No. 20 of 27 Poems for International Women’s Day 2015

 Not Letting Go

I am spread-eagled on my settee

“A Girl Is A Half-formed Thing”

Beside me

Reminds me

I had a structure to this day off.

I am though wide legs awake

On my back


My face is unmade up.

There is no eyeliner gelling on my lids

Although I do love the application,

The roll over the bump

The slither sliding by my lashes

Defining and changing me

From wan Celtic Woman to notice me Monroe

The experimenting, the transforming

The routine. The hiding other me

The wannabe fit in, the bear to be seen

But today I am indoors me

My deep Shakespearian soliloquy

Of a reflective question is

Do I like it?

Do I like my naked face?


Only if I think

For one nanosecond

I’m on Belle front cover

Being Woman Celebrated

Au naturelle.

Do I like legs wide open?

Vagina whiffing

Moon Prince beckoning

Godward’s girls on couches

Lady Mucking?



My mother instructed

Close those legs

Douche that hole

Talc that thing

Knees pressed in together

You’re a Woman now.


Positively speaking


Today is number two session of the radio art workshop “Reclaim The Waves” for seniors at Tate Britain. Last Saturday we were very busy looking at old video footage of past successes and experiments in radio art, munching fat bread sandwiches or gluten-free platters, and dashing away with the soldering iron making transmitters; Works of wonder and art.

During the week ears have been on alert to sounds of the city for that is where we live and have leant towards the Thames, home of barges and mud-larkers. One woman said that she has now an enhanced love of sound, music and poetry. Can’t doubt that. This week she’ll put her voice where her ears are as seniors collate their recorded noises and use their home-made transmitters to build the installation. It’ll concern itself and its makers with the ever-changing built environment. It’ll be art recognizing the unhappy state in which urban seniors find themselves apparently. There’s an assumption from the facilitators that all oldies are disturbed by the demise of olde worlde London for new built skyscrapers. That is incorrect.  Still it’s the latest fashion and a tool to engage seniors in engagement projects put about by arts bodies. Positively Speaking is the title….

mrs barton

Clapham Film Unit has made a film called “These Dangerous Women”. lsefor IWD woolenscraftspare rib to Patrick VernonThe Crofter Wife 250613

There’s an accompanying book in which two Up Your Street subscribers have had published inside it research work about dames from 1915 WILPF (Women’s Peace Movement). Homework done, internet over-used. A beautiful response to that was given by Barbara of Islington when she gave congratulations and praise for Up Your Street women who achieved in endeavours they chose. Smart women.

Feminists and friends have been invited to view the film, which includes seniors dressed up as Edwardian militants waving gaily at Tilbury Docks, at the end of March and I believe Boris may go and dear C Moran.

Oh yes, built environments and how seniors can interact. Two big conferences happen in March. There’s one in Canary Wharf on March 16th and another at Conway Hall on March 26th. Both are free and bookable at Eventbrite. Karen at Buildings Exploratory Islington  gave me rightly the heads up about the Conway Hall one which is hosted by Cubitt Art, Islington.

“Successful Cities, Positive Ageing

16th March 10am – 4.30pm 

Positive Ageing in London (the London regional forum on Ageing) is delighted to be working with The UK Urban Ageing Consortium who will be presenting the latest thinking on how cities and partners can collaborate to innovate on Age Friendly Cities. 

This event focuses on three important aspects of successful cities

  • The Built Environment
  • Economic Development
  • Culture and the Arts”


  • Go on. I’m listening.

We shall be exploring how nooks and crannies in London (like Fish Island?) where exist opportunities for artists to work have any relevance to an ageing population. I think I understood the blurb correctly. I asked Cubitt if a free lunch were provided and it is, and if I could have a stall for Up Your Street and there’s no space, and I bet Age UK got their foot firmly in front of the hairy hare.


“Is the aging population a ticking time bomb or an extraordinary asset?
What would our cities look like if they were designed for an aging population?
Could older people play a bigger role in public life?
Research has shown that, post-retirement, many people feel less visible in public spaces, less able to navigate the built environment, and less valued in public life.  Isolation and disconnection is a depressing reality for millions of older people whilst new developments, regeneration projects, and urban planning rarely account for the needs and capacities of the older body.

Public Wisdom 2015 is a one-day event produced by Cubitt Education <>  and supported by the Baring Foundation <> , bringing together anthropologists, artists, performers, sociologists, designers and architects to explore how we can respond creatively and imaginatively to these issues through and within the arts.”

I love Conway Hall.

My ears are burning.


Feminist Stoke Newington – Or Is It? Special IWD 2015 Guided Walk

so much learning to do. 1) Get her name pronunciation right. 2) wonder why a walk is £8 when it could be donation. That cost shoves away many women. 3) How did the daughter of an handkerchief weaver afford to open a school when she was 25 unless her daddy were a factory owner and we talking  silk hankies or he were a slaver?  Sacre bleu. 4) celebrate that at least the title is “IWD 2015” (looks like my title. See my poems on this site) and it’s not about cosmetics and Zumba and it’s all on the correct day. And mind my granddaddy’s grave in the bush there.

Hackney Tours: East LDN Creative Exploration


Equality for IWD 2015? A guided tour of radical Stoke Newington history. Is it Feminist? is it just about equal rights?

Special fundraising edition of the ‘Feminist (Or Is It?) Stoke Newington‘ guided walk (see here for usual walk): Sun 8th March; meet 10.30am main gates of Abney Park cemetery N16; cost £8 with 50% of proceeds to fund for Mary  Wollstonecraft statue in Newington Green (see here); just turn up. Features the stunning Abney Park cemetery (Hackney Tours video here) and the campaign for more recognition for Mary Wollstonecraft. Come and get involved!

Read about how Hackney Tours is involved in the contemporary campaign for equal rights and how it liberates both men and women here.

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No. 19 Poems for International Women’s Day

 Keeping kitchen

Karishma pushed the stray hair from her forehead

Some white flour puffed by her nose

And she looked through the window.


It wasn’t easy

By the age of eight my girls could do everything in the kitchen

They could chop coriander so small

like a machine

Nothing was wasted.

They learnt to freeze dough ready for next night’s dinner.

Lemons they squeezed by hand

Their grandmother helped them roll perfect circles

like medallions

better than Patak.

They were eight.

PB has a machine for everything now

and an au pair

and Paracetamol for constant headaches.

Deep has overstuffed her useless husband

He takes her nowhere

She collects dolls. Dolls we never needed before.

Myself, my kitchen is so clean I can’t create.


She turned to roll the dough

and spritz the oil

and clean the top

A tear sizzled in the heated pan.




No.18 The Purple, Green and the White

                                     The Purple, Green and the White

iWD 4 2015

During Rainbow Month the town hall raised the flag

To show that all’s equal

Someone somewhere may be sewing a flag

piling triangles for bunting in readiness

and optimistic fervour

for International Women’s Day

In art deco city town hall Hackney women in grey skirts

and stilettos

mounted purple green and white balloons

in the rafters

Last March my grandson spotted purple balloons

trapped on high wires and shouted

Grandma Balloons

White like lilies in the valley stand for purity

Green is the colour of hope and new life

Purple majestic is for dignity and self-respect.



No.16 Poems for International Women’s Day 2015

 The Petition

Bride-price me

for my skin is glowing

I shine in the sun

of the Harmatten noon

like the Palm Oil Maiden

who melts

to a pool of scented balm

                                                              Palm Oil Daughter

Bargain for me

for my thighs are caressed

and plumped

by overeating of pounded yam

and odoriferous stew

Slip your hands down the round

of my shoulders and neck

I was spread over

with cocoa butter

and softened to touch

These arms you examine

are firm

from river side slapping

on washday lines

See my long strong fingers

how they twist and twine

my coil-sprung hair

Choose me

for I can measure in my hand

the amount of salt

for the meat

and the strength of the chilli pepper

by its heat

how to sit in silence

when the man eats

and the crickets sing

My skin is deep brown

in the yellow cling

of the kerosene light

Take me

for I smile

closed mouth in the night.


No.15 Poems for International Women’s Day 2015

                         Hijab Me

Under this creation in polyester

this Paisley pattern of swirls and curves

and icing white wedding cake coloured dots

all pinned up with Pound Shop clips

bejewelled and bedazzled

is me.

Here I am

My eyes aren’t always downcast

like I have no spirit

of fire and anger

nor is my mouth always sealed

and shut in modesty.

My hair swirls too.

It moves in one combed mass

in one slow motion wave

Inviting a touch, a caress


Last August when the sun scorched

dog waste pavements

my sister had her Mehndi party

in the sports hall

above the mosque and Tesco

My mum and sisters were dressed in Primark’s best

Elsie from next door came

She saw we had hips

that moved like hers

and hair that swings

and bare arms strong to carry plates of hot samosas


and real china plates.

were toned from bin pushing

and moulding  rolling chapattis.

She touched my hair.


My hijab

like a hoodie’s hood

reminds me of who I am

and where I want to belong

I can be in myself


Me as Woman

Woman as Me.

My senses converge in the space between my brain

and my chin

and without my head covering

I may look like someone else

But I can assure you it’s me.


No.14 Poems for International Women’s Day 2015

Island Wives

Grandmother was identified by that title

And all the cake baking, bread rising, butter churning, butter patting, wool carding, rhubarb jamming, bannock griddling, coal shovelling, pinny wearing, baby birthing, feather plucking, neck strangling, potato picking, rat-chasing, udder cleaning, Provi Man lending, tut tutting, kids today, skitter washing, fire drawing, kitten saving, grate polishing, fish drying, crab boiling, knuckle scrubbing, man obliging, period dripping, stove blacking, snow shovelling, duff mixing, cabbage stinking, sock darning, girdle hooking, ember poking, tea stewing, tear wiping, stiff upper lipping, bairn burying, opinion keeping, potato mashing, sobbing silently.

Was about being the Woman.

Issue 9. Up Your Street


Mon 23rd Feb free 2.30pm Stratford Heritage Walk with Abby from Eastside Community Heritage. No need to book  Meet at Stratford Station (one of three walking tours).

Tues 24th Feb £60 negotiable 10.00-1pm Hackney City Farm. Learning to set up an healthy eating and cooking workshop for pre-toddlers with Kids Kitchen. Go to website or see at Eventbrite

Wed 25th Feb £3 noon-3pm POSH Club cabaret at St Paul’s Church Stoke Newington. Book in advance as it’s popular.

£5    1.30pm-4pm Tea dance. Chingford Assembly Hall, Station Road, Chingford, E4

Thurs 26th Feb free 10am An heritage walk around The Queen Elizabeth Park. Meet at the Moke Café East. Book with Katherine of Eastside Community Heritage at (one of three walking tours)

free 10am-6pm Exhibition of community driven events since 2011 at The Mill, 7-11 Coppermill Lane, Walthamstow E17 7HA Contact.Carolyn Abbott

                               free 2-4pm Telling Tales Lounge with Mo our art director at The Mill . Informal reminiscence group on a script project.

                                   £5 FABRICATIONS CRAFT CLUB: 6-9pmBroadway Market Hackney The club is a friendly, supportive and creative evening.

Bring along your own projects (whether it be knitting, crochet, sewing, patchwork etc)
It’s an ideal follow on to our classes for continuity or extra guidance.
Come with friends or make new friends

Fri 27th Feb free The Rabbit Hole, Maryland E15. Done gone. Bye Nicci. It was a blast.

                        £5  7pm-10pm The Mill 7-11 Coppermill Lane, E17 7HA. Contact Adele Tinman 020 85213211


Sat 28th Feb free “Women in Bloomsbury” walk with Goodenough. Book at Eventbrite


Sun 1st Mar free 3-5pm Creative writing workshop at Blend, 587 Green Lanes Harringay N8 ORG. Book at Eventbrite


Mon 2nd Mar free Book with Stuart Low Trust for 18th March trip to the Wellcome Centre

Tues 3rd Mar £10 Rose ‘n’ Crown Theatre Pub E17 preview “Norma Jean The Musical” Tickets at the website for the musical.

free 8/8 Last session at Oxford House E1 Journalism Course for locals

Wed 4th Mar£3 11 am Empire Seniors Walthamstow E17  screening “A Most Wanted Man ” with tea and biscuits.

£3 noon -3pm POSH Club (see last week)