#MeToo, a poetry anthology by and for women, will be released on 8th March. Ahead of its publication, poet Deborah Alma talks about the book’s origins.
This book came straight out of a long thread on my Facebook page. I asked women friends of mine to add their name to the thread 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, only 2 or 3 women said that they’d never experienced sexual harassment. I was stunned — not that there were so few, but that there were any My surprise was not that there were so few names on the thread, but that there were any names at all.
These #MeToo conversations are not new, but they started up again in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein allegations. As we listened to male news reporters express shock at the sheer number of women in Hollywood who had experienced sexual assault or harassment, we — ordinary women — flocked to social media to share our own stories, stunned that in 2017 men still didn’t understand just how widespread abuse, assault, and harassment are.
We have shared these stories over and over with our friends, sisters, mothers, partners and sometimes with the police. It has been the water we swim in as women. But saying something publically has always been difficult; brave. The words stick in our throats, for so many reasons.
Something was released and given a space within social media. It was easy to add our voice to the rising shout of #MeToo. We felt the sisterhood. Many women felt emboldened by this to share more difficult stories, more detail; the lid has come off this box and now cannot be forced back on.
I’m a poet, and an editor and someone suggested we collect these stories somehow and it was obvious to me that we should collect the poems.
The response for a short submission window was enormous. I read 300-400 poems and the final selection comes from 80 poets. There is also going to be an online publication of the long-listed poems courtesy of Wild Women Press from March 7th.
I am very proud of this book, but mostly I’m proud of the poets for sharing their stories and for putting their names to their words. It is a painful and difficult read a great deal of the time, but it is an important read.
The final section of the book deals with a coming back to the light; there are poems of recovery and strength out of some very dark places. There are beautiful, peaceful poems that reach out to other women offer if not hope, then at least understanding.
So if you’ve ever been harassed, abused, hurt, humiliated, assaulted, raped, or made to feel lesser because of your gender, then this anthology is for you. I hope you’ll read it and hear its rallying cry of anger and impatience, because we, like you, have had enough.
All profits from the #MeToo anthology will go to the charity Women’s Aid. You can pre-order the collection here, and read one of the poems below.
He Loved Me
The first time he loved me
was in the park down the road
from me mam’s.
It was a kiss of a different kind,
one that left a bruise
on me cheek.
I love you so much, he said
as he wiped me eyes
with his thumb,
I’ll marry you. I’ll be yours.
We’ll be happy and in love,
The next time was after we wed,
in a fancy hotel suite
I wore long sleeves that week.
Even though it was hot,
I was cold.
He loved me a lot, after that.
He said so, every time,
and he cried.
The last time he loved me
was in the kitchen by the door.
I couldn’t breath.
And as the light faded, a thought
so clear it shocked me
to the core.
I didn’t want to be loved by him
— Cath Campbell