Saturday, 20 July 2013

The Politics and Power of Words

Tuesday 16th was the launch of the poetry anthology I compiled for CoolTan Arts, Diagnosis: Hysteria? Prescription: Hysteria! - the final product of the women's poetry group I ran there last year. The event had the dual purpose of launching both our poetry book and also celebrating CoolTan's new venue. They're still on the Walworth Rd, but have just moved to the other side of the road, and have - drum roll, please - an INDOOR TOILET (luxury!) and other lovely things like windows and a view. 
I'll miss their old warehouse in some ways - it certainly had character - but think I can get over that in the face of not having to use a portaloo. Though I will miss the cat from the warehouse next door, who used to flirt with me whenever it was sunny. Meow. 

It was a great event, with fantastic artwork exhibited, and fancy guests, like the local GP/sexy TV doctor, Jonty Heaversedge. We also had readings from some of the women who contributed to the book. The Forward explains the title a bit (buy the book, buy the book!), but you can also check out CoolTan's newly launched online magazine, CoolFruit, where you can read an article by one of their members which takes a closer look at hysteria through the ages. Oh yeah, or buy the book.
In honour of the occasion, rather than reading one of my own poems from the anthology, as planned (I also read some of my students' poems, who couldn't make it), I instead read a poem I wrote on the tube on the way there, inspired by/in honour of the event. I feel quite strongly about some of the issues that surround our work and the lives of the country's most vulnerable - you'd never have guessed - such as the impact of political policies and the state of the mental health services - check out my article about how funding cuts, etc, are effecting places like CoolTan (after you've read my poem, obvs!).

Let me know what you think....

The Politics and Power of Words

Your 'skivers not strivers' rhetoric
Don't give a shit about our mental health
Disadvantaged for not having a dick
And not being born into wealth

I'm not hiding behind closed shutters
Don't believe what it says in the Mail
I'm doing my best, we're doing our best
Though it feels like you're helping us fail

We know the meaning of work
Have you pulled yourself up from the brink?
Have you hit rock bottom and started again?
Have you actually stopped to think

What your language is doing?
'Cos I'm not a 'hard-working family'
But that doesn't mean I'm not contributing
To this world, with love and integrity

So, I'll write emails like nobody's watching
Read the papers like I've never been hurt
Speak 'til people start listening
And believe in the power of words

Photos of the event by Amy Bradshaw

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