REVISITED: JACOB SAM-LA ROSE – BREAKING SILENCE

by Carmina Masoliver

Inspired by my experience of Being a Man Festival, I attended an evening in appreciation of poet and educator, Jacob Sam-La Rose. The night consisted of speeches and moving poetry in tribute to his teachings. The energy was reminiscent of the Burn After Reading nights, and despite this occasion being a one-off, it captured what I love about live literature events. Often, it can seem that poetry is such a niche medium, that outsiders can struggle to find their place. However, these spaces provide a place where people can share both pain and joy, and connect with others through words. Sam-La Rose is mostly known for the incredible work he does with young people. He has tremendous influence on poetry today, and on the opportunities that many young people have to be exposed to, and enveloped by, this art form. It comes as no surprise then to read on the back cover of Breaking Silence, that his work ‘is grounded in a belief that poetry can be a powerful force within a community’.

It felt right to return to the well-thumbed pages of my copy of Sam-La Rose’s debut book-length collection from Bloodaxe, one of the most reputable poetry publishers in the UK. Breaking Silence was shortlisted for the Forward Prize for Best First Collection and the Aldeburgh First Collection Prize, but many feel it has not had the recognition it deserves. Linking with themes from Being a Man Festival, the collection explores issues of manhood and masculinity, and how these intersect with race and dual heritage, as well as  broader issues of identity.

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BEING A MAN 2017: PART 2

by Carmina Masoliver

cw: mentions of rape and addiction

For this second part on the Being a Man (BAM) Festival, I’ll be looking at the various panels that addressed men’s body image, different kinds of addiction, and the concept of masculinity – looking beyond gender as something binary, and taking sexuality into account.Continue Reading

BEING A MAN 2017: PART 1

by Carmina Masoliver

cw: mentions suicide, rape, abuse, domestic violence, sexual violence

I left this year’s Being a Man Festival with over fifty pages of notes and a hopeful feeling – inspired by the coming together of people of all genders to take part in a dialogue on gender and its many intersections. Events like this show just how much there is to gain from men addressing gender from a feminist perspective, as opposed to the toxic perspective of the MRA groups. Below are a few highlights from the weekend focusing, in this first part, on mental health and the role  of violence in men’s lives.

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REFLECTIONS ON #METOO FROM A TIRED SURVIVOR

by Anonymous

Content warning: mentions sexual violence, abuse, sexual harassment, rape, domestic abuse and violence 

Last week saw the hashtag #MeToo achieve viral success, following the accusations multiple women made again Hollywood director Harvey Weinstein. The hashtag started when actress Alyssa Milano, tweeted “If all the women who have been sexually harassed or assaulted wrote ‘Me too’ as a status, we might give people a sense of the magnitude of the problem”.

The next week, social media was bombarded with personal account of sexual harassment, abuse, rape, assault and domestic violence. Famous celebrities talked about their experiences and within 24 hours, Facebook reported that 4.7 million people engaged with the #MeToo hashtag with over 12 million posts and comments. Most of the media’s reaction has been positive – finally we are acknowledging that sexual violence is a pervasive problem rather than a few isolated incidents, they say.Continue Reading

DOMESTIC VIOLENCE IS ALWAYS VIOLENCE

by Kenny Priestley

Content warning: article mentions abuse and domestic violence

This is an article submitted in response to Flashmob Dancers Demand an End to Violence Against Women. 

The term domestic violence, for most of us brings to mind the image of a woman being beaten or in some way abused by a man. Rarely do we stop to think that domestic violence is also a crime committed against men.  The unfortunate truth is that both sexes can be abusive and violent and even murderous toward each other.

Despite it being a fact that men also suffer domestic violence at the hands of women, it seems that this is a taboo subject. Even a search of the internet will reveal little, in comparison to a similar search regarding woman as the victims of domestic violence. When stories of the abuse of men by women are found the numbers of men that are subject to domestic violence vary wildly from site to site and report to report. The one thing that does stand out among these figures is that when abuse committed against men by women is found, the numbers of men being abused is often quoted as being lower on the sites that are almost exclusively for women, as opposed to the sites for male sufferers of domestic violence. Continue Reading

REVIEW – AN EVENING WITH AN IMMIGRANT, BY INUA ELLAMS

by Alex Valente

I moved back to Prato, Italy, last March. I thought I’d left behind the UK poetry scene, so very different in Italy in so many ways. Then, my own hometown organises a whole series of free events, including poetry nights – and invites Inua Ellams to perform his An Evening with an Immigrant show. Did you really think I wouldn’t attend, notebook in hand?Continue Reading

THE CAKE IS NOT A LIE — NERDSPHERE AND FITNESS

by Alex Valente

Content Warning: body issues, body shaming

In recent weeks, people with access to the internet on a regular basis have probably not been able to avoid reading news about a new application for smart phones, featuring a trendy geek icon that never really went away: Pokémon GO. As revealed in a totally legit super serious study by artist Justin Hall on Dorkly, the Niantic game is, in fact, part of a ploy to create superstrong, superbuff supernerds. True story.

To actually stray on the side of serious, though, the application has indeed helped some players (we will be discussing this in terms of people with disabilities, looking at positives and negatives — such as the gaping flaws for physical disabilities, or Playing While Black — in an article soon) to engage with others, and spend time outdoors (plus, this). Both results, in the most generalised way possible, are healthy habits and attitudes, and being hailed as the best thing to happen to nerds since Dungeons & Dragons.

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AN UNUSUAL LOVE STORY: APPRECIATING THE DEPTH OF FEMALE FRIENDSHIPS

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by Sunetra Senior

The story of Noamh Baumbach’s 2012 film ‘Frances Ha’ focuses on the drifting friendship between two women in their late twenties. There is a particularly poignant scene where Frances (Greta Gerwig) awakes to find that her best friend, Sophie, (Mickey Sumner) has left without saying goodbye after spending the night sleeping over when they haven’t seen each other in a long time. As Sophie’s car pulls away, Frances runs after her screaming her name.  This boldly illustrates the highly sentimental nature of many women’s friendships and the pain that inevitably results because, we as a society, do not respect it. Indeed, through all the big life changes Frances explicitly undergoes — moving between different apartments, facing financial troubles, and trying to launch a tentative dancing career —what remains as palpably constant are the unrequited affections for her ever elusive friend.

Unfortunately, this is very much reflective of what happens in ordinary life.Continue Reading

MALE BEAUTY IS A BEAST

by Sam Naylor

Disclaimer: mentions body dysmorphia, body shaming

Type into Google images “attractive men” or “attractive male body” and see what pops up. I’ll just give you a moment to scan over some of those photos. Done? Good. In both searches a grossly disproportionate number of these men are celebrities but more importantly they’re white. Switch tabs to “attractive male body” and you are met with a sea of torsos and chests sculpted by the media gods. Chiselled jaw lines, blue or green eyes and ‘designer’ stubble appear to be just three of the ingredients to get you on your way to being an attractive male.

At first glance (and second and third) you might wonder why this representation of the male form is a problem for anyone. I’ve spoken to male friends before that don’t see anything wrong with wanting to keep their bodies healthy and in shape. I agree, I’m not saying that exercise and a good diet are things to be raged against, quite the opposite. It is an issue though when this idealised version of a muscular physique, which is predominately portrayed as white, is paraded as our default-sexy setting.Continue Reading

BATMAN VS. SUPERMAN: REHASH OF INJUSTICE

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by Sam Naylor

Disclaimer: Filled to the brim with spoilers and undergraduate level gender studies analysis *gasp*

Just for a moment whilst sitting with phone wrapped in hand, imagine that I am a renowned film critic — tall order I know. Now picture the scene of zero-star ratings being awarded to films. I am that film critic that awards a zero rating to the backwards 50s tripe that is Batman vs Superman. As you can tell I am totally not bitter about wasting my money and time, with 153 minutes of my life being dragged out before my eyes, as I endured a steroid-induced-figurine-smacking-debacle.

Initial rant over: what I’d first like to address is the films portrayal of its female characters. Now with a film title like Batman vs Superman I was aware that the main arc of the story would revolve around these two colossuses, but I’d hoped that in 2016 we’d moved far enough away from female roles as fillers and crutches for their male onscreen co-stars.Continue Reading

THIS MAN

by Rebecca Tamás

This man is an angel
because
he is not a man

I reject the penis as my chosen ontology
even when his penis is in my hand
even when his mouth is open like a sodden
breastContinue Reading

RICHARD YATES: AN ACCIDENTAL FEMINIST?

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by Carmina Masoliver

I first came across Richard Yates’ work through Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio in the screen adaptation of Revolutionary Road. It wasn’t until I stumbled upon the book in HMV, for something ridiculous like £1, that I actually read his work. I loved them both equally. Maybe I’m just a sucker for all things retro, but I felt he was extremely talented at capturing the human condition in characters who were entirely believable; both romantic and tragic. His ability to do this seemed to extend to a variety of characters and situations when recently reading his Collected Works.Continue Reading

BEING BISEXUAL AND GENDERQUEER IN A ‘HETEROSEXUAL’ AND ‘CISGENDERED’ RELATIONSHIP

by Chris Jarvis

In one form or another, I have been ‘out’ for about eight or nine years. Obviously the concept of being ‘out’ is far more nuanced than a simple one stage event, act or process. The reality is of course much, much more complicated. Each time you meet a new person, each time you move to a new town, each time you start a new job that process has to start again, from the beginning.

Coming out is never an enjoyable experience for me, no matter how many times I have to do it. Throughout my life, there have been few things that have terrified me more than coming out to new people. I am not yet actively or consciously come out to my parents, despite now being 23. So much of the time it seems much easier to sit in silence and not rock the boat rather being upfront with the truth, even if that truth forms an important, albeit not defining, part of my identity. Why would I choose to risk potential isolation and victimisation when things could sit so much more comfortably in ignorance?Continue Reading

THE PLACE FOR POETRY: PERFORMANCE

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by Carmina Masoliver

The Place for Poetry’ conference at Goldsmiths took place from the 7-8th May, and I attended it with She Grrrowls, as well as within my poetry collective, Kid Glove.

Hannah Silva, known for her success as a poet both on page and on stage, delivered her research on ‘Repositioning Performance.’ It was filled with quotations, energy, and analysis of a Salena Godden performance. Immediately it linked to the ever-complex discussion about the page/stage divide, connecting to Malika Booker’s paper later, as well as the She Grrrowls Q&A, whereby BME (Black and Minority Ethnic) poetry is positioned as ‘performance’ or ‘spoken word.’Continue Reading