TWENTY LESSONS outlined by Timothy Snyder. The headings are his, the descriptors are mine. He brilliantly details the way in which the history of the 20th Century offers ‘lessons’ – the antidote to TYRANNY.

1. DO NOT OBEY IN ADVANCE When you signify approval by voting for them or falling in with their machinations against any better judgement you might have had you make them think they’re winning
2. DEFEND INSTITUTIONS The United Nations, The European Project, all regulatory organisations – institutions of this kind protect us from their greed & exploitation
3. BEWARE THE ONE PARTY STATE Resist all indications that they’re the only way, that there’s no alternative – listen out for the words…
4. TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR THE FACE OF THE WORLD Remove all their hate signs
5. REMEMBER PROFESSIONAL ETHICS Expose corruption in high places, share signs of their chicanery at all levels, support honesty
6. BE WARY OF PARAMILITARIES Resist their uniforms & insignia of power
7. IF YOU MUST BE ARMED, BE REFLECTIVE Verify everything for yourself. Be prepared to say NO to them! Thus far no further…
8. STAND OUT Say something different, speak the alternative words, don’t repeat their mantras like a parrot – many do!
9. BE KIND TO OUR LANGUAGE Study what they say carefully; read books; say your own thing; notice all abstractions – they beguile us into agreement
10. BELIEVE IN TRUTH Don’t accept all this post-truth/fake news stuff
11. INVESTIGATE Verify, verify… Don’t go for sound-bites & headlines; be prepared to read lengthily
12. MAKE EYE CONTACT & SMALL TALK Stay in touch with real people
13. PRACTISE CORPOREAL POLITICS March! – don’t let them tell you it’s pointless. They’d have you glued to the telly. Feel the truth of things deep in your somatic sensibility. Don’t go along with their emotional bluster
14. ESTABLISH A PRIVATE LIFE Resist all attempts to have them spy on you
15. CONTRIBUTE TO GOOD CAUSES Support AVAAZ, 38 Degrees, War on Want, Greenpeace – whatever grabs you. Start small
16. LEARN FROM PEERS IN OTHER COUNTRIES Relate to as many other like-minded people as you can across the world so you know you’re not alone
17. LISTEN FOR DANGEROUS WORDS Be angry about the way words snake into your being – ‘extremism’, ‘terrorism’ for example
18. BE CALM WHEN THE UNTHINKABLE ARRIVES Notice how an event (23rd March 2017) like the carnage caused by the nutter who drove into people on Westminster Bridge (Earth has not anything to show more fair/Dull would he be of soul who could pass by/A sight so touching in its majesty…) is exploited by them to keep us in a state of terror. ‘Act of terrorism’, ‘an attack on Democracy…’ [abstraction] – ‘must be willing to give up certain liberties’ [abstraction] in order to maintain security [abstraction]. Focus on the enemy without so we forget the enemy within. Hitlerian trick
19. BE A PATRIOT rather than a nationalist. It’s so nice to wake up on a spring morning in the place where you live
20. BE AS COURAGEOUS AS YOU CAN Resist all tyranny, whatever form it takes. Be content in your self

© Colin Blundell


Blogging “I hate the word! Like I hate most things in the e-world. I will not join the Twits twittering… Things that are worth saying are worth saying at length…” Colin Blundell

I Colin Blundell’s work. It never fails that I learn something or think about something differently when I visit Colin’s “Globbing” as he calls it. While I was busy encouraging folks to read Prof. Snyder’s book, Colin was already using it as a jumping-off point for the delivery of his own observations.  / J.D.

Colin says of himself:

“I work with people to help them gain a deeper insight for themselves into who they are and what they might do.

“Having escaped wage slavery in 1991, I began to suit myself when I worked, never really thinking of it as ‘working’ but more like the opportunity to sample various hotels and training venues round the country and as a way of paying for the renovation of an ancient decaying heap that I could call ‘home’.

“Since 1991, I’ve taught NLP, Accelerated Learning, Covey’s Seven Habits, Change Management, Problem-solving and Time Management. Currently, when I feel like it or when networkers ask to pick my brain, I teach the art & practice of the Enneagram and a robust coaching model deriving therefrom.

“The ‘Enneagram Apprentice’ series is for friends who have attended my Enneagram course. It follows up and develops the ideas created by them there.

“I write poems, novels, philosophical tomes, music and make watercolours and Magic Cities.

“I hand-make paperback books.

“I do long distance motorbike treks.

“‘The best is still to come…’ Stephen Covey (when he was 70)

“If you’re expecting short blogs from me you’ll be severely disappointed! Sound Bite Exhortations are enticing or immediately attractive but say very little in the end… The knack is how to get on the inside of a seemingly snappy apophthegm. I teach how to make ideas come to life.”

– Colin Blundell


I encourage you to read On Tyranny by Timothy Snyder, to  listen to the videos of Snyder’s lectures and – Yes! — to visit my friend Colin Blundell for wise, interesting and honest reading. A good complementary read for On Tyranny is Black Earth: The Holocaust as History and Warning, / J.D.



Prof. Timothy Snyder (This photograph and biography are from Dr. Snyder’s Amazon page.

Timothy Snyder is the Housum Professor of History at Yale University and a permanent fellow at the Institute for Human Sciences in Vienna. He received his doctorate from the University of Oxford in 1997, where he was a British Marshall Scholar. Before joining the faculty at Yale in 2001, he held fellowships in Paris, Vienna, and Warsaw, and an Academy Scholarship at Harvard.

Professor Snyder spent some ten years in Europe, and speaks five and reads ten European languages. Among his publications are several award-winning books, all of which have been translated: Nationalism, Marxism, and Modern Central Europe: A Biography of Kazimierz Kelles-Krauz (1998, revised edition 2016); The Reconstruction of Nations: Poland, Ukraine, Lithuania, Belarus, 1569-1999 (2003); Sketches from a Secret War: A Polish Artist’s Mission to Liberate Soviet Ukraine (2005); The Red Prince: The Secret Lives of a Habsburg Archduke (2008); and Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler and Stalin (2010). Bloodlands won twelve awards including the Emerson Prize in the Humanities, a Literature Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Leipzig Award for European Understanding, and the Hannah Arendt Prize in Political Thought. It has been translated into more than thirty languages, was named to twelve book-of-the-year lists, and was a bestseller in six countries. His book, Black Earth: The Holocaust as History and Warning, was published by Crown Books in September 2015 and in twenty-one foreign editions thereafter.

Snyder is also the co-editor of Wall Around the West: State Borders and Immigration Controls in Europe and North America (2001) and Stalin and Europe: Terror, War, Domination (2013). He helped Tony Judt compose a thematic history of political ideas and intellectuals in politics, Thinking the Twentieth Century (2012).

Some of Snyder’s essays on the Ukrainian revolution were published in in Russian and Ukrainian as Ukrainian History, Russian Politics, European Futures (2014). Other essays will be published in Czech as The Politics of Life and Death (2015). Snyder sits on the editorial boards of the Journal of Modern European History and East European Politics and Societies. His scholarly articles have appeared in Past and Present, the Journal of Cold War Studies, and other journals; he has also written for The New York Review of Books, Foreign Affairs, The Times Literary Supplement, The Nation, and The New Republic as well as for The New York Times, The International Herald Tribune, The Wall Street Journal, and other newspapers. Snyder was the recipient of an inaugural Andrew Carnegie Fellowship in 2015.

Timothy Snyder is a member of the Committee on Conscience of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and sits on the advisory councils of the Yivo Institute for Jewish Research and other organizations.

Carlos Andrés Gómez ~ “Genocide” and “Man-up: Reimagining Modern Manhood”

quote-the-single-most-revolutionary-thing-you-can-do-is-recognize-that-you-are-enough-carlos-andres-gomez-80-67-82Mark Twain (a.k.a. Samuel Clemens) famously – or perhaps infamously – was a believer in and adept master of profanity, not as vulgarity, he said, but as release.

“Under certain circumstances, urgent circumstances, desperate circumstances, profanity provides a relief denied even to prayer.” Mark Twain, a Biography

Twain wrote of swearing as “ornamental” when practiced by American miners considered by him to be “gifted among the sons of man.”

I admit I haven’t the gift to turn profanity into art and I have no taste for vulgarity.  You won’t catch a swear word on my tongue or even on my mind but I do recognize that there’s a time and place and manner. I don’t know what Twain would think of award-winning American spoken-word poet, Carlos Andrés Gómez, but I like his work. Carlos moves profanity from emotional release or “ornament” to moral high ground. He applies it with searing honesty to the human condition.

Here’s Carlos telling it like it is:

If you are reading this post FROM in email, you will have to click through to view the video.

“Carlos is amazing. Pretty much everything he says, whether a ‘poem’ or not, is pure poetry. His grace and power and humor demand not only that people listen, but also that they act for change — in themselves and the world around them. And especially when it comes to the narrow norms that constrain men, hurt women, and limit us all, he can help deliver exactly the change we need. Carlos makes me laugh, cry, and hope.”

Mallika Dutt, President & CEO of Breakthrough [the global human rights organization dedicated to making violence against women unacceptable] (India)

61Qvg4B4epL._SX330_BO1,204,203,200_Carlos Andrés Gómez was born in New York City (1983) but he seems very much a citizen of the world.  He’s a poet, writer, actor, activist . . . and  some say, a prophet.  He was a social worker and a public school teacher. He is the son of a United Nation’s diplomat and an indigenous rights’ activist.

His book, Man-up: Reimagining Modern Manhood (Gotham, 2012) is a coming of age memoir that suggests an enlightened masculinity with an open self-embracing emotional life, ready to foster nonviolence and able to see women not as objects but as whole human beings, as equal partners in life and work. The book was written in part to help address some of the crises we are all so concerned about, including school drop-out rates and youth suicide. A worthy read that challenges us to exchange traditional male stereotypes of macho conformity for something more genuine and soul-satifying. Recommended for women as well as men and I’d say for anyone raising and/or educating young men.

© Jamie Dedes

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