Review of #MeToo poetry event at Birmingham Literature Festival – and below the full review of the festival 🙂
Next is #MeToo: A Movement in Poetry. Fair Acre Press has published an anthology of poetry featuring the work of 80 female poets in response to the #MeToo movement – which highlights the prevalence of sexual harassment and assault against women in society. In this event, 24 poems are read aloud by over twenty different female voices.BREVIEW: Spring at Birmingham Literature Festival @ REP & other venues 27-29.04.18 Some of the poems are read by their authors on the stage (such as Kathy Gee’s ‘Still Guilty’ and ‘#Not Him’ by Pat Edwards) and some are read by audience members, either at the front of the room or from their seat in the auditorium.
This format is simple, but incredibly powerful. When the woman next to you in the audience suddenly stands up and starts reading a poem about sexual assault or harassment, it really brings home the fact that this could be happening to the person next to you on the bus, at work, or even at home. And you had no idea. The poems are thoughtfully arranged, starting with the ambiguous ‘Reeds’ – which describes an episode that could be the start of something, or of nothing. Poems like ‘The Bicycle’ show the narrator trying to focus on other things to distance themselves from what just happened, whereas ‘Spunk’ powerfully describes an episode explicitly.
By the end, ‘Spartaca’ sees women standing together in solidarity and speaking out. The sheer number of episodes and stories presented brings home the widespread nature of sexual assault and harassment that women encounter. But it also creates a sense of solidarity. Poem after poem, experience after experience, momentum builds, and the more women that speak out the more women have the courage to join in. Considering the distressing subject matter, the poetry, presented as it is here, has an uplifting effect.