I mostly read The Breakup Monologues: The Unexpected Joy of Heartbreak over the course of one weekend, author and comedian Rosie Wilby’s conversational stage persona making it easily digestible and impossible to put down on a sunny weekend with few commitments. Mirroring the non-linear nature of breakups, the book flits back and forth in time, marked B.G. (Before Girlfriend) and A.G. (After Girlfriend). Using ever-changing vocabulary to describe a number of different ‘ghosting’ methods, the book delves into Wilby’s dating and breakup history, alongside incredulous anecdotes from others. The driving point of the book, inspired by the podcast of the same name, is that each breakup can teach us something. Despite this, the romantic in me can’t help but hope that Wilby, equipped with the knowledge and experience of past relationships, might find a happy ever after with Girlfriend. With this mixed sense of hope and impending doom, the book itself mirrors the structure of an uncertain relationship.
August saw the five-year anniversary of Lauren Kaye’s ‘I’m All In’, a poetry collection described as a ‘seductive collection of romantic and sensual poems that speak on the inevitable episodes of love, sex and relationships’. The occasion was marked on social media – at a time where artists are forced to be more resourceful than ever when the stage is taken away. As Kaye outlines in the introduction, her poetry ‘is written much how I speak’, and it is best to have seen her live or see live videos so you can then hear her voice as you read coming through the pages.
When I first saw Soltera Codiciada advertised on Netflix, its title was translated into English from Spanish as ‘How to Get Over a Break-Up’. The title drew me in for personal reasons, having had my long-term relationship end last year. The plot revolves around a heartbroken ad copywriter who begins blogging about her life as a single woman, whose writing pastime turns into a huge success. The English title bears little resemblance to the Spanish title, for which it was difficult to find a direct translation. A Peruvian comedy from Bruno Ascenzo and Joanna Lombardi, the original title shares the same name with the protagonist’s blog and when I asked around, the most likely meaning was as a positive description of a single woman. Infused with the spirit of Beyoncé’s Single Ladies, it is a film that allows us to laugh at the tragedy of lost love.
By Nicholl Hardwick, for The Grow Organisation
In contemporary Britain, our lives are pervaded with unique health and economic pressures. Capitalism, globalisation, Brexit and the internet have all contributed to a new era of loneliness, community isolation and disconnectedness. We may go days at a time without speaking or having sentimental engagement with another person. In particular, elderly members of the community frequently fall to the wayside as our distancing society ceases to encourage them to function as active participants.
Part 1 of 2
Women of the World (WOW) Festival is always place for stimulating and challenging debate on important issues of the day. It was a privilege to be involved this year with my own segment with She Grrrowls as part of Gem’s Jam on the Sunday, featuring poets Bridget Minamore and Selina Nwulu, with live music from Roxanne Tatae and DJ sets from Born N Bread, Jamz Supernova, and host Gemma Cairney.
I also sat in on three very different panel discussions. I focus on only two panels, as the third, Testimony, included confidential accounts of women’s experiences of rape – an important and powerful space for their stories to be shared. I will dedicate this part one to the first panel I attended:
If you’ve seen Rosie Wilby on stage, or come across some of her recent articles, you may be aware of her exploration of monogamy and non-monogamy in relationships. This complex issue is the focus of her new book: Is Monogamy Dead? A provocative title in itself, as a book that is part memoir and part research, it succeeds in its aims to both entertain and critique traditional relationship models. As a stand-up comic, Wilby has appeared at many festivals from Glastonbury to Edinburgh, and there are many stories in the book that have me laughing out loud. Yet, as with the best comedic work, it succeeds in not only being humorous but is also delivered with real poignancy.
Dating has changed a lot over the last few decades. In the time before dating apps, people would meet at work, in cafés, or via friends or family. It may seem like a simpler time, but it did mean that the variety of people for you to meet was limited to your direct community. I think you would be lucky to find ‘the one’ when there is a world full of possible ‘ones’. As Tim Minchin so eloquently said, “If I didn’t have you, I’d probably have somebody else”.
by Finn Northrop
Trigger warning: Rape, sexual assault and domestic violence
Last week was Mental Health Awareness Week, and each year this presents a fantastic opportunity for huge numbers of committed activists to not only raise awareness of a variety of mental health conditions but also to promote self-care and self-help methods, and to give people the bravery to seek help – whether that means reaching out to close friends or taking to the step of going to their GPs and seeing what services are available to them.
I have a strange memory of Christina Aguilera performing Genie in a Bottle on Top of the Pops and my dad asking if I liked her songs. Strange, because it’s so unremarkable to be kept inside my head. At this stage I her career, she had made her big break, and soon enough I was listening to her album, with hits such as What a Girls Wants and Come On Over (All I Want Is You). Yet, it was three years later, when she released what I will always think of as her best album: Stripped.
I was having a hard time at school, and listening to this album was the very definition of empowering. I had been pushed out of a friendship group during a time where looking back, I honestly believe I was depressed, and this escalated to the extent where I felt I was a target for lots of different groups at school. I did make some new friends, and remember connecting with one of them through a shared love of this album. This was before we had learnt to talk about why it is that Beautiful holds so much resonance with us, but fourteen years later and we are still friends, now sharing a love of bell hooks.