Monthly Archives: March 2015

A HUGE thank you

Well, the Bristol Women’s Literature Festival is over for another year – and what a year it was!

Thank you to:

Watershed, for providing a fantastic venue and for all their support over the past year.

Festival of Ideas for their promotion of the event and their endless moral, emotional and practical support.

Foyles for providing the book stall.

The Bristol Palestine Film Festival for their collaboration on the Poetry, Prose and Palestine event.

Jezebel Productions for granting permission to screen Paris was a Woman.

A huge thank you to all our speakers:

Finn Mackay, Helen Lewis and Beatrix Campbell on the Women, Feminism and Journalism panel.

Selma Dabbagh and Alice Guthrie on Poetry, Prose and Palestine.

Dr Emma Rees who talked about the literary and cultural history of the vagina.

Professor Helen Hackett who talked about women writers of Shakespeare’s Time.

Sarah Lefanu, Samantha Ellis, Amy Mason, Helen Mort and Michele Roberts on the Women Writing Today panel.

And thank you to all of you! Who came along, supported the event, shared your thoughts and questions and ideas. We couldn’t do it without you wonderful audience.

Thank you so so much!


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It’s time to discover the Renaissance’s forgotten women

Tickets are still available for Professor Helen Hackett’s talk on the Women Writing in Shakespeare’s Time.

The event promises to be an exciting tour of discovery, as we explore the women writers of the Renaissance who have been forgotten, and bring them back into the canon where they belong.

Helen Hackett is Professor of English at UCL and the author of five books on Renaissance literature. She has special interests in Renaissance women writers and in literary images of Elizabeth I. Her latest book is A Short History of English Renaissance Drama ​(I.B. Tauris, 2013), which includes a section on women’s contribution to drama in Shakespeare’s time.

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The Vagina – a literary and cultural history

Tickets are still available for Emma Rees’ talk on Vulvanomics, exploring her new book, The Vagina: A Literary and Cultural History. The talk takes place at Waterside 3 on Sunday 15 March.

Book your tickets now.

In her new book, academic Emma Rees considers why British and US culture has such a problem when talking about the female body. She maps the long history of advertising that profits from the taboo of the vagina, and she reflects on how writers, artists and filmmakers have been influenced by, or even perpetuate, this ‘shame’.  And it’s not all in the past – the vagina still causes outrage, derision and discomfort today.

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Women, feminism and journalism – exploring the past, present and future of the movement

There are still tickets available for the Women, Feminism and Journalism event on Saturday afternoon.

Some of the UK’s leading feminist writers and activists will be discussing the past, present and future of the feminist movement, and the movement’s relationship with the media.

Book now to join Helen Lewis, Finn Mackay, Beatrix Campbell and Nimko Ali for what promises to be a lively and thought-provoking discussion.

Beatrix Campbell

  • Writer, journalist, broadcaster, playwright;
  • Provocative and influential feminist;

Helen Lewis is deputy editor of the New Statesman, and has written for everywhere from Edge magazine to the New York Times. She is a regular panellist on the BBC’s Sunday Politics, and she tweets: @helenlewis

Finn Mackay has been involved in feminist activism for twenty years and founded the London Feminist Network and the revived London Reclaim the Night in 2004. After a career in policy and training on domestic violence prevention education in local government, Finn returned to academia completing her PhD on the British Women’s Liberation Movement. Finn is currently a Senior Lecturer in Sociology at the University of the West of England and is the author of “Radical Feminism: Feminist Activism in Movement” published with Palgrave (2015). Finn is a Trustee of the Feminist Archive, an Ambassador for the Worker’s Educational Association and serves on the Executive of the Feminist & Women’s Studies Association.

Nimco Ali is a British Somali social activist who has worked as a civil servant and independent consultant. She is co-founder and director of Daughters of Eve, a non-profit organisation which focuses on education and awareness raising to stamp out female genital mutilation (FGM). Nimco is currently working for The Girl Generation: Together To End FGM which celebrates the Africa-led movement to end FGM in one generation. In 2014, Nimco was awarded Red magazine’s Woman of the Year award together with Leyla Hussein for their work with Daughters of Eve, and named number 6 on Woman Hour’s power list.

Nimco is also a trustee for women for refugee women, Emma Humphreys memorial prize and an independent Child protection chair.

Twitter @NimkoAli

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Poetry, Prose and Palestine – discovering the voices of Palestinian writers

There are still tickets available for tomorrow night’s event, Poetry, Prose and Palestine.

Selma Dabbagh will share her own work and the work of other Palestinian women writers.

Selma Dabbagh is a London based British Palestinian writer of novels, short stories and plays. Her first novel, ‘Out of It,’ (Bloomsbury, 2011) is set between Gaza, London and the Gulf and has been voted Guardian Book of the Year. Selma also works as a lawyer. The work of Palestinian writers and poets has been a major influence on their lives. This evening, alongside their own works, Dabbagh and Jacir will read and discuss the poems of other well-known Palestinian writers. Their presentations and discussion will explore how prose and poems challenge the dominant narratives on Palestine and the occupation, reaffirm Palestinian identity and maintain a constant struggle for equality and fairness, land, home and nationhood. She will explore why it is that people on a global level relate with the Palestinian cause in the way that they do and the role that the arts have in influencing activism and change. The event will be chaired by Alice Guthrie.

This event is organized in collaboration with the Bristol Palestinian Film Festival, as part of Conversations about Cinema: Impact of Conflict.

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Women Writing Today – celebrating some of the UK’s most exciting authors

Tickets are still available for Sunday’s event, Women Writing Today.

Writers Michele Roberts, Samantha Ellis, Helen Mort and Amy Mason will join Sarah LeFanu to talk books, careers, inspirations and more in what promises to be a thought provoking discussion.

Michèle Roberts is the author of twelve highly acclaimed novels, including The Looking Glass and Daughters of the House which won the WHSmith Literary Award and was shortlisted for the Booker Prize. Her memoir Paper Houses was BBC Radio 4’s Book of the Week in June 2007. She has also published poetry and short stories, most recently collected in Mud- stories of sex and love (2010). Half-English and half-French, Michèle Roberts lives in London and in the Mayenne, France. She is Emeritus Professor of Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia.

Amy Mason is 32 and currently lives in Oxford. Her debut novel The Other Ida has just won the 2014 Dundee International Book Prize and is published by Cargo. Her autobiographical show The Islanders which she wrote and performed in won the 2013 Ideas Tap/Underbelly Edinburgh Fringe Fund, received 5 and 4 star reviews, and was a ‘must see’ show in The Stage. The illustrated script was published by Nasty Little Press. She is currently working on Mass, a solo show about her relationship with faith.

Samantha Ellis is a playwright and author. The daughter of Iraqi-Jewish refugees, she grew up in London. Her non-fiction book How to be a Heroine, about meeting her literary heroines again, is published by Chatto & Windus. Her plays include Patching HavocSugar and Snow and Cling To Me Like Ivy, and she is a core member of women’s theatre company Agent 160. Her play Operation Magic Carpet will be at the Polka Theatre in April 2015, and she is writing a book for Chatto & Windus about Anne Brontë.

Helen Mort was born in Sheffield in 1985. Her collection ‘Division Street’ is published by Chatto & Windus and was shortlisted for the T.S. Eliot Prize and the Costa Prize. She has published two pamphlets with tall-lighthouse press, ‘the shape of every box’ and ‘a pint for the ghost’, a Poetry Book Society Choice for Spring 2010. Five-times winner of the Foyle Young Poets award, she received an Eric Gregory Award from The Society of Authors in 2007 and won the Manchester Young Writer Prize in 2008. In 2010, she became the youngest ever poet in residence at The Wordsworth Trust, Grasmere.

Helen is currently a Creative Writing Fellow at the School of English, University of Leeds.

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More tickets now available for Paris was a Woman screening

Due to popular demand, Watershed has moved the screening of Paris was a Woman into Cinema One – meaning it is no longer sold out!

So if you thought you had missed out on tickets, your luck is in! Tickets are available online and over the phone.

Here’s the lowdown…

Saturday 14 March 2015, 11am – 1pm

Paris was a Woman film screening 

The Left Bank of 1920s Paris was a hub for women writers, artists and publishers. From Gertrude Stein with her writing experiments and literary salon, to Sylvia Beach running Shakespeare & Company, and Natalie Barney’s decadent parties, women flocked to the city because Paris was ‘the only city in the world where one can live exactly as one pleases.’

Greta Schiller’s 1996 film explores the lives of some of the key Left Bank women, including Stein, Djuna Barnes, Colette, and Sylvia Beach.

The film will be followed by a brief audience discussion, chaired by Sian Norris. Sian is the founder of the Bristol Women’s Literature Festival and is currently writing a book about Gertrude Stein and her circle.

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Looking forward to seeing you all tomorrow!

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