Archive for the ‘Ladybusiness’ Category

Yet more reasons to Write Like A Grrrl!: January 2016 semester now booking…

Wednesday, December 2nd, 2015

Audre Lorde
(Photo credit)

You all know by now that I teach on the innovative and exciting all-female writing course Write Like A Grrrl!, right? We had such a good year in 2015… up here in Edinburgh I ran four semesters and every single one sold out, and things were much the same in London and Manchester, too. This summer we also cooked up our Next Step course, for women who’ve completed ‘original’ WLAG! and fancy a new challenge. (That has also gone pretty excellently.) A lot of words have been read and written and a lot of barriers-to-writing have been overcome; a lot of tea has been drunk and a lot of cake (I mean a lot) has been eaten. And now I’m ready to start all over again in 2016!

WLAG! Edinburgh begins its new semester on Monday 18th January, and places are already getting booked up. There’s only space for twelve women on each course, so I suggest you get moving! If you click through to the booking site, you’ll see that you have the option to pay a deposit now and the rest later. Or you can also buy a space on WLAG! Edinburgh for a friend for Christmas.

Now convinced yet? Here are some (honest-to-god totally real and undoctored — really!) very nice testimonials from women who completed the most recent WLAG! course in September 2015:

What was most useful? Checking in every week even if [our writing] didn’t go well. That block-by-block approach is really good. And I like that you don’t have to share work yet.

Do it! Amazing value for money, really great to have a space for writing every week in your life, and a brilliant support network. Claire is a great tutor. Plus, I like that it’s variable: it can work for you whether you have small or big goals for [your writing].

I would highly recommend WLAG! It’s a very friendly environment and a great motivation to just start writing. Before, I’d started losing focus with my writing, but now I feel confident to keep going!

It’s amazing being able to talk and share stuff with other women who have a lot of the same experiences, it’s been so productive. Definitely do it! I was totally new to creative writing before, and I had a bit of anxiety about being a bit of a fraud. But I’ve found everything to be so inclusive, totally without judgement, and so as a result I’ve been able to learn and develop — and most importantly, to actually start a writing habit. Also: Claire! Best ever.

It was useful hearing about what everyone is doing and that everyone faces common challenges — [writing] doesn’t come totally naturally to everyone and there is comfort in that. I feel optimistic, energised, and more knowledgeable now.

Join! I think it’s a great course, and unique in its approach to creative writing. There’s loads of practical and very helpful advice to apply to existing work, as well as helping to generate new ideas.

Absolutely do it! Claire is a brilliant, inspiring, encouraging tutor. In only 6 weeks, I feel that my confidence has really increased. The things I’ve learned have made me feel excited about taking on my next project(s)!

What more do you need? Get over there and book already! All women — and I mean all women — are welcome!

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You should read this! Mixing The Colours: Women Speaking About Sectarianism anthology

Monday, April 6th, 2015

A couple of weeks ago I was lucky enough to be invited to Glasgow Women’s Library’s brilliant Mixing The Colours Conference 2015. Mixing The Colours: Women Speaking About Sectarianism is a groundbreaking project, which has been running for about two years now, funded by the Scottish Government and designed to get women talking about one of Scotland’s most taboo subjects. The conference was an amazing day of discussion, performance and ideas, but importantly, it was also the launch-day of the project’s amazing anthology of women’s writing.

I’ve also been working on a project designed to tackle sectarianism: until just a few days ago, when the project reached completion, I was the Project Co-Ordinator for Scottish Book Trust’s graphic novel project Walk The Walk. I worked reasonably closely with staff from Mixing The Colours throughout that project, and so came to see clearly the various ways in which women’s voices have traditionally been erased from discussions about sectarianism.

Think about it for a second. When you read a newspaper article about a story relating to sectarianism, what is the accompanying photo usually of? Chances are, a stand full of male football fans. Perhaps a line of police personnel in their yellow jackets. There might be the odd female face or two if you squint closely, but traditionally, sectarianism in Scotland is considered a “men’s issue,” and all too often, seen as synonymous with football. I’m sure you’ll agree that this hurts men as well as women.

Thankfully, we now have the truly amazing Mixing The Colours: Women Speaking About Sectarianism anthology to add to the conversation. It features poetry, memoir, fiction and drama, all exploring individual women’s responses to their experiences of sectarianism. My favourite story is ‘Paddy,’ written by Ethyl Smith — a bittersweet tale of a young girl who is unwittingly caught up in the sectarianism that exists between two of her adult neighbours, all because she wants to be friends with a wee dog. But every piece in the book is brilliant, and important, and merits reading, re-reading and sharing.

You can get a look at the book by heading over to Glasgow Women’s Library’s stunning new(ish) home in Bridgeton, Glasgow. GWL is located in what was once the Bridgeton Men’s Reading Room, which I find rather delicious. The Mixing The Colours team have also been steadily gathering a collection of other resources that examine women’s reactions to sectarianism, so while you’re there, you can browse the whole lot.

Finally, the Mixing The Colours film gives a taster of what’s inside the book, and as you can see from my conference notes above, gives plenty of food for thought! Here’s a trailer:

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Like shiny things? Check out Edinburgh Vintage, a totally unrelated ’sister site’ full of jewels, treasures and trinkets. If you want to get in touch you can follow OneNightStanzas on Twitter, or email claire[at]onenightstanzas.com. I reply as swiftly as I can!

You should read this: Hallelujah for 50ft Women

Tuesday, March 31st, 2015

Content note: discussion of sex essentialism.

If you know me at all, then you know I like a good women-only space. I’m currently teaching on the brilliant all-female fiction writing course Write Like A Grrrl!; Making It Home was an almost entirely all-female endeavour; and although I love working with folks of all genders, there’s something a bit special about getting a room full of self-identifying women together and seeing what they can achieve.

For that reason, I am pretty excited to have a poem in the brand new Bloodaxe anthology Hallelujah for 50ft Women, which is edited by the [in]famous female performance troupe Raving Beauties. It’s a pretty stunning looking book, as I’m sure you’ll agree — I’m loving the purple colour, and the typefaces!

The theme of the book is ‘women talking about their relationship(s) with their bodies,’ and my poem, ‘High School,’ is kind of about body dysmorphia, kind of about female competition, but also kind of about the fact that I knew a bunch of really bitchy girls when I was a teenager. I was pretty gobsmacked that it got picked, and even more gobsmacked when I saw it included alongside such truly legendary poets as Lucille Clifton, Jean ‘Binta’ Breeze, Sharon Olds and Grace Nichols. Also in there are Warsan Shire, who’s everywhere at the moment and seemingly exceptionally cool, and Patricia Lockwood, of the brilliant — and mega-viral — poem Rape Joke.

I’d really encourage you to buy this book for the truly wide-ranging variety of poetic voices therein. The poets in here are some talented women and their work deserves reading. However, I feel I must apologise to my trans, genderqueer and non-binary friends for some of the content from the introduction. I’m sure it wasn’t intended to be read as essentialism, but I did feel a bit queasy about the “all women have c*nts” overtones in there. I mean, yay for female bodies, and yay let’s not be squeamish about them! But had it been my introduction to write? I’d've been underlining the important fact that not all women’s bodies look or behave in the same ways, or have the same bits.

Happily, I believe the poems themselves make it only too clear that women’s bodies are all different, and all awesome — in fact, they’re awesome in their differentness to one another. Have a read! You might well discover a new favourite female poet!

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Like shiny things? Check out Edinburgh Vintage, a totally unrelated ’sister site’ full of jewels, treasures and trinkets. If you want to get in touch you can follow OneNightStanzas on Twitter, or email claire[at]onenightstanzas.com. I reply as swiftly as I can!

Attention women writers! Brand new writing opportunity in Edinburgh!

Tuesday, December 2nd, 2014

Writing ♥
(Photo credit)

Hello, friends!

I am very excited to announce that from January 2015, I will be delivering the innovative all-female fiction writing class Write Like A Grrrl.

Write Like A Grrrl is already established in London, and a Manchester class is starting up shortly. But I thought it would be very sad if all the brilliant female writers north of the border were unable to take part, so I pitched myself to the lovely people at For Books’ Sake as a potential Scotland-based tutor. After some very excitable chats — and some training in the ins and outs of the course, natch — they signed me up! Now all I need is for YOU to come and join me!

Write Like A Grrrl is open to any self-identifying woman who writes fiction, or would like to write fiction. As well as helping you make your writing as brilliant as it can be — focussing on the essential stuff like characterisation and dialogue — the course also empowers women writers to beat procrastination and create that precious thing, productive writing time!

The Edinburgh course begins on 24th January and runs for six weeks — so if you’re planning to make “do more writing” one of your New Year’s Resolutions for 2015, then Write Like A Grrrl might just be perfect for you!

The venue is the cozy back room at Boda, which — for those of you have never been there before — is full of comfy couches, and a perfect space for chatting about writing and sharing ideas. The course is six weeks long and runs for six consecutive Saturdays, from 24th January 2015, between 12.30pm and 2.30pm.

The Write Like A Grrrl: Edinburgh website has all the info you need, and you can book your place using the drop-down menu, too!

Please do join me! I’d love to see you there!

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Like shiny things? Check out Edinburgh Vintage, a totally unrelated ’sister site’ full of jewels, treasures and trinkets. If you want to get in touch you can follow OneNightStanzas on Twitter, or email claire[at]onenightstanzas.com. I reply as swiftly as I can!

You should read this: “Furies, A Poetry Anthology of Women Warriors”

Monday, September 29th, 2014

Furies Poetry Anthology #FBSFuries

2014 is the year of the #ReadWomen2014 campaign. It’s sad that such a campaign exists in the twenty-first century, to be honest… how the heck can it be that we still live in a world where men who write are “writers,” but women who write are “female writers”? Just the other day, a friend of mine asked their Facebook friends for recommendations of poetry to read… and the first fifteen or so recommendations were all for male poets. When I queried this, one of the commenters responded, “well, [person who requested poetry] has just been through a binge of reading women, so I didn’t recommend any!” It’s a weird attitude, but it’s alarmingly common: most of the time you read, and then sometimes you read women.

It’s because of these bizarrely 1950s-style attitudes (and this is all before you get to the really depressing stuff, like the VIDA count or this, by the way) that I am always keen to get involved in projects that promote and encourage the work of women writers. Furies, the first ever poetry book from the brilliant all-female book-geek’s dream that is For Books’ Sake, is very much one such project.

This is the poetry of wronged and revolutionary women, the new verse that emerges when poets take a sinner and spin her anew. Here, Furies arise from history and myth to set the story straight once and for all. For many, the Lazarus trick spans only the space of a verse in which they tell their tale. The rest of the resurrection, the living on beyond the page, relies on the reader to keep telling and retelling, and then telling once more. Traditionally, ghosts haunt because they still have something left to say. This is their stage.

FURIES is the first poetry collection from For Books’ Sake, compiled following an open call for submissions that attracted over 700 entries from across the globe… all profits from the collection (a minimum of £5 per copy) will be donated to Rape Crisis England & Wales.

Furies Poetry Anthology #FBSFuries

Furies Poetry Anthology #FBSFuries

Furies features my poem Poltergeistrix, which you can also hear a recording of right here — and I get a rather lovely mention in the introduction. Always a little anthology bonus! If you want to read the whole poem — and of course, the many other fine poems by other women warriors! — you can order your copy of the anthology here.

Furies Poetry Anthology #FBSFuries

This is what a woman warrior looks like.
Apparently.

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Like shiny things? Check out Edinburgh Vintage, a totally unrelated ’sister site’ full of jewels, treasures and trinkets. If you want to get in touch you can follow OneNightStanzas on Twitter, or email claire[at]onenightstanzas.com. I reply as swiftly as I can!

Making It Home: my photos, my thank yous, and the project films

Monday, September 16th, 2013

Sheena, Making it Home at the Scottish Storytelling Centre

The Making It Home Project officially “ended” in June 2013 (I put “ended” in quotemarks because of course such a project never ends — our films are still being seen by interested eyeballs and there are still ideas for events and other exciting follow-up things in the works. Hopefully more on that soon!). I’d meant to write this post then, as things wrapped up. Then life got in the way, as life likes to do. But I didn’t forget about the post…

Mainly, I wanted to share some of the photos I took at the various MIH events in June, when we took our inspiring band of powerhouse women on the road to showcase their work. For folks not involved in the project, these just look like photos of people… but they’re a testament to the great achievements of everyone involved in the project.

Up at the top there, for example, is Sheena, one of our fabulous filmmaking women. In the photo, she’s addressing the Scottish Storytelling Centre’s cinema/lecture theatre, full of folks who came to their screening of our films. In this photo, she looks like the world expert in her field… because she is. All the women who took part in our project can now call themselves experts in the field of filmmaking. How cool is that?

Making it Home at the Scottish Storytelling Centre

Making it Home at the Scottish Storytelling Centre

Sheena and Stacey, Making it Home Farewell Party at NEA

Some of our women hanging out at our various events. Only a year ago they’d never met, and many of them were daunted by the prospect of working together, especially when filmmaking was such an unknown quantity. In next to no time, however, they formed a hugely productive creative community, achieving gobsmacking things. They — heck, we! I include myself here 100%! — have also formed friendships that, I hope, will last lifetimes. I want to thank all of them equally for their hard work, their courage in the face of the scary cameras and sometimes-tricky conversations, and the wicked humour and energy they deployed throughout. You guys made films that changed the way people (myself included) looked at the world. AMAZING!

Rema, Making it Home at the Scottish Storytelling Centre

Here’s Rema Sherifi, who’s of the most impressive women I have ever met. (Seriously. Just look at her story.) Rema runs the Maryhill Integration Network, where she’s made a difference to hundreds of lives. Without Rema’s expert guidance and great wisdom, our project could never have happened.

Esa, Making it Home at the Scottish Storytelling Centre

Here’s Esa Aldegheri, our brilliant project leader and another super inspiring woman! Throughout the project, she’s been a quiet but vital presence, doing constant hard work behind the scenes, tirelessly plotting and preparing so that the rest of us could carry out our work with minimal disruption. I wish I had even a tenth of her patience and calm… I’m basically convinced that Esa could (and should) run the world! Can we make this happen, please?

Lynda and Vilte, Making it Home Farewell Party at NEA

Lynda Peachey (left) was my closest “co-worker” on the project, and basically, my rock (I mean it) whenever things went wrong. She was always ready with a cup of tea, a filthy joke, or some sage advice whenever and wherever it was needed. She was also there with hugs and smiles when things went right, which is just as important! I’m starting to keep a mental list of the various Wise Women in my life, and Lynda tops that list.
And Vilte Vaitkute (right) is just a sickmakingly talented filmmaker and facilitator of all-things-film-related. While the rest of us get all nostalgic about this great project coming to a close, Vilte’s still working hard to keep our films in circulation, and to get new eyeballs in all sorts of exciting places to see them. Her colleague Catherine Weir — who managed to avoid all my photos! — also deserves tons of credit for this work. They’re a fearsome and brilliant team!

Jane, Making it Home at the Scottish Storytelling Centre

A few more fine folks who deserve praise: first up, Jane McKie, who some of you may already know as a bloody excellent poet, winner of the Edwin Morgan Poetry Prize and all sorts of other accolades. Jane worked as my opposite number on the project, working her magic in Maryhill while I kept an eye on things in Pilton. I feel really privileged to have worked with such a fine poet and such a genuinely lovely person. Thank you, Jane!

Rachel, Making it Home at the Scottish Storytelling Centre

Next up, Rachel Farrier — who looks like a 1940s movie star all the time, incidentally, not just in this photo! Rachel was another vital presence on the project, working away tirelessly to make our lives as straightforward as possible. She also co-ordinated much of our events tour in June, and got loads of real actual human beings to come and sit in seats and watch the films the women made. Massive props to her partner in crime David Farrier, too — another person who apparently avoided my camera at all times, but who deserves to be warmly thanked and celebrated here nevertheless!

Lucinda, Making it Home Farewell Party at NEA

Lucinda Broadbent is another of these women who’s so impressive you feel like you ought to be a bit frightened of them. Look at all the amazing stuff she’s done! However, being frightened of someone so warm and smiley is rather tricky. Instead you just feel chuffed to have met and worked with such a total pro.

Sheena and Stacey speak at the Making it Home Farewell Party at NEA

And last but by no means least is Alison Hughes, who was at my side almost every minute of the project, making sure that the women and I had all the help and support we needed. Without Alison’s presence, I would have felt considerably less confident in our various workshops and discussion sessions — lady, you really were invaluable. (PS: Alison is also a GREAT yoga teacher, and if you’re in Edinburgh, you should go to her classes!)

Finally, I need to thank everyone else who was even vaguely involved with making this project work — staff from Maryhill Integration Network and the Pilton Community Health Project; all the folks from our partner organisations who aren’t mentioned here; Alan Lennon, and all our Sponsume donors, who helped make our book a reality… and any friend or family member who supported anyone involved as we worked through our exhausting and rewarding year!

Ahlam, Augusta, Lucinda and the MIH posse, Making it Home Farewell Party at NEA

Here we all are, dancing with proper, unfettered joy at our final screening and farewell bash. If you’ve read this far, you surely want to see what all the fuss is about… please do scroll down and take the time to watch the four films that the fabulous folks above all worked incredibly hard to create. (You can also watch the Making Of Making It Home right down at the bottom.) If you like what you see — if these films make you laugh, cry, think differently about the world — please do pass them on, share them, and widen the conversation. The wonderful women of Making It Home made these films for you. I hope you love them.


“The Shortest and Sweetest of Songs,” by Team Sami, Maryhill


“It Could Happen To You,” by the Dream Team, Pilton


“Choice,” by Team Choice, Maryhill


“Come Home,” by The Sweeties, Pilton


The Making of Making It Home

Budding writer? Creative person in need of a fun job? Check out the various resources and services at Bookworm Tutors. Alternatively, check out Edinburgh Vintage, our sister site. If you want to get in touch you can follow OneNightStanzas on Twitter, or email claire[at]onenightstanzas.com. I reply as swiftly as I can!