Editor Deborah Alma on the #MeToo Anthology, for International Women’s Day




I remember back  in October, listening to some of those many conversations that started up in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein allegations and was surprised to hear male news reporters being genuinely shocked when they asked women politicians, actors and media colleagues if they’d ever experienced anything similar, and being told ‘Of course’ and ‘Yes, many times’ and ‘Every woman’.

It prompted me to ask my women friends to add their name on my Facebook page if they hadn’t experienced any form of sexual harassment in their lives and I was surprised to find that of the 200 women that started to share some of their stories , 2 or 3 were able to say that it had never happened to them. My surprise was not that there were so few, but that there were any at all. I wasn’t even aware of the #MeToo thing happening over on Twitter at that point, but as it turned out, very many women were sharing their stories.

I’m a poet, have edited a couple of poetry anthologies, and many of the women on that thread were fellow poets and I knew that some of them had written about domestic and sexual abuse and it occurred to me to collect some of these stories as a poetry anthology.

It has been quite an extraordinary book from start to finish. I asked for submissions through FB and Twitter and received over 600 poems; some of the poems now in the book I already knew and actively sought out …Sarah Doyle’s #MeToo for example I knew from its appearance in The Morning Star and its being shared tens of thousands of times on Twitter, as well as US poet Emily Sernaker’s poem Now When I Think About Women from Poet’s Respond which was also a social media phenomena.

With almost every submission came a covering letter that was often harrowing to read; stories of rape and domestic abuse, a 17 year old girl already a victim of rape and writing about it, betrayals of trust, and declarations of extreme bravery in the sharing of the work. Many of the e-mails required long back and forth conversations as you might imagine, a hand-holding exercise and tenderness both in the saying yes, but also in the I’m so sorry but for reasons of space, or the book as a whole I can’t accept your poem… I felt the responsibility terribly.  I wanted to put the big arms of the book around each and every poet. This was so so difficult to do. I am so delighted that each poet who was long-listed for the book has been given the opportunity to publish their work courtesy of Vik Bennett of Wild Women Press and they can be found here.

Another remarkable thing has been the extraordinary generosity of other women. My good friend and publisher Nadia Kingsley (while we were swimming) offered to upload it to her publishing software and to give me an ISBN, but in the end she has been there at every step of the way, working so hard getting it right and proudly owning the book as part of her Fair Acre Press. A young artist Jessamy Hawke wanted to donate artwork for the project and her ink drawings head each of the 7 sections. My friend Sandra Salter did all of the artwork for the striking cover which she drew when she was angry!

And the final remarkable thing has been, again through a Facebook group made up from the artists and most of the 80 poets in the book, how everyone there feels so strongly about the book being theirs. It feels to me as though we are a string of paper dolls, stretched out and holding hands as we bravely put our names to our several parts of the whole.

And it is brave. We are often having conversations to support each other as we worry about reading these words in public, worry about our families discovering that there has been rape in our past, worrying what our exes might do or say, or our students, our children…
It has been the most enormous privilege to be part of bringing this book into existence. I hope that it will be received with the tenderness it deserves.

#MeToo- rallying against sexual harrassment- a women’s poetry anthology is available from all good bookshops and online



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