Writing for liberation exercise: Make it ugly

Clotty seas, fungal walls, insipid kindness, reckless jokes, a grotty smile - it can be fun to play with contrasts, the unexpected, and in this case - make nice things ugly. It's easy to find all the right adjectives and stack them up in front of the horrid stuff of life. And it's easy to... Continue Reading →

PSA to men: Stop insisting

He asked me if I wanted to go out and get wine and look at the stars. I said, politely and honestly, no thanks – I was tired and it was really cold out. He came back with, “How about wine somewhere closer?” so I had to find a way to say no, again, politely.... Continue Reading →

Iran in photos: These are the people the US won’t let in

In the giant main square of Isfahan, two women eating saffron ice-cream came up to myself and a friend and asked us where we're from. We replied, and with huge smiles they said "Welcome to Iran!" then walked off. Over the next week this sort of thing happened frequently, and sometimes extended into questions about... Continue Reading →

Revolutionary gems on mothering, survival, rebellion, and war

I read Mai’a Williams' book like some one starved for word gems and insights. I want to cover this book for this blog because no one talks about mothers like they are the key protagonists in this world. They (and women and people of colour and people in poor countries and..) are portrayed as being... Continue Reading →

Why non-plated food epitomises everything that is wrong with the world.

Non-plated food is lacking in imagination and a symptom of societal stupidity. In rich countries and the wealthier areas of poor countries it has become trendy for restaurants to serve food on cutting boards and slates, as well as “deconstructed” meals in cups, juice in watering cans, sausages in skulls and hanging from branches (seriously),... Continue Reading →

Writing for liberation exercise: self observation

A common writing exercise is to go somewhere - say a park - and write what you see, based on the five key senses - sight, smell, sound, taste, and texture. Sometimes I like to modify this exercise and instead write what I imagine - the stories of the lives of people sitting in the... Continue Reading →

Think of Syria – poems by Farrah Akbik

Farrah Akbik is a British-Syrian poet based in London who writes to raise awareness of the hardships Syria and Syrian refugees are going through. Al Sham (*another name for Damascus) I want to lay my head in the lap of Ghouta, Dull my senses with pomegranate wine. Drift like Ophelia down the river Barada, Lose... Continue Reading →

What its like to take a two-year break from male authors

I’m a fiction author and journalist who is very much aware of, and angry about the racial, class, country-based, and gender and sexuality inequalities in the book and media worlds. Given the systemic exclusion many of us face, over two years ago I started only reading novels by female authors — preferably those from other oppressed worlds... Continue Reading →

Writing for liberation exercise: dealing with depression

The battle against depression (short or long term) has many fronts, including, in my opinion, the battle for a humanity and environment-first world where we are less alienated at work and among each other. But what makes writing such a powerful tool for both personal and political problems (which are invariably linked) is that we... Continue Reading →

Resistance words from Turkey

A Dead Sun - by Bejan Matur I peel night from the dead sun's flesh and like a scarf wrap it round my head The graves of children - by Bejan Matur So – we died. We flitted out of darkness. Beaches bore witness, as did the tiniest of stones. Night and stars streamed above us where... Continue Reading →

How creativity is killed in the Majority World

Watching a video of Jim Carrey painting, you can see he has a wonderful sense of play and colour, as he creates a range of giant paintings in his warehouse-sized studio. He bashfully covers a canvas double the size of my bedroom with paint, and he pours thick, luscious acrylic paint from cans in wonderful pink... Continue Reading →

Writing for liberation exercise: relinquish purpose

Some writers I know will sit down one day and write for 5 minutes or 24 hours (yes, I know that person) because they feel like it. I rarely do this. Now and then I'll write some thoughts down in a diary, or I get ideas for articles or novels at odd moments, but I... Continue Reading →

What real “balance” in the media would look like

When the mainstream media world talks about the importance of balance, or "both sides of the story", what they are really doing is justifying also talking to the rape victim's attacker, to the cop who murdered the Black man, to the violent right wing in Venezuela, to the coup plotters, and to the company that... Continue Reading →

Pablo Neruda poems brought to life with video

"Tonight I can write the saddest lines ... " Pablo Nerudo says in the first of these videos which respectfully and beautifully bring his poems to life. Poema 20 Walking around Leaning into the afternoons Leaning into the afternoons I cast my sad nets towards your oceanic eyes. There in the highest blaze my solitude... Continue Reading →

Writing for liberation exercise: Surreal words

We paint with words. We take colours and ideas and forms and we stroke and blend them together to create new things. For this exercise, take inspiration from these surreal art works, and brainstorm at least 10 objects, at least 10 verbs, and at least 10 descriptive adjectives (colours, shape etc), and use them to... Continue Reading →

Who Owns the Words?

J.K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potty series, was asked by her publisher Barry Kunningham to use just her initials (she made up the K), as he thought boys might be wary of a book written by a woman. Many people assume that Harper Lee is a man, Charlotte Bronte originally published as Currer Bell... Continue Reading →

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