Saturday, September 23, 2017

Don't Look at Me that Way (film review)

Hedi (Uisenma Borchu) is the Mongolian neighbour of Iva, a German single mother living with her daughter Sophia. Hedi meets Sophia first and the two become friends but Iva is a little suspicious until she meets Hedi herself and the two women become friends and then lovers. Both women have male lovers as well and unusually for film (where normally bisexuality is portrayed as a phase until a character realises they're really gay / lesbian) the relationships are all just an acknowledged and accepted part of the two women's bisexual identity (though it would be nice if cinema could one day also acknowledge that bisexual characters can commit to a monogramous relationship and still be bisexual).

The relationship between the two women is very believable, as are both their relationships with Sophia, who is a lovely character, a really cheeky, amusing six year old.  Hedi is also a great character, treated to some degree as a scapegoat because she is different in so many ways to those around her, but also envied because of some of the freedoms her cultural difference gives her.

The scenes in Germany are interspersed with vivid scenes of Hedi taking Sophia to meet her grandmother in Mongolia, which are probably dream sequences though this isn't obvious.

I really enjoyed the film up until the point where Hedi starts a relationship with Iva's father. The cinematic trope of the much older man and the much younger woman has been done to death in my opinion and from that point onwards the film significantly deteriorates in my opinion.

The film is directed by Uisenma Borchu and in this interview she talks about the film.

Don't Look at Me That Way screened at Edinburgh Filmhouse for BiVisibility Day and is showing as part of the Scottish Queer International Film Festival which takes place 27 September - 1 October in Glasgow


Friday, September 15, 2017

Some thoughts about submission guidelines for literary journals

As a writer I know that it is up to me to read submissions guidelines for online literary magazines. I also know (as a former editor of an online literary journal) that it is quite easy to have one page of submissions guidelines and to up date that every time the guidelines change rather than to have a different page of almost identical guidelines for every issue of the journal (all of which are live and easily accessible from other websites) and only the page for the latest issue mentioning that the journal is now permanently closed to submissions. I am more than happy to read a lengthy page of guidelines, but not to then find out that it was the wrong lengthy page of guidelines and that I should have read one of the other many lengthy pages of guidelines.

Also although as a writer I am obviously aware of the need to check whether a journal is still open to submissions or whether it is closed for the next few months, on indefinite hiatus, or totally closed down, I am also aware as a former editor that it is quite easy to have 'Submissions Closed' stated clearly at the top of the home page rather than the potential contributor needing to scroll down a densely packed page in size 10 font before they find a wee note that says 'closed to submissions'. 

I also know that editors are generally not paid to edit their journals, I certainly wasn't, and I know that any updating of a website takes time and indeed some websites are set up in ways that make updating tricky, but on the other hand poets are generally not paid for their work and it takes time to research potential outlets.

So, editors please remember it's time consuming for both sides. Those of us submitting to your journal have lots of other things in our lives and how difficult is it for you to take those small steps to help make things easier for us?

Thursday, September 07, 2017

Statue of an Unknown Woman

Edinburgh has more statues of animals than it does of women, which is pretty shocking. This, in Festival Square, is one of the few statues of women in Edinburgh and she isn't even a named woman! The inscription reads:

On bronze plaque in front of sculpture (incised letters):'WOMAN and CHILD' / Erected by The City of Edinburgh District Council. / To honour all those killed or imprisoned / for their stand against apartheid. / Unveiled 22 July 1986 by Suganya Chetty. / Sculpted by Ann Davidson. / 'VICTORY IS CERTAIN' / .EDINBURGH. / THE CITY OF EDINBURGH COUNCIL.

I took this photo while photographing street trees as part of the Woodland Trust's Celebrate Street Trees campaign. You can read my blog post about this campaign here



Wednesday, April 12, 2017

From Commonplace Books to Facebook

This is a longer, edited version of a review I posted yesterday on Facebook. 

Today's talk by Juliet Shields 'From commonplace books to Facebook' was a fascinating insight into how online social media is in some ways a direct descendant from the commonplace books that people used to create to bring together quotes, recipes and other items from different sources and that were often re-read  and also shared between people so they could all add to the same book and share each other's knowledge and ideas. Commonplace books were most popular in the 17th and 18th centuries though some people still make them today.

The commonplace book was separate from two much more private books, which may seem similar - the diary (which would focus on listing and detailing events in one's own life) and the journal (which would offer a chance to write down one's own private thoughts and musings.)

One of the things that most interested me was how many writers used commonplace books as a source of inspiration, which in social media terms, for me at least, is a role most closely served by Pinterest (the visually based social media network, which is well worth checking out if you don't yet know it - you can find the Pinterest references to commonplace books here). 

We are usually aware that online social media offers us a way to present ourselves and create a public persona, but what I hadn't thought about before was how this is a natural evolution from one of the functions of commonplace books. Seen like this, online social media becomes a new way of doing something we've always done, rather than being a technological innovation that is often seen as time wasting and pernicious. Also social media in a sense returns us to a democratic sharing of information that was, apparently the norm, before mass media became the dominant media that we are used to it being. 


Juliet Shields is the Associate Professor of English at the University of Washington in Seattle and is currently the Fulbright Scholar at the National Library of Scotland.  The talk was given at the National Library of Scotland (which is one of the best places in Edinburgh for interesting free talks on a variety of topics related to literature) and drew on the library's collection of commonplace books and diaries. 

I have a book that I occasionally use to write quotes in, but I think I'll start doing this in a more organised way, possibly combining it with elements of scrapbooking. What about you? Do you keep a commonplace book?

Wednesday, March 08, 2017

Girl, Lady, Woman - reposting for International Women's Day

Happy International Women's Day! To mark the occasion I'm reposting my thoughts about the use of the words girl and woman from a year or so back.

***

I'm a woman and resent being referred to as a girl.

In my mind a girl is a female under 18, a young girl is a girl under 12 and a little girl is a girl under 5 or a girl under 12 of particularly small stature.

Some people say calling women girls doesn't matter, but think about it, would you call a male work colleague a boy? If you would then maybe it's fair enough to call your female work colleagues girls, but I'm guessing that most people refer to their male work colleagues as men (or possibly guys) and so should refer to their female work colleagues as women. I've only ever met one man who has ever referred to his male colleages as boys.

There's a time and a place of course to use the word girls - 'Girl's night out' for example, but in that case it's a choice made by a group of women to refer to themselves as girls and is directly equivalent to the use of 'Boy's Night Out'.

Using the word girl to refer to grown up women is just another symptom of the increasing sexism of today's society and it tends to infantalise women. The word 'Girlpower' is an attempt to reclaim the word girl from it's infantalising useage.

Sometimes I think focussing on the use of words detracts from the issues. For example news articles are sometimes devoted to analysing a politician's use of one word or phrase on one occasion while the issue behind the words isn't touched. However, the use of 'girls' to refer to women is persistant and can only I feel undermine a lot of the work done by feminism to move towards the equality of women and men.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Senryu

family meal out -
everybody's eyes are glued
to their mobile phones

Thursday, September 29, 2016

A poem inspired by a dream

Trumped


(inspired by a dream I had a few nights back)

The possible next leader of the so-called free world
is throwing fire crackers round the shopping mall
like a toddler in a temper tantrum who has somehow
got his hands on a gun.

Screams echo round the shops and corridors
people cower behind their shopping trolleys
“Muslims! Mexicans! Terrorists!”
shouts the possible next leader of the so-called free world.

I creep up behind him, pushing my trolley
that is laden with hummus and tacos
I try to calm him down
but he throws a firecracker in my face.

And then I wake.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

St Bernard's Well

It was Doors Open Day yesterday and we visited St Bernard's Well alongside the Water of Leith, a building we have long wanted to visit inside.

Hygeia (the ancient Green goddess of health, the origin of the word hygiene) is a well known landmark along the river, but never before have we been able to get so close to her!

Nor have we ever before stepped inside this wonderful building

The spring was originally discovered by schoolboys in 1760 and later became very popular as a place for taking the waters as a cure for various maladies.

I'm guessing this tiny building would have been incredibly crowded at the height of its popularity! Nowadays its only open on Days Open Days and well worth the visit!

You can see photos from the rest of our walk yesterday over on Crafty Green Poet.




Friday, September 23, 2016

Bi-Visibilty Day

It's happened every year since 1999, but I didn't even know until two minutes ago that Bi-Visibility Day existed - so much for the visibility part of that then!

Anyway instead of concentrating on what I was supposed to be doing I found myself browsing the web for articles and here are some good ones I found:

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 remember, if you're bisexual, this is the day your invisibility cloak doesn't work, so no trying to rob a bank....