Our featured publication for March is #MeToo: A women’s poetry anthology, edited by Deborah Alma, published by Fair Acre Press.
A brand new collection of largely new work, that rose up directly out of the collective rage from the #MeToo campaign on social media around the world at the end of 2017.
These poems are painful, angry, often difficult to bear, but the result of these voices singing together is one that is beautiful, full of sisterhood, strength, and recovery.
“This collection is quite the rollercoaster: it made me cry with sadness – and with joy. I salute the courage of the women who have shared the pain of sexual harassment in verse that is lyrical, poignant and powerful. And I am also grateful to those who have shared their more hopeful experience in the poems that conclude this brilliant anthology. They have managed to find resolution and peace – as will readers of this outstanding collection.” Rachel Kelly.
Body, remember that night you pretended
it was a film, you had a soundtrack running
through your head, don’t lie to me body,
you know what it is. You’re keeping it from me,
the stretched white sheets of a bed,
the spinning round of it, the high whining sound
in the head. Body, you remember how it felt,
surely, surely. You’re lying to me. Show me
how to recognise the glint in the eye of the dog,
the rabid dog. Remind me, O body, of the way
he moved when he drank, that dangerous silence.
Let me feel how I let my eyes drop, birds falling
from a sky, how my heart was a field, and there
was a dog, loose in the field, it was worrying
the sheep, they were running and then
they were still. O body, let me remember
what it was to have a field in my chest,
O body, let me recognise the dog.
(previously published in The Art of Falling, Seren, 2017)
Now, When I Think About Women
I think about Aziz Ansari’s Netflix special
where he asked the ladies in the crowd
how many had been followed—not cat-called—
actually followed down the street
by a man, many blocks, and how nearly
half of Madison Square Garden raised
their hands. I was home raising my hand,
thinking of moments in multiple cities,
how it was suddenly time to be scared.
Now, when I think about women,
I think about educated men who ask
if we secretly love being hollered at.
Don’t you kind of enjoy the attention?
Isn’t it flattering? It is 2017 and my best
friend says: a man in a car pulled up
beside me as I was bicycling, he was
jerking off to me, at me, I froze,
had to force myself to start pedaling
away. Last October, I consoled
my most enthusiastic canvassers: girls
who were chased and assaulted while
trying to get out the vote for the first
female president. Now, when
I think about women, I think about violence
and the threat of violence, how it’s like
an alarm inside going from zero to blaring.
The week I moved to New York
a girl my age went for a run.
People said it was her fault for dressing
that way, for taking that path. The article
said there was evidence of a struggle:
that before she died she bit her attacker
so hard her teeth cracked.
(previously published on Poets Respond, 22 October, 2017)
Consider my fault. It starts here,
on my temple so slim it could be a strand
of stray hair. Up close, at kissing distance,
it’s bolder, a slip of charcoal eyeliner.
When I find it in the mirror, it moves,
the creeping leg of a spider, a crack
across a plate left in the oven too long.
It parts a fraction like the lips of someone
sleeping, breathing in an unfamiliar bed
and when I think of that, it widens,
crescent-shaped, smile of a moon
above the house they’d say I shouldn’t
have been in, rim of the glass I shouldn’t
have touched. It turns into a zip, slit
of a pencil skirt and I can feel my body
opening, a fault-line in the ground
and everything – his hands and books,
the quartered bread, the wine, the room
I don’t remember entering – loosed
and falling into me. I turn
into a road that always takes me back
to the same place: pit town, midnight,
frost across the playing fields
as I go silent underneath
the broken roundabout, zig-zag
below pavements, terraces, the winding wheel
crossed with a thin seam of light and no-one
can touch me, not for centuries.
in the room/ in the street/ on the stair/ where some men make free
in plain sight or in secret as if we were sweetmeat/to dip
fingers in and then forget – it is the being alone
afterwards that numbs and maims, utterly
alone in the silence of it/where shame creeps in/
stuns dead/but now we rise, all women
fondled and hurt and licked in acid jokery and in hate,
pets, sweethearts, loves, darlings, humourless bitches –
we stand together, each one a Spartaca
no longer silent or alone: each voice stronger,
massing, alive, a wild murmuration
of me too/me too/me too
Spartacus was a rebel slave hunted down by the Romans to be crucified.
Asked to identify himself by soldiers, everyone in the crowd around him
stepped forward and said ‘I am Spartacus’.
The #MeToo anthology is available to buy from the Fair Acre Press website. All profits go to Women’s Aid. A full list of events to showcase work from the anthology is also available on the Fair Acre Press website.