In an antiquitous world, where social distancing wasn’t yet the de facto theme of interaction, I used to get dressed up to go dancing with my friends. Being a young, privileged, educated woman, with a budding feminism and progressive view of the world, I acted in accordance with my own agenda. With that in mind, there was a hostile undertone. When looking in the mirror, measuring my drinks, dancing in the middle of the dancefloor, I would slowly orientate myself towards someone else’s objective.
girls don’t burn.
this, is not an apology.
this is not an anthem.
this is cold metal rage.
girls don’t burn.
the bravest girl i know,
caught fire when she was six
and she refused to cry.
she wrapped her tiny body in steel
and learnt to dance along mridangams.
courage deserves accolades
as does endurance.
silence cannot be inheritance-
turn it away from your door.
so, what if-
you are reduced to a kitchen appliance, lowest at maslow’s hierarchy of needs -daal, chawal, roti.
the kitchen, a threat.
the butter knife capable of
puncturing pulmonary veins.
provoking you to,
dance, in pain.
scream, mid dance.
and then scream, in pain.
i want to bake my own bread,
simmer beef in garlic,
eat it by the sea,
with my head in a hole.
i want an ice boxed capri.
i want sweet white wine.
crystal, clear, sharp
on my tongue like an apology.
i want to dance amidst women,
i want topsy turvy mirth,
i want paraphernalia,
i want to move my body along the madness.
i want to be hemingway.
once betrayed in love,
alive amidst septet kittens worth nine lives.
i am a catlady,
i am feline devastating beauty.
i am pied piper drowning men in desire.
i am bertha, i am medusa, i am shikandhi.
i am twenty and delhi drunk in hauzkhas.
i am a house on fire
with its women inside,
i am ritualistic penance
at a dead husband’s pyre.
or, foglight at heaven’s gate,
as women burn and burn and burn.
isn’t there oppression in benevolence?
and i don’t want
front-page empowerment ads,
discounted beauty products,
discourses on power, gender, policymaking.
all i need,
are my girls,
a bar and a bender.
my friends dancing nakedfeet
on table tops on too much tequila,
straight down their throats, sliding across dance floors.
if there is a past,
if there is memory,
if there is grief and it’s recollection – let there be drunk table top dancing and most importantly, laughter.
In primary school, a boy once asked me, “Aren’t all brown people quiet?” I had no idea what to say, standing there in my oversized bottle green cardigan and kilt. I was eight years old. I mean, I knew I was quiet, but not because I wanted to be; in a predominantly white area, it was the best way to fit in, to survive the glares and stares I received day on end. At home, I was different. I would speak up about anything I could, and as soon as my friends got to know me, I would tell them stuff too. As I got older, I found my voice: first by writing, then by speaking. By the time I started my undergraduate degree, I had plenty to say.
the newer, happier me
she dresses like a 1950s housewife,
with piercings and a denim jacket.
she rides a bike and drives a Camaro
(yes she’s an amateur mechanic).
she wears her afro high, proud, au naturel;
she smiles a lot, for no reason in particular.
she paints for fun, all the time, and she’s good at it too,
it’s mostly Malcolm x and Angela Davis but it could really sell.
she buys her clothes at thrift stores for a fraction of the cost.
you could write an indie song/and or film,
where she’s a metaphor for feminism and self-love, or something equally pretentious;
she’s nice but she’s having none of your bullshit.
she plays bass guitar at weekends,
and ukelele on Sunday mornings.
she’s beautiful in the truest sense of the word.
she reads, the classics and likes Kerouac unironically.
she wears hipster glasses (ironically).
she’s as woke as they come, unapologetically black,
a wrecking ball to your complacency in the face of patriarchal white supremacy.
she bakes and cooks- vegan haute cuisine.
she’s funny, unbearably funny, side-splittingly funny,
because she really doesn’t care what you think.
she volunteers to feed the homeless and save the planet. she writes music, poetry, plays, short stories – a literary prodigy.
she goes out, she spends her week-ends gallery surfing then bar hopping, just to drink white wine and talk existential despair.
centre of attention, but modest nonetheless.
she’s thikkkkk, booty popping every which way!
she has the type of body they write R&B songs about.
she travels, practising ethical tourism, volunteering abroad,
and leapfrogging from youth hostel to youth hostel.
she’s clever, fantastically clever,
cleverer than i can describe, MENSA smart but smarter.
she has friends, close friends, lots of friends
whom she has made a meaningful connection to,
who understand her in the truest sense of the word.
she’s successful, financially stable, even rich for her age.
but mostly, she’s complete in a way i am yet to understand.
she’s not bored, she doesn’t lust for love, or for money,
she doesn’t want for anything.
she knows what is important.
she is important.
she has learnt the art of being,
she just is,
and that is simply enough for her.
i am a quitter
i gave up on this poem before i even wrote it;
i gave up on my dreams before i even dreamt them
i heap goal upon goal, hoping one will stick
i am a madman,
i am everything i ever hoped i’d be
but nothing like i’d imagined,
my nightmare and my dream,
i am learning,
taking a place in a society i never felt was mine,
claiming a stake,
teaching my lesson.
i am worse than i ever feared,
i am the best of me
Writing letters is something a therapist suggested to me as a way to cope with my emotions. It was a very difficult time for me; in one year I had endured a sexual assault and also had made attempts to take my own life. I was angry at everything and had grown reliant upon unhelpful practices like substance abuse, disordered eating and self harm. I told her about a typewriter I had and we thought together it would be cathartic to punch out my thoughts onto paper and keep them somewhere safe. That way they wouldn’t be in my head anymore.
When I was younger, living in the north of Scotland, we would have some pretty miserable winters. It would be dark at 3pm, wet and cold and windy. The one silver lining was that on clear nights, even when your fingers felt like they would fall off as you broke the ice in a water trough, you could see so many stars overhead. I could stand with my neck craned back and stare at them for hours.
Anger is an emotion that is highly influenced by gender. That is not to say that men are angrier beings. This is a popular misconception that plays into gender stereotypes of men being allowed to feel anger more than others, when in fact all genders feel anger equally and as intensely as one another.
I am angry. At first, I thought it was just about you. And you. And you. The way you dimmed me; reduced me down and down until I was on my knees and begging for you to do it again because I didn’t know what the world looked like from an upright position anymore.
Anger is an emotion that has defined most of the past year for me. It presents itself in many forms: pure rage, frustration, powerlessness, a strong sense of injustice; but also anxiety, exhaustion, irritability, hopelessness, fear, and sometimes complete shutdown. It gets so overwhelming at the moment; it feels like I’m just not equipped to be thinking about all the things that are going on. And as soon as I reach my absolute limit, something else happens to pile on more anger and more of all the things that come with it.
March 2021 has brought a new dimension to the art world by seeing Beeple sell his incredible piece Everydays: The First 5000 Days, developed over time in auction digitally at Christie’s Auction House. Connecting the digital world with the art world is an entirely new way of making and selling art in the 21st century.
When the skinny boy who fell in love with the dream he made of you in his mind – and you decided that was close enough – first said ‘tummy’ so sweetly as he touched your softness and rested his head against it, you felt a little more seen and a little less clouded in his foggy fantasy of you.
To The Person Who Stuck Their Finger Up My Bum, You must have heard the news, even if you’re not an avid follower of it, about the girl in London. It has been all over social media. Everyone is talking about how awful it is. Women are sharing their own stories of being harassed and/or assaulted and men are asking how they can be better allies. At least, some are. Some are more focused on their own narrative and choosing this as the time to emphasise that they are the good ones.
Brings out the
Your eyes hit me
with their rays
And it stays
For hours after
The time when we
Haunts me like a
stroke of luck
That will never return.
I Can Love You From Afar
I can love you
The door ajar
And I can see
you through the sliver
Your ring finger
pale and lonely and strumming the strings
The things I
think when I see you
Seem to swim
around each other like leaves caught in the drain
I came to be
But now I fear
to disturb the wonderful that surrounds you
That grounds you
where I can’t possibly get to
At least I get
to watch it from here
Outside the room but still near enough to love you from afar.
I wonder sometimes if writing poetry is bad for me. I sit in front of my computer or one of my hundreds of half-filled notebooks and puzzle my feelings into neat little rhyming couplets that could roll off the tongue with ease. Except the problem is that they don’t roll of my tongue at all, they just roll onto the page and get stuck there.
I miss two sets of feet
That fall apart and meet like balloons rising in the air
Not particularly going anywhere
Just looking for a better view
Us two, goofy ass walking in the park
Talking about everything and nothing
The whole world is set aside
When wits collide and multiply
Laughter breeds more laughter until it surrounds us
Like toddlers or gremlins, you shouldn’t feed us after midnight
Lest we let free the fright within
But we fit in when it’s just us two
Like tired feet in a favourite shoe
And I don’t feel so alone anymore
Lately it all feels like locked doors
Like cold hands
And frayed shoelaces
Like there’s no saving graces
I wish we were out there
Chatting shit like we don’t care
Wearing shorts in the summer air
Remarking how like glass our legs look when bare
Then sitting quietly for a while
Faces at ease, no forced elastic smile
No barrel of the gun as life picks up some speed
And I haven’t been able to ask, but I think you’d agree
It’s easier to hit the ground running
with two sets of feet.
“Oh, you’re a virgin?” The question people always ask me when they found out I haven’t done the dirty. I didn’t lose my virginity at prom the way all the coming-of-age films said I would. While my friends in high school were getting it on at house parties, I was giving myself over to other things – yearbook, the school newspaper, honor society. There was nothing quite as hot as planning a fundraiser in my opinion.
Go read more about this incredible painting in an article by our wonderful Arts and Culture Editor (and organiser of the recreate art series!), Manvir Dobb: The Two Fridas and finding the balance between normalcy and reality. Manvir explores how Kahlo grappled within her disconnected and counter selves as well as reflecting on our relationships with ourselves in Lockdown.
During the UK’s first lockdown in 2020, Jasmine Farram and Olivia Newstead collaborated in a photo shoot over Zoom, each created a DIY backdrop in their homes, and using flowers from their gardens created portraits of each other using only their laptop screens. The aim was to express themselves creatively, utilising the video platform allowing them to continue to collaborate albeit from afar.
If someone asked you about your relationship with the environment, what would you say? Would the image that comes to mind be one of a vast, far-off entity, perhaps embodied by burning rainforests and polluted oceans, or would it be of your local park, maybe the nearest nature reserve? Does it matter?
A few days ago a large number of houses in central Edinburgh experienced a power cut. My phone was on 5% so I went to charge it and then realised that I couldn’t do that. I also had to go to the loo and as I made the trepid journey out of the safety of my covers into the dark abyss of all two metres I tried to turn the bathroom light on but also couldn’t do that.
I had this repeatedly screamed at me once. It was the most bizarre and intense interaction I have ever shared with anybody. Now I can laugh at how the situation came about – it involved a pair of hair clippers on a very hot day – but I won’t get into that.
Hey, Ma? Don’t read this one. The reason the above warning exists is because whilst I am queer, I’m not actually out to my parents, or many people in the small town I grew up in and have recently moved back to. There are a lot of reasons for this, though I am lucky enough that it is not because I feel unsafe, or that my parents would reject me.
Ethical, sustainable and magnificently feminist galentine’s gifts for the humans in your life that you want to shower with love…