Saturday 2 November 2019

Feminists at the Manchester Literature Fesitval

 The Manchester Literature Festival has come and gone for another year, and much inspiration was found there. By both design and accident I ended up going to hear a string of feminist writers. Cathy Newman talked about her book 'Bloody Brilliant Women', a history of all the women who are missing from  ... history. Followed the same afternoon by Caroline Criado Perez, who lead the campaign in 2017 to have Jane Austen on the £10 banknote. Her book 'Invisible Women' catalogues, as she says she had to, the many thousands of tiny ways in which the existence of women is ignored and belittled by society that is designed around men. I kind of skim read the book because it becomes a little depressing and predictable, but all the things she says in it very much needed to be articulated clearly.
The following weekend I volunteered at the Deborah Levy event, and then stayed on with Julie to hear Mona Eltahawy in conversation with Mariam Khan (editor of 'It's not about the Burqa', an anthology of writing by Muslim women). Mona's book 'The Seven Necessary Sins for Women and Girls' is currently being read so I will give you more on that later, nevertheless she is one forthright feminist who doesn't pull her punches.
I was a bit let down by the poetry: one event where neither of the poets used the provided microphone and were unable to project their voices across a small bookshop and the other where I was so tired that I struggled to stay awake. I loved Vona Groarke's reading and may well seek out her collection, and, though we had listened to some of his collection Deaf Republic on Radio 4, I found that Ilya Kaminsky's accent is so strong that I could not have followed the poems without the thoughtfully provided printout (which is pretty much the same as just reading them). Howard Jacobson left an impression by demanding to know why his picture was not on the T-shirts when David Baddiel is. Julie and I also went to the Castlefield Sermon which this year was given by Gillian Slovo. Although she has lived most of her life in Britain she has written about South Africa and expected it to be part of her talk about the hope for democracy, but instead she discussed her work with the Grenfell Tower survivors and then Extinction Rebellion. So it has been a fascinating, but very non-fiction, couple of weeks. 

1 comment:

  1. Well I'm on board with all that as for example when women get to run this planet we will all be a lot better off....


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