#indiechallenge – Purple Prose (ed. Kate Harrad)

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The blurb

Purple Prose: Bisexuality in Britain is the first of its kind: a book written for and by bisexual people in the UK. This accessible collection of interviews, essays, poems and commentary explores topics such as definitions of bisexuality, intersections of bisexuality with other identities, stereotypes and biphobia, being bisexaul at work, teenage bisexuality and bisexuality through the years, the media’s approach to bisexual celebrities, and fictional bisexual characters.

Filled with raw, honest first-person accounts as well as thoughts from leading bisexual activists in the UK, this is the book you’ll buy for your friend who’s just come out to you as bi-curious, or for your parents who think your bisexuality is weird or a phase, or for yourself, because you know you’re bi but you don’t know where to go or what to do about it.

The editor

Kate Harrad is  a published fiction and non-fiction writer. She co-edited The Ladies’ Loos: From Plumbing to Plucking, a Practical Guide for Girls (The Friday Project, 2006), and her novel All Lies and Jest was published by Ghostwoods Books in 2011. She has over a decade of experience working in business editorial/writing positions, and has written for the Guardian, the F-Word and the Huffington Post. She has also been a bi activist for several years, and has co-organized numerous UK bi events.

The publisher

Thorntree Press is an independent publishing company that was founded in 2013 by Eve Rickert and Franklin Veaux. They publish non-fiction books about sexuality, love and ethics with a focus on non-traditional relationship models.

How I got this book

I made a donation to the Indiegogo crowdfunder – a paperback copy was part of the reward level I chose.

The bingo card

This could count towards: ‘A crowdfunded book’; ‘A book from your TBR’; ‘Marginalised people’; ‘Non-fiction’; ‘Book from a micro press’; or ‘LGBTQIA’.

My thoughts

I have a soft spot for this book: I’m a contributor to it, in a very minor way (my poem Circles concludes the chapter on ‘Bisexuality and Faith’). And being a contributor, being part of process of putting this book together, was important to my own process of coming to understand who I was, of moving from an ill-defined conviction that I could call myself bisexual if I really had to, but God forbid it inconvenience anybody else, to a sense that I was part of a community.

But, although it was published back in 2016, I didn’t read it end to end until this year. And I think that what I really enjoyed about it this time round was that same sense of community. I follow many of the other contributors on Twitter; I’ve met some of them in real life, or recognise them as friends of friends. But even if that weren’t the case, even if I’d picked it from the shelf with no prior knowledge, I think I’d recognise myself in it, and be glad of that. It’s a great book for feeling less like you’re the only one who’s ever felt like this.

It’s a joyfully eclectic book, too – for a group that gets stereotyped as much as bisexuals do, we’re an eclectic bunch – and some parts inevitably feel more relevant (or, which is not the same thing) interesting to me than others do – but that’s a good thing. The multiplicity of perspectives makes it that little bit more representative.

#indiechallenge – Squirt (Kate Spencer)

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The blurb

Kate made a discovery. She wrote a poem. She writes lots of poems about sex, sexuality, the body and body and bodily functions. She’s filthy, flirty, and funny; saucy, seductive, and sensual; raunchy, ridiculous, and ravishing. You won’t believe what comes out of her lips.

The author

Kate Spencer is co-producer of Poetry in Motion, the Wellington Feminist Poetry Club and Naked Girls Reading NZ. She’s a national slam finalist, a typewriter poet for hire, an editor, a writer, a promoter, a committed Christian, a dichotomy.

The bookshop

I ordered a copy direct from Kate.

The bingo card

I am going to count this for ‘a poetry collection’, but it would also work for: ‘a debut’; ‘a women’s press’; ‘LGBTQIA’; ‘Marginalised people’; and very possibly ‘Favourite’.

My thoughts

I’m somewhat amused by the way that this challenge started out as an earnest attempt to take on the worthy books that hadn’t got to the top of my TBR pile, and has recently become ‘I read this book by a friend and it’s a hell of a lot of fun’.

It would be funny to say that Kate was the one that the Christian Union warned me about, but I never really got into the Christian Union. Still, by all accounts we had far more fun in the Methodist and Anglican Society. (Not like that.)

Anyway, oblique nostalgia for my university years aside, this book is a hell of a lot of fun. It has all the verve and immediacy that I associate with slam poetry. An extensive vocabulary, creatively and joyfully used (‘Don’t expect me to labour over my labia/epilate before a date/or pluck pre-fuck’). In this book there’s a joy in both sex and words that makes me smile. It’s usually funny (‘don’t tell me I’m ovary-acting’), sometimes angry (‘Fucking is supposed to be fucking consensual/if not, it’s not fucking sensual/it’s a fucking con/and you should be fucking convicted’) and always honest.

Form

My love is older than the rocks:
I planted it when life was young
and watched it bloom with new delight
where a new, hopeful, stream had sprung.
I kept it close through seismic shocks:
betrayal; anger; pain; relief;
then sent it whirling into flight
to take its chance with joy or grief.
Now you can hold it in your hand,
washed clean, worn smooth, by time and tears.
An age of time, a flash of art
brought it to you from dust and sand.
It’s grounded by the weight of years
and rests contented in your heart.

 

*

This is another one written for a Lioness Challenge. There’s something about Elise’s pieces that gets me experimenting with tight forms that I’d usually write off as ‘too much like hard work’ or ‘not for the likes of us’. But in this case, with dinosaur bones for inspiration, it had to be a hoary old form like a sonnet.

A metrical version of the Magnificat, to an appropriate tune for the day

My soul proclaims God’s mighty glory
and my spirit shall rejoice
in God who saves me and exalts me,
who makes the poor his choice.
God’s bounteous blessings fall upon me
from now and through all years:
the mighty one has raised me upward:
God is holy, and God hears!

So take comfort, who suffer; this good news is for you:
Your trials will be changed to triumphs, and you will receive your due;
So take comfort, who suffer, and claim your rightful place:
God loves you, and has chosen you, of all the human race.

God stands with those deprived of power,
and God’s power will win the day;
He gives the hungry food in plenty
and he sends the rich away.
He empties thrones, and lifts the humble,
brings confusion to the proud;
He remembers those who are downtrodden,
and has saved us, as he vowed:

So take comfort, who suffer; this good news is for you:
Your trials will be changed to triumphs, and you will receive your due;
So take comfort, who suffer, and claim your rightful place:
God loves you, and has chosen you, of all the human race.

 

 

After Luke 1 46-55, obviously. You’re welcome to use this in church if you think you can get away with it.

Happy May Day, everyone!

Rood

We –
stand here, helpless,
see him trapped between earth and sky
where we cannot follow –

You –
knew the God in the human,
loved with caress and kiss,
(which is simple, though never easy)
understood, through the bright wreath of pain,
who God was, who he was –

He –
loved to the end and always,
you, me;
saw the only way; told us:
from that hour

I –
who am I, without him?
Who knows, if not you?

Road of Tears

You weep for one you do not know,
for one who walks your streets to die.
Don’t waste your tears: before it’s over,
you’ll call upon the hills to cover
you and your children where you lie
and weep, who reap what others sow.

 

* * *

I wrote this for my friend Kathryn, who needed a text with a specific metre in a bit of a hurry. It’s part of her Stations of the Cross, which was premièred in St Machar’s Cathedral by the University of Aberdeen Chapel Choir last month. She’ll be putting sheet music online once she’s got her PhD out of the way.

It’s more or less a paraphrase of Luke 23: 28-30.

 

Lullaby

My love, the moon is rising;
The sun sinks in the west:
Pull up the blanket of the stars
And rest.

My love, the moon is shining
A path across the deep:
Pull up the blanket of the stars
And sleep.

My love, the moon is showing
A beacon in its gleam:
Pull up the blanket of the stars
And dream.

My love, the moon is setting;
The day begins to break:
Fold up the blanket of the stars
And wake.