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