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#MeToo movement leads to women's poetry anthology

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A wave of anger and solidarity among women worldwide that began with the Hollywood revelations about film producer Harvey Weinstein’s alleged sexual harassment and assaults have led to an anthology of poetry, to be launched on International Women’s Day.  

The anthology is titled #MeToo, the two-word hashtag that was used on social media to spread the word and share experiences about the extent of sexual assault and harassment, especially in the workplace. It is edited by poet Deborah Alma, with a foreword by MP Jess Phillips.

Deborah Alma, aka The Emergency Poet, said: “This book came straight out of a long thread on my Facebook page. I asked women friends of mine to add their name on the thread if they hadn’t experienced any form of sexual harassment in their lives and I was surprised to find that of the 200 women that started to share some of their stories , two or three could say that it had never happened to them. My surprise was not that there were so few, but that there were any women at all.

“Someone suggested we collect these stories … I am very proud of this book, proud of the poets for sharing and for putting their names to their words. It is a painful and difficult read a great deal of the time, I get that. But taken slowly, I hope that the reader will hear its rallying cry of anger and impatience. We have had enough. The final section of the book deals with a coming back to the light; they are poems of recovery and strength out of some very dark places.” 

She added: “All of the artwork for the book, the cover and internal illustrations, the poems, the editing and publishing work has been donated. It has been a wonderful collective enterprise.”

The anthology contains the work of 80 women poets. All proceeds of the book, which will cost £10, will go to Women’s Aid UK. It will be launched on 8 March, International Women’s Day, at Waterstone’s in Tottenham Court Road, London, and at the Stanza poetry festival in St Andrews. It is published by Fair Acre Press.  



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Claire Leavey

Tue 30th Jan 2018 12:47

MC Newberry:

"comment of Saturday 27th January - to which I will add "no matter what the medium or means utilised to advance a cause, complaint or argument." " - where is the cause, complaint or argument here? This is a book review. A review of a book which you have not yet read. The book contains poems of personal testimony from women who have been attacked in a variety of different ways. There is, indeed, an account featuring a female perpetrator. Many of these accounts are from childhood or from within toxic marriages. If you consider that these thoughtfully curated witness statements are being 'utilised to advance a cause, complaint or argument', then please also consider that they are being so utilised by the first-hand victims of the various attacks. These women are engaged in expressing and sharing - many for the first time - their deep and difficult trauma.

"Enlightenment is not a one way street when discussing contentious issues" - please do point me towards this alleged enlightenment because I think this discussion is in increasing need of some. And what, I would question, is even remotely contentious about the fact that women are routinely disrespected and interfered with by people ranging from relations to acquaintances to strangers?

"Over many years I've dealt with all the sorts of behaviour
complained of, including false accusations by women
against men, up to and including rape, and I'd have got
nowhere if I'd assumed a single minded belief in dealing
with any of them." - If any volume concentrating on allegations by men about distressing/appalling behaviour by women was put in the public domain, I'd be using the same approach that seems so offensive to you here!" - I very much look forward to reading the book you doubtless plan to edit around this experience, then. You will of course publish (as here) at your own expense, and thanks to a range of professional services donated free by the horde of fellow-survivors you will no doubt have little trouble rallying in such a worthwhile cause. You will of course be donating all profits to the masculine equivalent of Women's Aid, the charity benefiting from #MeToo. I have no doubt that you are already a supporter of the excellent organisation CALM. If not, you can find out how you can assist them here:

I look forward very much to reading the reviews. Perhaps, though, not the comments.

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M.C. Newberry

Tue 30th Jan 2018 02:07

Dear Claire Leavey - please refer to my comment of Saturday 27th January - to which I will add "no matter
what the medium or means utilised to advance a cause,
complaint or argument." Enlightenment is not a one way
street when discussing contentious issues...and discussing
is the operative word here.
Over many years I've dealt with all the sorts of behaviour
complained of, including false accusations by women
against men, up to and including rape, and I'd have got
nowhere if I'd assumed a single minded belief in dealing
with any of them.
If any volume concentrating on allegations by men about distressing/appalling behaviour by women was put in the public domain, I'd be using the same approach that
seems so offensive to you here!
Thank you.

Claire Leavey

Mon 29th Jan 2018 19:14

I must start by saying thank you to all the sane, humane men who have added their voices to this comment thread - but my god, Mr Newberry, you seem intent on minimising and discrediting the content of this volume despite the minor inconvenience of not yet having had the opportunity to read it! I am a contributor, and so have seen a draft. There are indeed some mildly irritant straying hands in this book, but there is also coercive control and domestic violence - and there is every variety of rape. There are also testimonies from people who didn't initially realise that they had been subjected to legally-defined assaults because less pernicious behaviours on the very broad harassment/assault scale are so frequently excused and normalised. We are all fully aware that there is a world of difference between a friendly pat on the bum and a painful grab at the pudenda or breast. We know the boundaries, in both directions, whether we are male or female. And our objection to this treatment is nothing new - witness the formally instructed hat-pin self-defence of the early Edwardian period ( The only new thing here is that we are now comparing notes, every one of us amazed to find that we weren't the isolated 'victims' we thought we were, but that the woman who *hasn't* been somehow interfered with by an entitled man is in fact a rare and exotic creature. Please do take the trouble to research the topic before embarrassing yourself further.

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M.C. Newberry

Mon 29th Jan 2018 02:30

SW - fair comment.
But there does seem to be a current "bandwagon" media
campaign that would seem to place this chancy behaviour
on a par with far worse things that are happening. And it
is interesting that any similar behaviour towards men by
women doesn't rate the same reaction. There is even a
TV ad. which fades on the image of a woman reaching
down and patting a male companion on the backside.
Are men expected to feel complimented whilst women feel
imposed upon if subject to the same sort of physical
approach? I suppose my basic misgiving focusses on the
magnification of masculine manifestations of vain hope over expectation in party-style artificial surroundings and
circumstances - removed from the constraints of day to
day demands of expected social conduct.
What's good for the gooser should be good for the goose!

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Steven Waling

Sun 28th Jan 2018 16:24

"What do women want?" - different things I suspect. I've got this strange idea (don't know where it camw from, but, y'know, you pick these things up...) that they don't want to be groped, patronised or treated as second class citizens by men who think they're entitled to a quick feel.

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M.C. Newberry

Sat 27th Jan 2018 16:05

Taking a position in the court of public opinion is never
absolved from comment and question. Nor should it be.

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David Blake

Sat 27th Jan 2018 02:06

To the opening comment...yes, there is a marked difference between simple politeness and actual harassment. Leaping to the conclusion that this is the attitude of some kind of 'united front' of feminism doesn't look too clever or wise a remark to venture.

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M.C. Newberry

Fri 26th Jan 2018 17:44

My own late mother was enough of a strong person to
bear her husband 7 children and survive his grievous
early death (at 50) - to survive and see those offspring
into adult life in a so-called (quote) "aggressively
masculinist world".
Online is a quote from Germaine Greer which adds
to the pot and is repudiated by the female Guardian
writer who brings it to attention; perhaps no surprise
when considering the present focus on such things.
"Back in the day, a leering man was considered by all
sensible women to be less of a threat than a fool. We
weren't afraid of him and we weren't afraid to slap him down." And that's why men took their chances when
taking the initiative in any scenario involving the sexes.
It is the awkward truth that there has always been and
will probably continue to be difficulty in the meeting of
the sexes in expectation and co-habitation, in hopes
and aspirations. Respect and reason have always been
around as can be seen in most day to day lives - and
in my 8th decade it's pleasing to gain a polite response
from any woman of any age when adopting the courtesies
I was taught by the women in my own family in a country that has women occupying the highest positions in
society and business.
After you....

Claire Leavey

Thu 25th Jan 2018 21:54

I'm confused by Mr Newberry's comment. Not surprising, really, given that I only have a single puny female brain, and it's under enough strain as it is, what with rising to the tremendously butch exercise of reading real human words and interpreting their meanings and all. It would have been so much more helpful if his first sentence had contained a subject rather than a rather nebulous definite article, and even better if the 'view' in his first sentence had come with some actual feminists holding it, rather than just an adverb. The only thing I can see that is being held by an actual person in this comment is of course the door, doubtless growing limp after several decades standing ajar in the clammy grip of some poor rejected man who is plainly almost as confused as I am, only not so much by imprecise use of language, but more by being asked to hold the door for such a large number of women to whom he has never even so much as been introduced! Adding to his confusion and sense of rejection is no doubt the inexplicable fury of this harpie phalanx, who are apparently so mightily aggrieved by persistent male interference in their everyday lives that they are suddenly saying what they think for a change, and not keeping politely quiet as their mothers (knowing the potential penalties for speaking plainly in an aggressively masculinist world) so wisely cautioned. As for the question 'what do women want?', I'd suggest anyone who persists in enduring a confusion that is not specifically related to the use of language may care to acquire a copy of this excellent book and digest its contents. It is really rather informative. Especially to anyone who still thinks that all women move as one, all want the same thing, and operate some kind of rota system in sharing a single bland persona. Prepare to be startled! Amazed! And educated.

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M.C. Newberry

Thu 25th Jan 2018 16:24

Does this go hand-in-hand with the feminist view that
rejected men holding a door open for a woman or rising
from his seat in their company, or other acts of respect
that were encouraged by their mothers? Perhaps it is
for increasingly confused men to enquire of today's women: "Who are You?".
Or as a film title once asked: "What Do Women Want?".

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