Report on Heartlines Poetry and Music event for International Women’s Day 2022

To mark International Women’s Day, 8th March 2022,  the Heartlines Creative Writing Group put on a subtle programme of poetry, prose and research celebrating women in history and modern times. A score of writers shared the lines they had penned that ranged from amusing to radical, exasperated to angry, observational to whimsical – and always served with wit and perspicacity.

Co-ordinated by Liz McPherson, who has worked with the group for a number of years, the title of Break the Bias allowed some piercing rhetoric, waspish observations and moving poetry to explore feminism in 2022. Additionally an all-female a capella group, Harissa, offered some spicy bon mots of their own. And Maria Sandle‘s songs inspired us with both upbeat and thought-provoking lyrics. What a way to celebrate!

Tongue-in-cheek paean of praise to a long-standing hubby, or a golfer’s revenge on a patronising male player. A Viking warrior waiting for Odin’s call proved by science to be, awkwardly, a female clearly lauded and respected with a ceremonial burial.

Some sharp observations on the colour of skin in the treatment of murder victims, and migrants, interspersed the lighter moments considering what werewomen do at the full moon or the fate of the glass ceiling and the male dinosaur. And all humans living today trace their ancestry to a single woman, Mitochondrial Eve, living in Africa some 200,000 years ago. Matriarchy rules OK.

Tributes to a long-ago friend who finally ‘came out’, and the Afghan girl football team who have found a new life here but left old families behind; the choices they had been promised were taken from them and their young friends. The plight of so many migrants fleeing from oppression was highlighted by the news coming from the borders of Ukraine, overwhelmed by frightened children and their mothers determined to give them a better life. (A bucket collection raised £116 for supporting them.)

Some background information on the women in music who were unsung. Sorry, an obvious joke for a very insightful piece. Accompanied by the equally unacknowledged brave women of a special wartime regiment of pilots disbanded as soon as they had proved their worth. Free-thinking sufragettes Mary Gawthorp and Leonora Cohen lived locally and were significant in raising both consciousness and publicity for the cause. I mused what would be the modern equivalent of taking a crowbar to the Crown Jewels in the Tower of London?

Finally, in praise indeed of old women. We may be grey but we are not who you think we are! Girls Just Want to Have Fun was the finale by Harissa. We do. We did.

Tea and home-baked cakes supplied by the sponsors of this event, Headingley LitFest, was a delightful way to end the morning.

Sally Bavage 

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