Category Archives: Words of Women

On writing

Dear Reader,

I’ve spent the afternoon trawling through social media and news reports to find a topic to write about in this week’s letter. One that is unique. That would grab your attention and hold it. Because, unsurprisingly, just like you I get bored reading the same thing over and over again, even if it is merely worded a little bit differently.
And then I read several articles about Lionel Shriver and her keynote speech at the Brisbane Writers Festival with opposing viewpoints. Her speech was fundamentally about cultural appropriation and how anyone can tell anyone’s story. Or as Yassmin Abdel-Magied viewed it, exploiting the stories of ‘others’ so your story was better. Continue reading On writing

Sexism did not have a break

Dear Reader,

How was your summer? For me it was time where although I enjoyed the break from deadlines and pressures, it was one where events around the world made me wish I could write a thousand letters for this column.

The Olympics were, once again, a hugely successful event for British athletes. Note I use the word athlete there and do not precede it with ‘female.’ The media coverage surrounding the athletes who happened to be women was archaic, often putting their success down to who they were married to or fathered by. There were also comments on how theses women looked and on what they were wearing. And this didn’t just happen to the athletes, but the commentators as well and I found myself frustrated by the reporting and belittling of their achievements by journalists needing to link these successful women to men. When their successes have nothing at all to do with men. Sure their husbands/partners must be wonderfully supportive – I’d like to think – in order for them to win a medal at an Olympic games, but that’s not why they’ve won. The men in their lives weren’t the ones training for hours and days and weeks. They weren’t the ones dedicating their whole lives to achieve their dream. No, that was them, the athletes themselves. This girl really can!

 And then over the summer holidays there were horrific murders of women, where newspapers and reports focused on solely their killers, their husbands, portraying them as ‘troubled,’ ‘under pressure,’ and saying their murderous, violent, horrific acts were ‘out of character.’ The women killed vanished and became invisible. We were told nothing about them. There were no column inches dedicated to them. They were purely defined as mothers, or wives, not women. Women whose lives have been cruelly cut short by men they loved and trusted. It’s abhorrent. Continue reading Sexism did not have a break

Dear Karma,

How are you? I wanted to write and check you were working ok because recent events have led me to believe that you may have gone a bit skew-whiff.

Every time I speak to loyal and dear friends, or turn on the news, or flick through my Twitter timeline bad things are happening to good people. And I’m not saying I necessarily want bad things to happen to bad people, but it would be nice if the world evened itself out a bit.

Although, maybe good things are happening and they are just not reported. However, in the current climate, where bombs in Bagdad are killing hundreds of innocent people, iconic celebrities are dying at the rate of knots, shooters are killing people for who they love, racism is alive and kicking once more, famous murderers are being imprisoned for stupidly short amounts of time, and the twats that got us into this Brexit mess are resigning without facing any of the consequences that come with such a mad decision, I fail to see how this could be true.

I’m in hospital with my seven year old at the moment and will be for a while yet and he’s developed a rather morbid fascination with wanting to watch the news. He claims he hates Nigel Farage and says he’s a nasty man, an opinion I will not argue with, and he thinks that the nurses and the doctors who are looking after him should run the world because they are nice people. And he has a point. Continue reading Dear Karma,

Dear you… THANK YOU!

Today is Time to Talk day, where those of us that have suffered from mental ill health reach out and talk about our experiences. Where we encourage others to do the same without fear or shame. I thought long and hard about what to write. And a thank you letter to everyone who supported me when I was ill was what made most sense. And if you know someone who is depressed then maybe this will help you both. Two birds and all that…

Dear you,

Thank you for not judging me. But for listening, and nodding without telling me I was being silly. You never tried to fix me. You never tried to change me. You knew I was ill and you knew I’d get better. Even when I doubted I even wanted to. Continue reading Dear you… THANK YOU!

Hat wearing cats ruined my life

by Jen Faulkner

This week I was angered by an article, partly entitled, ‘I want to drown my baby.’ Frustratingly it was an interesting and informative article about post-natal depression, and as to why more women don’t speak up and ask for help. And ironically one of the reasons they potentially don’t shout out loud for assistance is because they are afraid that people will assume they want to harm themselves or their child, exactly what the headline quoted. And so, this week’s letter was an easy one to write….

Dear Media,

This week, as well as on countless other occasions, you’ve taken a vitally important topic and completely devalued it by insisting on attaching it to sensationalist and unnecessarily brutal headlines.

Recently it was The Telegraph who potentially caused an entire generation of post-natally depressed women to burrow themselves even further away from support and reaching out with an atrocious headline that completely missed the mark. Continue reading Hat wearing cats ruined my life

Lucy English: Poet and Professor on Studying Creative Writing

Lucy English

Photo from Bath Spa University Website
Lucy English.  Bath Spa University Website

Born in Sri Lanka. Grew up in London. Went to Uni in East Anglia to do English and American Literature and Fine Art. Had kids. Kept writing. Did an MA in Creative Writing in 1996. First book published 1998. Started doing performance poetry in 1996. Started teaching. Further novels published in 1999 and 2001. Kept doing poetry. First collection published by Burning Eye 2014.

I started working at Bath Spa as an hourly paid lecturer in 1998. I got a permanent post in 2001. I became a Reader in 2013.

My latest project is for my PhD. It’s a contemporary reimagining of a Book of Hours, which were originally religious texts containing a selection of readings and pictures. My version is going to secular and digital. It consists of 48 poetry films which will reflect the month and time of day. As well as the creative project I will be examining audiences for poetry films. I have become fascinated in the poetry film genre recently and I run a small poetry film festival in Bristol and Bath. Poetry films have a small but intense following and I would like to explore ways of expanding this. The Book of Hours is a collaborative project, as film makers will be making the films and an interaction designer will be creating the site. It’s all in the early stages right now but the first batch of films have been made in collaborations with Marc Neys. I adore his work. It’s moody and reflective. Just what I want for The Book of Hours. Continue reading Lucy English: Poet and Professor on Studying Creative Writing

‘New Beginnings’ writing competition


Beauty Magazines Never Taught me how to be a Wolf

When I forget I’m worth more
than the rumples of my belly,
I strip off my clothes,
let others draw me.
Here, my thighs – the trunks of trees,
The fur of my pits,
the fur of other places…
My hips: expansive brackets.
My mouth: a red-hot
pocket for my fangs.

Roberta Verdant is a Bristol-based freelance writer. She blogs for the Huffiington Post. She loves wild swimming and dancing barefoot. Read more about her and what she offers at:

Words of Women – Call for Submissions

Time to see you work in print! Call for submissions!

We are currently accepting literary works for publication for our new section Words of Women for Bristol Woman on the theme of  New Beginnings.

Deadline for submission: 9th October

Email to:

Do you have creative work you would like to share? We are looking for budding poets, prose and monologues! 

No more than 2 poems per person on each theme. In the region of 40 lines
Word document

No more than one entry per person on each theme.1,500 words MAX
Word document

No more than one entry per person on each theme.! In the region of 40 lines
Word document

Link to youtube/ vimeo/ website

Email submissions to:
Indicate clearly in subject heading the category and theme that you are sending your work to be considered for.
Work is published on a quarterly basis.
We only accept work for our quarterly theme.

Content can be submitted by anyone and should strive to adhere to the guidelines outlined below. 

If you have any literary works you would like to submit but would like to discuss it first, please get in touch.

1.     The work must include original and informative content.

  1. All content that is submitted to Bristol Woman for publication must be 100% exclusively owned by you.
  2. Literary content is defined as written material as either poetry, prose or monologues.

2.     The work does not have to be in English.

  1. We want to celebrate Bristol as a diverse city and will consider publishing work in various languages.
  2. All articles must be worded naturally and in a manner that allows for easy understanding.

3.     The article must not contain unattributed content to which the author does not have rights.

  1. Work must be attributed to only ONE author or co-author and NOT belong to multiple parties or the public domain.
  2. Private Label Rights article packs are content available for anyone to purchase and place their name on. These will not be acceptable for publication.

4.     The work must not contain profanity or pornographic material.

  1. Any work that contain sexually explicit material is prohibited.
  2. Profane language and slang terminology consists of expletives, racial slurs, and vulgar euphemisms, and have no place in professional and informative articles or in their titles. If you wouldn’t hear it in a PG movie, keep it out of your articles.

5.     The work must not contain illegal content.

  1. We reserve the right to determine what content is suitable for publication in the magazine. We will not accept content determined to be overly controversial, having a questionable legal status, or anything not consistent with the nature of the magazine.

Interview with Kate Johnson, Literary Agent

Words of Women Editor: Shagufta Iqbal

Kate1. Brief biog about yourself?

I’m an agent at the New York-based Wolf Literary Services. Previously, I worked for literary magazines and reviews such as the then-Chicago-based StoryQuarterly and And I secretly believe it is the scandalous name of the latter that secured my job at Georges Borchardt, Inc., another literary agency in New York, where I had worked for about eight and a half years before moving to Wolf. As with most folks in the publishing industry, work is so much a part of my life and identity, but when I’m not reading or doing bookish things, I like to run (OK, “jog” is more accurate), cook, paint, and collect stamps in my passport.

Continue reading Interview with Kate Johnson, Literary Agent