Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don’t you take it awful hard
‘Cause I laugh like I’ve got gold mines
Diggin’ in my own backyard.
You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I’ll rise.
– Maya Angelou
International Women’s Day is a great day, not only for celebrating the achievements big and small of women around the world, but also a chance to evaluate the current climate in which women are striving. Frustratingly there are still elements which do not reflect these achievements. For instance, despite being dominated by powerful female voices, British poetry still has a big white male issue. Today we have seen a poetry event for International Women’s Day where two of the three headliners are male and the line up for the poetry stage at a major UK festival has a disappointing 19 male to 5 female performer ratio. D-. Must try harder. We could drown in male narrative, as the dominant social and historical discourse that still plagues many aspects of modern literature. In positive response, nights like She Grrrowls have emerged to represent and champion self identifying women’s voices and it is women like Kate Tempest, Hollie McNish, Kat Francois and Jo Bell who lead the way in accessible and relevant poetry.
We are very proud to call ourselves an independent publisher, this means we can promote the work of unusual and unique poets without pandering to a mainstream market with certain demands and restrictions on content and image. We have published (including what we are about to publish in 2016) thirty-three editions of poetry and fiction by women and some of our bestselling titles are written by women of colour. We think that our portfolio is, at least to an extent, reflective of the intersectionality of British spoken word and we are very open about the fact that we aim to promote those who will not necessarily succeed in stricter climates. To celebrate the female poets we have had the privilege to publish (and ones we haven’t!), Jenn has complied a list of some of her favourite poems:
#1 – Sally Jenkinson – More Words Than We Deserve
This poem is completely heartbreaking, it brings me to tears every time I hear it.
#2 – Salena Godden – A Poem for Billie Holliday
It’s really hard to find just ONE brilliant Salena poem, but I’m big blues fan and this poem really reminds me of my favourite Frank O’Hara poem ‘The Day the Lady Died’.
#3 – Vanessa Kissule – The F Bomb
This poem rocks. So. Hard.
#4 Sophia Blackwell – No Dress Code
Sophia was one of the first female performance poets I saw and she made such a strong impression that I draw a lot of my inspiration from her still, years later!
#5 – Sabrina Mahfouz – No More Page 3 Campaign Poem
Sabrina is an amazing word-witch and I feel very strongly about the No More Page 3 campaign – this poem says everything I was thinking.
#6 – AJ McKenna – My Revelation Will Not Be Trivialised
I had the privilege of seeing AJ whilst I was on tour in the north last year and this particular poem had me in a puddle on the floor – truly inspiring!
#7 – Patti Smith – Oath
Patti Smith is my lifelong hero and the reason why I love punk music and poetry and have combined them in my own work.