Archive for June, 2011

STARRY RHYMES: now available for purchase!

Thursday, June 9th, 2011

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Apologies for the delay in posting these details — I know you’ve all been waiting with baited breath! STARRY RHYMES is finally available to purchase, right here, for the bargain price of £5 plus P&P!

You probably know by now what STARRY RHYMES is all about — but if not, check out our submissions call to see what it was we were looking for! We received nearly 150 emails to register interest in the project, and over 130 poems were submitted. After much deliberation, we managed to whittle these down to just 33. You can find out a bit about the folk whose poems we picked here.

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Each copy of STARRY RHYMES is printed on high quality 80gsm white paper, and has a unique, handmade cream cardstock cover. No copy is quite the same as the others! Each was lovingly hand-cut and stapled to produce a limited single printing of 140. 33 of these went to our fabulous contributors, and we sold a huge pile of them on our rather raucous launch night (check out Chris Scott’s amazing photos from the event here!)… so these books are disappearing fast!

If you’d like a copy, they’re only a fiver plus P&P, and you can get your hands on one right here. Just click the Paypal button below and follow the instructions! No Paypal account required — if you’re not registered, just pay with your card as you would elsewhere online.

STARRY RHYMES is a product of Read This Press, a DIY micropress specialising in limited edition print runs of handmade poetry pamphlet anthologies and collections. RTP is run by poets/teachers/Edinburgh residents Claire Askew and Stephen Welsh. It is not unknown for us to be described as a “punk” press. We particularly like poets who are new/unknown/upcoming, intimidatingly well-read, and tattooed.

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Press release: the first Edinburgh Solidarity Slutwalk, 18th June 2011

Thursday, June 2nd, 2011

[Trigger warning: rape and sexual assault, victim blaming and rape apologia]

To help out with PR for the above event, I’ve written a press release about the forthcoming Solidarity Slutwalk (Fb events here and here). It’s already been posted by the “Together we can stop it” campaign blog. If you would like to spread the word about the event, please feel free to use this release on your blog/site/other publication. Just give a wee credit (see the bio at the bottom). Hope to see many of you there.

From 1.30pm on Saturday 18th June, Edinburgh’s first ever Solidarity Slutwalk will wend its way through the Scottish capital’s streets in a bid to raise awareness about commonly-held attitudes towards rape and sexual assault.

The “Slutwalk” concept is a new one. The first took place in Toronto in early 2011, following intense media scrutiny over misogynistic comments made by a local police officer. Michael Sanguinetti was supposed to be advising students on the subject of personal safety when he decided to stop “beating around the bush”, and advised the women present to “stop dressing like sluts” in order to avoid sexual assault.

The “Slutwalk” trend has been growing rapidly ever since. Slutwalks have now been held in several major cities and more are being planned by the day. However, there is nothing new or even particularly unusual about Sanguinetti’s attitude towards sexual assault. For as long as rape and sexual assault have been topics for open discussion, people – and by no means just men – have been lining up around the block to blame the victims, and to place the responsibility for policing and preventing such incidents squarely at the feet of women.

Rape apologists and victim blamers are many, and the reasoning behind their attitudes differs from each to each. I once got into a heated debate with a man my age who claimed that “if all women took self-defence classes, rapists would be completely deterred”. Other common arguments suggest that if a woman has been drinking, or has flirted with or kissed her would-be rapist, then the subsequent attack is “her own fault”, and indeed “to be expected.” But one of the most common examples of victim blaming is the argument that says if a woman wears a short skirt, tight dress, low cut top, high heels or anything else that might make her appear sexually attractive, then she’s putting herself at risk and “deserves” to be raped.

Such arguments are truly ridiculous. They wilfully ignore the fact, for a start, that not only women get raped. They seem to suggest that wearing jeans and a baggy sweater will automatically protect women from being attacked. They belittle and disregard the very real pain and anguish of rape and sexual assault survivors – many of whom were attacked in their own homes, or by someone they knew well, or while wearing sweatpants and trainers. By dictating what women should and should not wear and do in public they seek to limit women’s agency and freedom. Such victim-blaming reduces women to a state of constant fear (fear of walking alone, fear of visiting unfamiliar places, fear of appearing “slutty”), but does nothing to solve the actual problem – not that women invite rape, but that rapists rape people.

Slutwalks are a way of raising awareness about these attitudes. Some Slutwalk attendees choose to don the kind of dress that is routinely dismissed as “slutty” or “inviting”; some claim they are trying to reclaim the word “slut” and therefore remove its potency for victim blamers; others carry placards or buckets to collect money for women’s aid and survivor charities. But what all Slutwalk attendees are doing is making the issue visible, and open for debate. So many ordinary people espouse extraordinary and highly damaging opinions about rape and sexual assault – those outlined above are just a few examples. By walking through the streets proudly, by disrupting the status quo and forcing people to think about their preconceived ideas, even for just a second, Slutwalks are a step on the way to radically shifting the way we think about rape.

Join the Edinburgh Slutwalk: 1.30pm, Saturday 18th June 2011. Gather at West Parliament Square, Edinburgh. For more info, visit @slutwalkscots on Twitter.


Claire Askew is a poet, teacher and blogger from Edinburgh. Her work has featured in numerous publications including The Herald, The Guardian and The Observer. She works as a lecturer at Edinburgh’s Telford College and is currently reading for a PhD in Creative Writing and Contemporary Scottish Women’s Poetry at the University of Edinburgh. Her first chapbook of poems, The Mermaid and the Sailors, was recently published by Red Squirrel Press. She blogs at


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