Lustful Feminist Killjoys: Anna Percy and Rebecca Audra Smith, Flapjack
These two poets, both with links to Manchester Metropolitan University, are the brains behind Stirred – the feminist collective that runs poetry workshops and performances and works out of the city’s admirable Three Minute Theatre space. And despite the ironic title of this book they are an absolute joy to read. This feisty bundle of raucous, provocative, tender, funny and sexy poems is a feast. I dare you to read some of these and not laugh out loud or whoop and holler.
We attempt to stop overusing
the word ‘sorry’.
We are guilty of lust
and we revel in it.
We are allowed to contradict ourselves
as we find out
what we mean to say.
‘Femifesto’ (by Percy and Smith)
Several of the poems reference works of art or books, and sometimes we see the women’s individual take on the same inspiration. Both shine a light on women’s bodies, their own bodies, often through clothes. Smith writes shimmeringly of a shiny skirt as it sleeks over her skin.
I am alone with my giddy treat, my slippery whims.
Who knows where my hands will stray,
whether I will press my lips to its sheen,
tongue its smooth glide? I’ve never been in love with a skirt before.
‘Silver Fish’ (Rebecca Audra Smith)
I never tell you about how hard it is to leave the house some days,
how I am late because I changed my clothes and make up
a dozen times till I felt acceptable,
like this body and this skin is acceptable.
I walk tall with my back straight because I want everyone who sees
to know I think this body is alright, this body is gorgeous,
this body is beautiful and that dress
that didn’t make it out of the house last week
is my new favourite.
‘Why I Don’t Tell You I Feel Bad About My Body’ (Anna Percy)
I love Percy’s ‘Dear Poem’ – every poet and writer will identify with it immediately and to quote just one bit from it would be unfair. And her 'Feminist Velocipedestriennes', which a colleague commented needs to be read aloud. It is a showstopper. Smith’s ‘Cunt Artist Boyfriend’ is one which I read aloud to myself (and to my cats).
He told her, keep it neat and tidy.
She thinks, same as the kitchen,
same as the sink.
She combines Brazilian and basic bikini.
It’s a shame that she leaves wet sponges
damply lining the kitchen sink.
Day in and out the chores remain.
Monthly hair waxes and wanes.
He congratulates her, you’ve kept it tidy.
All but the kitchen sink.
As an addendum (although it is actually a foreword to the book) I highly recommend the question and answer session by Percy and Smith, with questions ranging from “what is your favourite cheese” and “why do you keep using the word ‘cunt’ ” to a very educational bit about the best pens to use for writing (a favourite topic of mine). A corker of a collection.