Fire in the belly

Strong Women, Wild Women

WILD "...living in a state of nature, not cultivated, stormy, furious, rash, extravagant, excited, unrestrained, tempestous, eager, frantic, enthusiastic, random, feral, free, untamed, undomesticated, uncontrollable, turbulent, unihibited, unfettered, delightfully enjoyable..."


The Nature of Class

Natasha Carthew

There are two stand-out moments for me that are happening this Spring, one of which is the publication of my new book BORN BETWEEN CROSSES which has been a very personal, heart-wrenching journey and the other is an interconnecting expedition that links writers nationally, the Nature Writing Prize for Working Class Writers.

BORN BETWEEN CROSSES, my eighth book is a collection of prose-poetry that celebrates the work of rural working-class women, which has just published with the award-winning Hypatia Books.

Standing in the place where the crosses borne by working-class women meet, my interconnecting collection is, I hope, a truthful telling of overlooked rural lives. It took me three months to write this book, but a lifetime to collect the tales of my childhood; these stories are not just my experiences but those of my Mother, my Grandmother, and the hard-working female community that surrounded us on our small rural council estate in Downderry, our village on the south coast of Cornwall. Whilst writing the book, I could hear their voices shout to me from upstairs windows, could hear their singing from the doorsteps to the music that was always playing, their whispers came to me on the wind, asking, ‘remember me.’

The book is divided into four sections inspired by fire, water, earth, air and follows Mother Nature (the ultimate Mother), representing the fifth element, space, as a non-linear narrator who drifts between stories and timelines, peeping in on the many female characters that inhabit the stories of coastal villages, market towns and moorland farms over the course of a year. 

'A beautiful piece of writing, such a testament to the generations of strong women who have inhabited this coast and told in a poetic Cornish accent so evocative of time and place’

RAYNOR WINN - Writer

It’s an exploration of rural working women and is an incisive intersection of working-class and nature writing. The lived experiences of women cleaners, care assistants, farmworkers, factory workers, housewives and prostitutes rendered here in an interconnecting collection of prose-poetry that address the challenges that relate to working-class women from a rural, low-wage ‘work’ perspective and I’m really pleased to announce that I will be touring the UK and Ireland with BORN BETWEEN CROSSES throughout 2021 

It’s really important to me both as a reader and a writer, that stories are told from a working-class perspective and that is why last year I set up The Nature Writing Prize for Working Class Writers, a literary prize to break down barriers to nature writing and what is perceived as a nature writer. 

The prize, which is free to enter, encourages self-identifying working-class writers from all over the UK to dig deep into the dirty world of nature writing, whether they live in the country or in towns and cities.

I’m often asked why a Prize for Working Class Writers is so important in literary culture and my first answer is always that working-class voices are increasingly absent from publishing and the media, especially nature writing, but I hope this prize is slowly changing that.

It's important to me that this prize is accessible, breaking down barriers and providing a platform to celebrate the diversity that exists in nature writing (poetry, field notes, memoir, travelogue etc), celebrating nature whilst providing a platform for underrepresented writers. Nature writing exists because we as individuals want to understand our own engagement and our place within it. It decentralises us and reminds us that we are not the only focus or thing of importance on the planet. 

The best nature writing conveys a clear sense of place and focuses on the natural world and our human relationship with it.

I set up the prize to burst the stereotype of what it means to be a nature writer and to celebrate the diversity of authentic voices in our country, the kind of working-class voice that doesn't just come from the country but the towns, cities, housing estates, parks and the overlooked landscapes like industrial, train tracks, wasteland, everywhere.

The Prize includes:

• Publication in the Countryman magazine

• Editorial Feedback from Gaia/Octopus Books

• A Weekend’s stay with National Trust Properties

• Paid opportunity to produce a piece of nature writing based on their NT stay

• A selection of Little Toller Books of their choosing 

To Enter, please send up to 1000 words to: workingclassnatureprize@gmail.com

Closing date: 7th June 2021

(Natasha is our Wild Woman Web Thread Spinner for May at Wild Women Press)

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Nature Wisdom

Rejuvenating Your Body

by Ruth Snowden

(image — reproduced with permission by Ruth Snowden)

The summer months, with their rejuventating fire energy (if we get some sunshine!) are a good time to give your body a good overhaul. Are you satisfied with your body image? How would you really like to look and feel inside your body? Have a look through some old magazines and cut out any pictures and phrases that express how you would like your body to be. Don’t limit yourself — for example, maybe you are eighty but would like to feel young, fit, and supple? By choosing imagery such as bending willow trees, or a graceful dancer, you can send subtle messages to your unconscious, to help re-programme your body image and metabolism.

Use your chosen images to make a collage on a piece of card. You can include words too if you wish, such as energy, strong, or well. When you have finished, put your picture up somewhere where you will look at it often. This will encourage you, subconsciously, to work towards achieving the body image that you want. You can add to its strength by creating an altar that manifests your chosen body image — for example, you might choose a particular pebble or plant to mind strength. Go with what feels right for you!

When you are working on your body image, or on a health problem, it is always important to pay particular attention to your dreams. They often bring us hints and clues as to what is blocking our energy, or things that we could do to improve our bodies.

Another way to do it, is through some spontaneous creative writing. Try beginning with one of the following prompt phrases, and then write for five or ten minutes, without stopping or editing, or thinking too much — just let the writing happen:

If I was…I could…
When I was a teenager, I…
I wish I could…
My body is…
If I was fitter, I
What stops me is….

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What oracle are we using?

Triple Goddess Tarot Book and Deck Set

Written by Isha Lerner; Illustrated by Mara Friedman; Foreword by Vicki Noble

The Triple Goddess Tarot consists of twenty-two Major Arcana Cards, referred to as Alchemy Cards, plus four additional, original Alchemy Cards - Infinite Bliss, Infinite Truth, Infinite Potential, and Trinity - in beautiful designs that invoke a twenty-six-step journey into the mystery and wisdom of the Sacred Feminine. 

Also included is a set of seven original cards representing the chakras of the body that can be used either with the rest of the deck or as a separate oracle unto itself for the purpose of illuminating and revitalizing life energy.

Published by Bear and Co. and Inner Traditions in 2002.

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What are we reading?

Hag

by DAISY JOHNSON (Author)  Kirsty Logan (Author)  Emma Glass (Author)  Eimear McBride (Author)  Natasha Carthew (Author)  Mahsuda Snaith (Author)  Naomi Booth (Author)  Liv Little (Author)  Imogen Hermes Gowar (Author)  Irenosen Okojie (Author)

From the islands of Scotland to the coast of Cornwall, the mountains of Galway to the depths of the Fens, these forgotten folktales howl, cackle and sing their way into the 21st century, wildly reimagined by some of the most exciting women writing in Britain and Ireland today.

'A thoroughly original package that has a hint of Angela Carter' The Times

Publisher: Little, Brown Book Group
ISBN: 9780349013596

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What are we listening to?

Revolutionary Love — Ani DiFranco

Revolutionary Love shines with a brilliant light that uncovers the darkness of hatred in ourselves and others; it burns with the fire of a passion to embrace the world around us and the world inside us, both worlds that ignite sparks of fierce anger and turbulent love. (Folk Alley)


That’s all for this month. Don’t forget to pop over to Wild Women Press, where you can find more by wild women around the world. You can also follow us on Twitter or Facebook too!