Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Taking a blog break

One candle burning by itself becomes
a glitter-ball of warm beauty

but festive lights lined up in banks
on every city centre building are a nightmare
of visual overstimulation
when added to the glare
of bright rainbows and extra lights
round every traffic light,
every car headlight
and every street light. 


I'm having cataract surgery tomorrow and will then be taking two and a half weeks off from blogging and social media to rest my eyes. Though my Etsy shops will remain open.

Friday, October 26, 2018

On Foot

Let me write poems on your feet
in clouds of henna,
take you places you’ve never been.

Come with me to distant galaxies,
my words glowing in your wake
to flare across the night sky

and haunt your dreams

(This poem was previously published in Poetry Cornwall. I made the collage in response to the poem)

First posted on this blog in 2007 for 'Images and Poetry' theme for Poetry Thursday

I reposted another poem today over on my Crafty Green Poet blog, you can read it here

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Our Ovaries Ourselves - for World Menopause Day

(A long post, in which I rant a little and share far more personal stuff than I normally would but it's an important medical issue)

If you have ovaries, don't let the doctors take them from you (unless you've been diagnosed with ovarian cancer in which case you probably should have them removed as soon as possible).

Your ovaries are vital whether you want to have children or not, even beyond menopause. Even into old age, your ovaries produce small amounts of hormones that help keep you healthy. And removal of both ovaries will send you into a catastrophic, immediate menopause.

If you are diagnosed with an ovarian cyst, in the USA or Canada your gynacologist will likely do their best to preserve both your ovaries, whatever your age. If you're in the UK and you're over 50, your GP and gynacologist are likely to recommend the removal of both ovaries.


Late last year I was diagnosed with a very large ovarian cyst on my left ovary. All the nurses I spoke to and my female GP made reassuring noises that I might not even need surgery as many cysts go away of their own accord. The (female) gynacologist I was referred to however had different ideas. She said that as I was 51 (the average age of menopause) then I no longer needed my ovaries. I was to put it mildly shocked and said little other than 'that seems a bit extreme'. Which it was, particularly as tests showed there was very little chance of cancer.

A male GP from my medical practice then phoned me (why him and not my own female GP I don't know) and he too said that I no longer needed my ovaries. Well by that time I had done my research and I raged at him telling him that women who have both ovaries removed are not only catapulted into a catastrophic medical menopause but have a greatly reduced life expectancy and a greater chance of dying of almost any disease (other than ovarian cancer). I also pointed out that I had not hit menopause myself and in fact was barely perimenopausal so should not be automatically considered to be post menopausal just because of my age.

The male GP and the gynacologist obviously spoke to each other and when I had my next appointment with her she reluctantly agreed that she would allow me to keep my right ovary. I asked if she could let me keep the left one and she said no, the cyst was too big. (And sticky as it turned out, it was the size of a large bread roll and stuck to all my internal organs and took hours to remove, much credit to the surgical team). But even on the morning of my surgery my gynacologist was recommending removing both ovaries and I was still needing to fight to keep my right ovary - an hour or so before surgery! I don't understand her reluctance to let me keep my right ovary, she told me that it was very unlikely I had cancer and if I had had cancer and she had removed the right ovary she would still have needed to go back in to give me a full hysterectomy.

Anyway, it's all months ago now and I've made a full recovery and have still not hit menopause, in fact I'm still barely perimenopausal.

Some women might not have the confidence or the energy to fight to keep their ovaries and I know women who have had terrible experiences of catastrophic surgical menopause in situations where it probably wasn't necessary. So do your research and if you are diagnosed with ovarian cysts then make sure your doctors know you want to keep your ovaries.

For World Menopause Day.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Women in the Archives

Yesterday I attended a very interesting panel event at the National Library of Scotland about women in literary archives.

Attention has traditionally focused on the writings of male (usually white) authors, and this event sought to question this focus by considering the relationship between archives and literary reputations. The speakers focussed on individual authors to address how the relative absence of women writers from official archives has contributed to their relative scarcity in the literary canon and to explore the relationship between a writer’s archive and their literary status.

Jenni Calder spoke about Scottish poet, botanist and plant collector Isobel Hutchison and her travels in the 1930s in Alaska. I was particularly interested to hear about Hutchison since I had recently read Andrea Wulf's fascinating book The Brother Gardeners (which I briefly reviewed over on Crafty Green Poet here).

Donna Campbell of Washington State University then spoke about the various cinematic and theatrical adaptations that have been made from the novels of Edith Wharton and how they were received by audiences compared to the novels themselves (audiences of an early adaptation of The House of Mirth for instance were unhappy with the death of Lily Bart at the end of the play, though they apparently had had no problem with that as the ending of the novel, I think that's still the case today to some degree).

After a short break Imaobong Umoren talked about the invisibility of black women in the archives, focussing on the life and work of Una Marson who moved from Jamaica to the United Kingdom to further her literary career but struggled to find work due to racism. She was a poet, playwright and the first black woman employed by the BBC.

Finally A N Deevers introduced her new business, The Second Shelf, a rare book dealership (soon to open up a shop in London) which aims to redress the balance between female and male writers in the rare books trade. She produces a beautiful journal that doubles as a catalogue (but is so much more than a catalogue and looks like a great read!) and is approaching the whole enterprise with an inspiring mix of imagination and determination.

This event was a collaboration between Transatlantic Literary Women and the National Library of Scotland.

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Bi-Visibilty Day

It's happened every year since 1999, but I didn't even know until two years ago that Bi-Visibility Day existed - so much for the visibility part of that then! I also only found out a couple of days ago that the whole of September is Bi-Visibility Month!

Here are some of the articles I found and first posted on Bi-Visibility Day two years ago:

Ignoring the B in LGBTQI denies us our identity by Vonny Moyes in The National

Why I don't like being asked which gender I prefer by Zachary Zane on Bustle

an article on how to be a bi-ally (with a nice bisexual umbrella).

an article from the National Union of Students about the importance of Bisexuality Visibility Day

an older article about the need for Bisexuality Visibility Day.

Bi Community News is Britain's Bimonthly Bisexual magazine.

There's even a bi pride flag (which I wasn't aware of until just now).

And I've been thinking about bisexual films of which there don't seem to be many, this is just off the top of my head but there's

101 Rekyavik
Chasing Amy
Don't Look at Me That Way (which I reviewed for last year's Bi-Visibility Day here)

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Monstrous Regiment - feminist publishing house based in Edinburgh

Monstrous Regiment, an indie press based in Edinburgh, was founded by Lauren and Ellen, two publishing students. Their publications focus on themes of feminism, sexuality, and gender. I recently ordered several of their publications and was very impressed.

She Walked Out to the Desert is a small but perfectly formed poetry zine which was created for the London Radical Book Fair 2018. Its mix of poetry and collage explores mental health and materialism.

The Bi-ble is a collection of essays and personal stories about bisexuality coming from a variety of viewpoints and covering topics including bisexuality and fan fiction, bisexual invisibility and sexuality and religion. The stories are well written and interesting, sometimes amusing and often moving. (In fact I abandoned all other reading material to read this in one go). The editors are looking for submissions for Volume 2 of the Bi-ble, you can find out more here.

Crimson is the first issue of the Monstrous Regiment literary journal inspired by blood, lipstick, blushing and other shades and incarnations of the colour red. The photos, artwork, poetry and short stories cover topics such as shame, bullying, death and gender identity. There's a good variety of styles of writing and art, it looks beautiful and is well worth reading. The next issue will be Emerald and stories, poetry and art inspired by the colour green are invited, a feminist slant is preferred but not mandatory, for details see here.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018


The colour of the sky and his eyes
Ocean endless to the horizon
Forget me nots and sapphires
The saddest music in the world
Bruises on her upper arm

Regret for all the words
said and unsaid.

Originally published on Sketchbook  and first posted on this blog in 2006. 

I also reposted an old poem today on Crafty Green Poet, you can read it here

If you like my poetry, you can now buy me a virtual coffee on Ko-Fi!

Tuesday, August 07, 2018

Major New Artist

This poem originally was a response to a Poetry Thursday challenge back in 2006 to write a poem in someone else's voice. The poem had already been published and I just lazily used it for Poetry Thursday!

Major New ArtistI have spent the last six
years with incense sticks
burning holes in shirts.

Shirts of all types
from Hawaiian to pin stripes
but all have holes burned in.

All the holes are regular
extreme boredom does not deter
me from my art.

Some see meaning in the holes
they are but fools
there is no meaning only art.

previously published at the now defunct Mentress Moon
There's another one too, earlier in this blog here

I posted another poem from the past on Crafty Green Poet today too, you can read it here

Wednesday, July 25, 2018


Through her territorial fence
she watches them
and mutters.

‘Bogus people
begging on the Underground,
stealing food
from the mouths of MY children.’

Over the fence, the children
mourn lost friends
to a backing track
of remembered bombs.

Their Mama dusts desert sand
out of their long dark hair
and wonders whether this week
she can afford to buy them sweets.

Previously published on Leaveners Poets Corner

Meanwhile on Crafty Green Poet I've reposted a poem from 2006, you can read it here.