Teika is the founder and managing editor of Mother's Milk Books

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.

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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/178960

It 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=34328
And 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 church

is old and friendly, proud with bells pealing

in glorious cascades. There is a sense of celebration

as well as mourning in the tan stone streets,

some cobbled, with views of hills, hills, hills

all 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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Carnival time! And images still needed…

We’re getting ever closer to the publication of Cathy’s new book (eek!) and I really want to release it with a noisy, multi-coloured send-off, so if you think you can help me do that, please do get involved!

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Dear glorious women, we need your images!

I’m (obviously) very excited about publishing Cathy Bryant’s new book Look At All The Women and want as many people as possible to read her accessible – yet thought-provoking – poetry, so with that in mind I’m going to be producing a YouTube video called ‘Look At All The Women’. Cathy’s already provided me with the sound – her reading of the glorious poem ‘Look At All The Women’ – but now I need some glorious images of women to accompany the poem. So if you have a good quality and high-resolution image that would fit with ANY of the themes of the poem, please do email: teika [at] mothersmilkbooks.com with the image as a jpeg. I would welcome either photographs or artwork but please only send me images for which you own the copyright to and have permission to use. Every kind person who sends me a suitable image that ends up in the video will get a goodie: a free e-version of Cathy’s book (a PDF) when it is released on 28th May, as well as mine and Cathy’s eternal thanks! (Deadline for submission of images is Tuesday 20th May.)

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