Against the odds: Kamala Ibrahim Ishaq

Being an artist, writer, musician, teacher, journalist, or other professions involves a lifetime of learning and a never-ending-journey. Perhaps no one understands this better than Kamala Ibrahim Ishaq, who graduated from the College of Fine Arts in Khartoum in 1963 and was a founding member of the Khartoum School, a modern art movement established in... Continue Reading →

3 brutal poems for women: Rare age, fairy tales, and a monster protest

The following three poems are hard and liberating. Read them out loud and with one fist clenched. Laura Passin is a writer and scholar specialising in contemporary US poetry and gender studies. I am not old - by Samantha Reynolds I am not old, she said I am rare I am the standing ovation at... 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 →

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 →

Male lack of sexual self control does not exist

He was so horny, he just couldn't help himself.... yeah right. So we know that the idea of male lack of sexual self control is used to hold up rape culture. We also know that women, on average, get just as horny as men do (though within both those genders and among intersex people there... Continue Reading →

Aja Monet: “privilege is knowing there are parts of this earth occupied for your leisure”

I love how raw, strong, and to-the-point activist poetry usually is. There's no time to beat about the bush, no space to weave pleasantries into the systemic abuse. Aja Monet's poetry is like that. Her book, My Mother Was a Freedom Fighter was published last year. Below, a few snippets from it, followed by her... Continue Reading →

What to say to men who insist they should be able to say whatever they like to women

“It wouldn't bother me if I was complimented,” men often say when told that their street harassment or their comments on our appearance are a problem. Here's one bad-ass way you can respond. Start with a hypothetical about a friend who was in a traumatic car crash. Hanging out with that friend, we're sensitive to... Continue Reading →

If we loved like farmers… two poems from Suheir Hammad

land his approach to love he said was that of a farmer most love like hunters and like hunters most kill what they desire he tills soil through toes nose in the wet earth he waits prays to the gods and slowly harvests ever thankful the missing the way loss seeps into neck hollows and... Continue Reading →

Activism is poetry is activism

Warsan Shire's poems are angry and they argue and rage and weep. As fighting poems should. A British poet, born to Somali parents in Kenya, Shire's poems have been read at rallies, and in homes and not-so-homes. She writes about people who are made invisible in society - often refugees, migrants, and other marginalised groups.... Continue Reading →

When a poet dies: Mari Evans

Poet Mari Evans died last month. According to media reports, some 500 mourners attended. Evans had written of her funeral: When I die I'm sure I will have a Big Funeral ... Curiosity seekers ... coming to see if I am really Dead ... or just trying to make Trouble ... Evans was one of... Continue Reading →

Why we need to hear less from academics

Many believe that academics are the neutral gods above us, who look down at the world and see things clearly. Academics are the “experts” of society that are quoted and interviewed in the media, despite having minimal participation in that society. They hog the intellectual limelight, while others on the ground do the hard yakka... Continue Reading →

The accidental rich white man

In 1872, the president of Ecuador ordered that Manuela Leon be shot, after her leading role in an indigenous rebellion against forced labour. Her troops had been victorious, and they say she had managed to kill the lieutenant Miguel Vallejo. In the president's decree, he called her Manuel. And just like that, he erased the... Continue Reading →

3 emotional, powerful, brilliant spoken word poems

There's something super intimate - politically intimate- about watching people speak their own poems, seeing the face and feelings that go with the piece of soul and struggle contained in the words. Beck Cooper - Alone in a Bathroom Vernell Bristow - Kalgo Tree Jenesis Fonseca - "The Way to a Woman's Heart"

Writing for liberation exercise: who we write for

While without a doubt we often write for ourselves, our writing that we want to be read is speaking out to others with a message, fighting for a cause (even if that cause, in the case of conservatives, is to maintain the status quo). There is a lot of stuff out there about keeping your... Continue Reading →

Does every woman need a room of her own?

What if Shakespeare had been a woman, or it was his sister who wrote, Virginia Woolf asked. What conditions would have had to have been different for her to even think she had a right to have ideas back then, then a right to write and to be read? Would her plays be known today?... Continue Reading →

3 strong women and their bold poetry that just says it how it is

The Joys of Motherhood - FreeQuency "...who will see criminal before child... I can't take it for granted that they won't kill my son... there's something about being Black in America that has made motherhood sound like mourning ..." Used - Shelby Birch "He called me a queen and I blushed, but it wasn't because... Continue Reading →

40 Books by Oppressed People in 40 weeks

I've set a goal to read 40 novels or fiction/prose works (eg poetry, memoirs) by oppressed people by the end of this year (1 a week). This includes books by authors in thirdworld countries, women, sexually diverse authors, workers, indigenous peoples, people who face systemic racism, poor people, refugees and more. These people are, in... Continue Reading →

Portraits from prison: Using photography to see more

Eva Haule is an activist who spent 20 years in prison, including time in solitary and on hunger strike. She said photography "filled the emptiness". Day after day, seeing the same things, photography gave her the opportunity to see more or to look at things again, differently. In her photos, prisoners are humanized again, and we... Continue Reading →

Illustrated: Women in Struggle

The artist, María María Acha-Kutscher, says, "The aim of the Indignadas series is to make women's efforts more visible and place women at the center of these social struggles ... The drawings show a female body not offered as support for the man's eyes, but as support for the political message ... This is another way to connect... Continue Reading →

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