#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.
#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,
And summers afterward
echoed bus rides to city parks
where he kissed your mouth,
fondled your arms.
The sun blurred, twinned
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
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 Commane, Assembly Lines (Bloodaxe, 2018)
the backyard swing
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 Beary, Contemporary Haibun Vol.14 (Red Moon Press)
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.