Heat for the Homeless, Edinburgh

Just over two years ago I was chatting to a man sat reading at the base of the Playfair steps. It was November and freezing cold. I asked him what the best thing he was ever given whilst being a rough sleeper was and he told me ‘a hot water bottle’. I always find it difficult knowing the right etiquette of what to give rough sleepers or anyone who is asking for help on the street…

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Become the Monster (That Anti-Vaxxers Fear)

CW: Harassment, coming-out experiences.
The air is warm and musty, children are screaming from an over-indulgence in sugar, moms turn up with over-the-top baked goods for the PTA, and little Debbie is just about to cause an outbreak of measles. The reason? Debbie’s parents are some of many Americans who have decided that they are anti-vaxxers…

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Accessibility and Art : Creativity has no Boundaries

It is important for me as a Body Positivity Activist and Artist to research artists who’s work goes beyond their physical body. For a creative person, the best way to articulate an experience is to have it documented in a way an audience can be influenced from. Be that music, poetry, art or performance. Creating Art on topical themes and personal experiences translates to people in ways that stick in minds and inspires people to do the same…

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Slow

Slow

There’s lines all over my life 
Some stand between myself and others 
Building boundaries where I am finally comfortable 
Others are queues I stand in watching everyone get goals before me 
Grades, graduation, validation, varying 
Levels of success that others say are normal

Years of learning to read a certain way 
This works for everyone so why cant it work for you? 
A high school’s worth of adaptation and confrontation that 
This isn’t working for me but I found what does.
The lines in my life move, scrambled like scrabble 
3 points for a B but only if it doesn’t look like a D.
Years of minding my Ps and Q’s because apparently they differ
Pardon my politeness for I am slow 

Reading aloud always sounds like a eulogy 
Mourning the loss of the words I meant to say 
Instead the brain substitutes and institutes an easier alternative 
For me to manage and say 
Or stutter and stammer and try to force out 
Only to be told
you got it wrong again 

Numbers make sense to me in a different way 
I can read it once then say another 
Yet warped, reversed and wrong 
Calculations feel like abrasions, after a while it got better 
Chipping away at the wall between the eyes and the brain
Eventually gluing things together 
Excuse my intelligence for I am slow

Diagnosis is a word I can hardly spell 
And something I hardly gained 
Hours of ‘tell me what is wrong in this line’ 
when I’m looking at a circle
Expressing myself and grasping for explanations I can’t find
I know the words but I don’t know the words
An adult treated like a child because it took too long to notice 
Reconciliation works slowly and silently 

Getting to the right people was half the battle 
The other half is writing my name on the moving line 
Extra time for reading and dreaming of when 
My ability matches my capability.
Frustration of how little I can push myself but, 
Forgive my fortitude for I am not slow 

K Robertson

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Contemplation of a Poisonous Thought

To begin, I have to be brutally honest and admit to something that I am not proud of. At all. A few moments ago I was walking into university listening to the news. I’ve gotten into quite a sweet routine recently, breaking up the walk with a trip to the local green grocers. Every morning I browse the selection of reduced fruit, normally grabbing a punnet of grapes and a persimmon, have a chat with the very smiley man who owns the shop and hop back on my merry way to the library…

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Scottish Parliament to host transphobic activists and academics

MSPs have organised an event in order to launch a “Declaration on Women’s Sex-Based Rights,” an unashamedly transphobic document. This declaration has been created by an international lobbyist group known as the Women’s Human Rights Campaign which believes that the rising tide of rights afforded to trans people is a threat to those of cis women…

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Spotlight(s) on the Booker Prize 2019

It has been well documented, at this point, that the Booker Prize 2019 result took us all by surprise. Between them, Bernardine Evaristo (‘Girl, Woman, Other’) and Margaret Atwood (‘The Testaments’) took home equal halves of the money, but not necessarily equal halves of the spotlight…

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i’ve built a house

i’ve built a house

i’ve built a house upon my shoulders
there i will reside
until there comes a time
when it is safe to go outside

i live alone, but every night
a stranger comes to stay
She never introduced herself,
but i’m too shy to say

it’s dark inside our nest
my lamp, the guardian of the tide
the chimney’s always smoking
but it’s still so cold inside

i a baby bird, and She
the swallower of my screams
the monster who knows all
but is unknowable to me

we built a house together
but She’s thrown away the key.
i hope She lets me out tonight
for i can barely breathe.

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The BBC Pay Gap is Back

Just over a year after Carrie Gracie announced she would be resigning as China Editor for the BBC due to the disparities in pay between her and her male equivalents, for which the BBC was forced to apologise, Samira Ahmed has brought a court case against the broadcaster complaining about the disparities in pay between her and her male equivalents…

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An Ode to the Nice Guy

An Ode to the Nice Guy

O here I will, my nice guy, speak of thee.
Long had a lack of love been cause of pain.
And shaped the pillars of the balcony
Thou hast so laboured to rebuild again.

Many true friends had mystery turned foes
Before thine eyes so gently pierced my mask.
With golden drink and cursed speech bestows,
This group a mark from every poisoned task.

And so was left a gallery of guilt,
In every shell of womanhood consumed.
Yet strong was thine intent to see unwilt
A heart so tough, convinced it never bloomed.

But since I’m neither male, nor dead, nor white,
Let’s break it down in modern terms, alright?

See, I had a type.
The problem is:
that physicality tends to go in hand with a questionable personality,
and lately I’m increasingly tired of the pretty people with the ugly insides,
which my mother could have told me would happen ages ago, 
but as all young adults will know- 
mums are always wrong until YOUR’E WRONG…
because mums are always right.

So, nice guy, this one is for you:
Because I like how I can act pretty much the same around you as I do in my finsta.
And I like how the jokes we laugh about are almost always about farts and almost never about the arts- it is much more aesthetic.

And the truth is: I don’t want to go to radical film screenings every week.
Sometimes, I just want to watch Pewdiepie videos and eat ice cream in bed,
and yes “I love the mystery” is what fuck-boy-phase-me may have once said,
but I really only joined murder mystery society because they got into my head
by saying they only offered it to really smart people, and I… 
have an ego problem. 

Anyway, leather jackets are cool, 
I get it, and if he’s got tatts a man-bun, I usually turn into a jelly shot that was taken out of the fridge too early.
You know- all shakes and no substance,
So fam, if you relate to this on any level, hear my wisdom.

Nice guy is so much better.
Nice guy beats the tatts and the man-bun any day
Not literally, of course, he’s tiny; but the way 
he makes me feel is how I felt at age 15, 
watching Joe Jonas emerge, a fucking dream,
from underneath the stage ready to sing the hell out of the first line of “Burnin’ up”,
which as every human in the world knows is “I’m hot.”
…and he really is.

So, I have a new type, 
and it is just like the description of the paper I wrote this poem on-
White, Tesco, Basic. And white tesco basic can be hot.

The fact that he doesn’t own, nor has ever owned, leather boots – 
white, 
tesco, 
Basic,
HOT!

The way his voice breaks a little in the middle of words every now and then – 
supah white
tesco, 
basic, 
HOT!

How his breakfast is ALWAYS protein weetabix served in the same bowl- 
super tesco, 
white, 
basic, 
HOT!

His steady, open path into a successful engineering career- 
super basic,
white,
tesco,
HOT!

His former student job as a Deliveroo driver – 
white, 
tesco, 
Basic,
SUPER HOT! 
Because, hear me…
He delivers. 

And as if it were needed, that is not all,
just like Joe Jonas sang more than Burning Up to 15 year old me,
Nice guy is not just one thing.

He is no replacement for the copy-pasted versions of the same daydream 
I decided to put on a pedestal one day.
Nice guy does not belong in museum or galleries,
he is not made to be collected, 
he has no copies of himself,
he is the enemy of fake.

Unlike marble, Nice Guy is warm to the touch.
And all around him it is warm too. 
And all around him it is safe,
And all around him it’s just nice, 
and I deserve nice.

So with this wish, we close our Ode, my friends,
I guess what’s left to say is just: the end.

A.M. Asali

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Lament of the Alphabet

Lament of the Alphabet

And across an atrium
Beating blue, black blood
Come crashing conclusions. Could
Deliver desperate daydream delusions:
Every ending ever ensured
Farewells from far frames.
Go give God goodbyes,
Hellos. How has hell
Ignited in insatiable instinct,
Jealous jerking, just judging,
Kissing, killing, keeping keen
Lamentations lingering like living
Memories. Many might merit
No notice, no nuance.
Others, oddly open onto
Personal pictures, pondering past
Questions, qualifications. Quiet queues 
Register rocky relationships. Recognise
Stressful situations she seems
Tied to. Tried to
Undo until unknown, unspeakable 
Voodoo visibly violated vows.
“Women won’t want words”
Xenomorphic, xerotic, xanthic xenocracy.
Your young years yearning;
Zealously, zestfully, zodiacly zeroing.

A.M. Asali

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Dear Past Me, don’t worry about your boobs

I am writing to offer you reassurance. Even age twelve, you knew your own mind, and you were sure that large breasts were not something you wanted. I can assure you that age eighteen, they remain the size of mandarins or Madeleine cakes, and that you find this a completely ideal and comfortable size for them to be…

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BLACK ICONS IN QUEER HISTORY

Black people have always been a part of the LGBTQ+ rights movement. The struggle for queer liberation has included black people throughout its history, and unfortunately at times their voices have been quieted in favour of white activists (anyone seen the movie about Stonewall?). Luckily, it’s not too late to give thanks to these people that have helped to pave the way for acceptance of queer people, and as such, here are six queer black icons that we should be appreciating more…

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My body doesn’t look the way I want it to

My body doesn’t look the way I want it to

It never has
It never will

But when “what I want” has been carefully moulded, marketed and shoved down my throat by a system whose only goal is my submission, I have to ask

Me.
What do I truly want?
I want a body that is healthy
A body resilient enough to run long distances in the pouring rain
A body strong enough to pick up my ever-growing little siblings
Those little shits
A body humble enough to remember the pains of those before me
A body brave enough to stand in the way of injustice

What I crave is a body that fights for what is right
A body that serves my communities
A body that empowers those who look up to me

I want a body so passionate it makes love to the man I adore
A body so powerful it creates life itself
A body so warm that gardens flourish inside
So tender its fruit ripens in their own time

This is what I want
I will not succumb to the deluge of falsities about where my body should be
What my body should look like
How my body should move
When my body should be hidden
How my body should be fucked

My body is mine 
And this is what I want
I have come to believe that my body already a miracle
And to that, I surrender.

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What’s Going On With Brexit?

A lot of stuff went down these last couple of weeks, and every other week, in Westminster, and particularly a lot of stuff regarding our exit from the EU. You want specifics? I got them right here…

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Abortion decriminalised in Northern Ireland

Amongst all the carry-on in Westminster, you may have missed that in Northern Ireland this week abortion was decriminalised and same-sex marriage legalised. Admittedly, it was only because a dispute between the DUP and Sinn Fein caused the Stormont Assembly (the devolved legislature with the coolest name) to step out for a whole two years, but we’re not going to look a gift horse in the mouth…

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Beige

Beige

She operated in shades of beige.
Emaciated or emancipated?
Tell her.
Too nothing to eat, sleep or read.
But there is always time for tea –
Even the nothingness of phones, telly, apps and instance is not quite nothing enough.

Downstairs? Wash face? Clean? Choose?
No thank you, too much.
Tell her.

Please.

I know she wants you to.
Give her no choice and an easy one.
Fear or hedonism?
Tell her.
She craves control but no choice please.
Sick of competition, ambition and colour.
Sick.

How can you think under the fluorescence?
Violent, aggressive and invasive fluorescence.
Privacy is a remnant of the past,
To be observed and pondered in the
– great  –   British museum.
Or maybe in bed when
The deepest desire is to be alone to cast
Off responsibility and just exist without
Consequence only for a moment
Overstimulated and in danger
6:35 beeps and chirps the morning into
Existence

Maybe another list?

Isabelle Hodgson

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Cans

Cans

Cans can hold all kind of things
Peaches, aubergines, peas and pearls
They are simply
Dissected, pickled, packed
Ready for consumption
In stackable, conveniently trackable
Cans.
That sit in shelves of shops
In shelve-like streets
On shelves of land.

When the event rolls around, across a
Kitchen counter
And reveals itself
In a crackling ripple of aluminium
It exposes a cavernous body of peach-
shaped organs
Lathered in sugary syrup
Like the limbs of glamorous women
On influential beaches

Cans can even can feelings
And I was surprised how easily they went.
One ‘don’t’ from a trusted friend and I
conceded
My feelings for you must be canned.
I’ll admit they went like treacle
Thick, sticky, icky, a little unhealthy
But no matter how viscous
They went –
Until they were neatly contained
And stored in a cool dry cupboard

I packed up my cupboard with aubergines, peaches, peas and pearls
Until I could not see or think
Of treacle. I hadn’t realised it was sitting
Dormant

Until you went looking for sweetness or
Mischief
And with a gap-toothed smile
You opened the can –
It overturned and all too suddenly they
came rushing out you see years had
turned treacle to milk a more
Volatile liquid.
And when I looked up again we were not
children
Your gap-toothed smile meant something
More sinister
Something I wasn’t prepared for,
You still wanted mischief and I didn’t
Know what I wanted.

Before my cupboard was packed
With other things to eat.
But now I was left wanting
The cans are empty,
The milk is spilled,
And still I am left wanting
So you see,
I must consume you.

Isabelle Hodgson

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Sense it

Sense it

He smelt like a posh cinema.
Like gourmet sweets,
Expensive upholstery and ethical caramel

He sounded like an old dial telephone
Whirring through words
Bringing sentences to a ringing end.

He looked like a Kandinsky;
High-brow and rare, and
An uncomfortable mix of curves and harshness

He felt like a childhood cartoon
Whimsically drawn,
Beautifully familiar with a violent subtext –

He didn’t taste like gourmet sweets or ethical caramel.
He tasted like bitter pork.
But he tasted better after I’d cooked him.

Isabelle Hodgson 

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