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Results of the 2014 Mother's Milk Books Writing Prize

I am delighted to be able to announce the results of the 2014 Mother’s Milk Books Writing Prize. As there was an increase in the number of submissions compared with the inaugural year of the competition we were very happy indeed to be able to commend more pieces. The writing was of a very high quality and both judges commented on how they felt privileged to read the entries. To quote the poetry adjudicator, Cathy Bryant: “As always, Mother's Milk has that extra something special.”

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Photos of poetry in action & a new book

Although I wasn’t able to make it to Cathy and Angela’s poetry readings at 8th Day Coop in Manchester last month it looks (and sounds!) to have been a great event, with an appreciative audience (and they were particularly happy to buy Cathy’s new book Look At All The Women. This is good news for me as a publisher!). And just a reminder, you can still get Cathy’s book, and Angela’s wonderful collection of poems Letting Go at a discounted price in our store at the moment. I thought I’d share some photos of the event, hopefully encouraging anyone who’d like to perform their poetry, to give it a go! Sarah Miller and Rosie Garland were also there, giving fine performances, so thank you to all who attended and made it a night to remember.

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Guest post: Cathy Bryant on ‘Heroines and Inspirations’

Welcome to the ‘Look At All The Women’ Carnival: Week 3 – ‘The Eclectic Others’This post was written especially for inclusion in the three-week-long ‘Look At All The Women’ carnival, hosted by Mother’s Milk Books, to celebrate the launch of Cathy Bryant’s new book ‘Look At All The Women’. In this final week of the carnival our participants share their thoughts on the theme ‘The Eclectic Others’ (the third, and final, chapter in Cathy’s new poetry collection).Please read to the end of the post for a full list of carnival participants.***When it came to the third section of my book, ‘The Eclectic Others’, my editor and I worked hard to choose the right balance. After all, there was no way we could include every possible take on a woman’s life, unless the book was to have infinite pages! So we fiddled and discussed and put things in and took them out again and scratched our heads and argued for our particular favourites, until we came up with a selection that, if not wholly representative, was at least as strong and varied as we could make it.Poems we were both keen to keep in included those about some of my personal heroines – those inspirational women who have made a difference to the way I live my life.One of those was shared with me by an English teacher called Mrs Lawton. Our set text for poetry was a volume called ‘English Poetry 1900-1975’, which contained the work of many wonderful poets – only two of them, however, being women. One was Stevie Smith. The other was Sylvia Plath. (As poet Ali Smith said, between those two you get most of human experience, but still!)So imagine me at 14, being abused at home by my violent father (who was also headmaster of my school), depressed and suicidal, self-harming and lost, opening the book obediently and finding the nursery rhyme rhythms of a hellish experience not far from my own: Daddy. You can see the poem here. http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/178960It knocked my socks off, and my shoes and mind too. For terms we had been dissecting poems to see why and how they were clever, and now a strange, dead, American woman had reached right inside me and spoken to me in the language of my sorrow and fear.I loved her after that and read everything she wrote, including her diaries – and found her to be a complex person, often far sunnier and funnier than the myths would have us believe, full of life and charm and brilliance. On the 50th anniversary of her death I went with my O.H. to visit her grave in Heptonstall, and when I came home I sat and wrote the experience down – it was so vivid. It came out partly as prose and partly as a poem. You can see the prose result here: http://www.writeoutloud.net/public/blogentry.php?blogentryid=34328And here is the poem:Yellow Roses on Snow(written after visiting Sylvia Plath’s grave on the fiftieth anniversary of her death)It’s a plain grave, though thickly meringued with snow;dark granite monolith open to the sky. The churchis old and friendly, proud with bells pealingin glorious cascades. There is a sense of celebrationas well as mourning in the tan stone streets,some cobbled, with views of hills, hills, hillsall covered in snow. But such a small grave.

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Guest post: Cathy Bryant on ‘Moments with Mothers and (Imaginary) Daughters’

Welcome to the ‘Look At All The Women’ Carnival: Week 2 – ‘The Mothers’

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Guest post: Cathy Bryant on ‘Fantasy, love and oddity’

Welcome to the ‘Look At All The Women’ Carnival: Week 1 – ‘The Lovers’

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