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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Julia Webb, on the Eve of International Women’s Day



All the Women

all the women, all the women
of Texas flock towards it
(Hilda Sheehan, The Box of Books 1)

all the women, all the women
are inside me now
shouting that this is a fine day for it
that they needn’t have brought their brollies,
their rain faces, their fold up kagoules

whose voice is loudest I couldn’t tell you

I speak acorns and buttresses
I speak water lilies and doves
the day is a wedding
and shortly we will all climb with our brimming glasses
aboard a vintage double decker

but the women, the women
they are building their bakeries inside me
they are making baklava and baking exquisite cakes
they are replacing my blood with confectioner’s custard
and icing the insides of my breasts

and they are right it is a fine day for it
the sky is smiling widely showing its teeth of birds
no bombs are falling
we have 24 hour supermarkets and online shopping

and there are books, books galore on ebay and in libraries
we can pick them up and check them out
we can put them under our jumpers and take them home

but the women, the women
are camped on the edge of the deep dark pool
they are writing their epic poems on the inside of my skin
they are filling me up with shopping lists
chapters of novels, letters and bills
I am word confetti

I open my book beak and inadvertently sing


Julia Webb has an MA in Poetry from UEA. She is a poetry editor for Lighthouse and works as a creative writing tutor. Her first collection Bird Sisters was published by Nine Arches Press in 2016.


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Stephen Claughton




Musical Ear


Then there was the Welsh, male-voice choir

that followed you around. They’d been at it for weeks,

you said, turning up unannounced

like carol singers at inconvenient times.


You hadn’t minded at first. At least, their singing was good —

heavenly, you described it, better than any of the choirs

you remembered from your childhood,

especially the solo tenor — out of this world.


The problem was you couldn’t make them stop.

Instead you tried drowning them out,

la-la-la-ing away at the top of your voice,

you versus all those men.


Or if that didn’t work, you’d resort to the radio,

turning it up loud even at three in the morning —

fortissimo Radio 3, fortississimo Classic FM.

But either they were deaf, or wouldn’t take the hint.


Of course, I couldn’t hear them, but you still insisted I try.

We sat like a couple of kids sharing a set of headphones,

or as we’d been years ago with the wireless warming up

for “Listen with Mother” again.


You wouldn’t accept that the voices were all in your head.

They sang Land of my Fathers in Welsh,

all three verses word perfectly throughout,

so how could it be you? You only knew the first two.



Stephen Claughton’s poems have appeared most recently in London Grip, Poetry Salzburg Review and The Poetry Shed.  London Grip and Poetry Salzburg Review credits are for forthcoming issues (both Spring 2018).



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Rachel Carney




Coming Home


Bridal ghosts of cherry trees

welcome me home:

still, mute, white omens in thick night,


their laced branches held out

like an offering – a glimmer of serenity,

a brittle bridge leading me back


into a tunnel of trees that stretch eternally:

copper beaches, burning at sunset,

yews that darkly cover over graves,


a lilac opened up, at the border

of childhood, birch trees shedding

their soft skin, exposing their souls.



Rachel Carney is a book blogger at www.createdtoread.com and has had poems published in The High Window Journal, The Open Mouse and Sarasvati Magazine. She also writes articles and reviews for various magazines and websites.


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Neil Richards






The light chatters to itself

It’s never known darkness


Each hour we are cut from sleep

To check we are still breathing


The door to sleep must be left open



Neil Richards has been writing poetry regularly for just over a year. He is a regular on the local open mic circuit and performed at last year’s Wychwood festival. This year will see the publication of his first pamphlet, published by the Cheltenham Poetry Festival press, and will see his first performance at the Cheltenham Poetry Festival.

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William Bedford



Listening to the Cock*

I lived and worked in America. As the years passed by, I did not grow any younger.

Marc Chagall.


New York! New York! O my America!

my new-found land of skyscrapers and hope

as the millions walk their walk to death.


You cannot leave your life behind you.

Death walks beside you. Death is there.

And Listening to the Cock is not America.


The cockerel is its own red background,

with acrobatic legs and gaudy head,

a fiddler fiddling in the bird’s tail-feathers.


And do you see the egg the cockerel

waits to lay, male and female together!

I thought that was witty. I thought that was love,


like the cow turning its eyes towards us,

on its face the faces of two young lovers.

They said the images were old Chagall –


the crescent moon, the tree on its head –

but the cockerel’s crow wakes a new dawn,

my ruddy dawn lighting the world of lovers.


Is that hope? Is that America?

New York! New York! O my America!

my new found land of skyscrapers and hope.





William Bedford’s poetry has appeared Agenda, The Dark Horse, The Frogmore Papers, Encounter, ink sweat & tears, The Interpreter’s House, The John Clare Society Journal, London Magazine, The Malahat Review, The New Statesman, Poetry Review, Poetry Salzburg Review, The Tablet, Temenos and The Warwick Review. Red Squirrel Press published The Fen Dancing in March 2014 and The Bread Horse in October 2015. He won first prize in the 2014 London Magazine International Poetry Competition.



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