Sexual Harassment/Poetry in Potato Bags – Poetry News Roundup November 1st

In our round up today we take a look at the poets who are fighting back against sexual harassment with poetry and we look at the Poetry in Potato Bags Project.

Don’t be Sorry to be a Woman Says McKayla Robbins

It is hard not to tune into the news at the moment without hearing the stories of sexual assault that are emerging in Hollywood.  But long before the birth of #MeToo there were strong female poets who were heavily involved in writing poems that were both fierce and empowering; poems that spoke of the female experience and discussed sexual harassment and the many other types of abuse that women face every day.

These poets, women like McKayla Robbin, Rupi Kaur and Yrsa Daley-Ward, have one big message and they want to make sure that it is heard loud and clear; talk about it, unite as one, and most importantly whilst it is okay to feel hurt it is vital to stand strong in the face of these adversities.

In her 2016 collection of poetry “We Carry the Sky” McKayla Robbin wrote “I have seen women wrap their lives quietly in parentheses, while men take over whole countries with their fists.” The collection was published in December 2016 just a few months after tapes surfaced in America showing President Donald Trump making lewd comments about women. Robbin says that these events were certainly at the front of her mind when she wrote the poems. These events were followed shortly after by the Women’s March in Washington and around the world.

The collection has just been turned into a short film, a film in which women from different backgrounds, stages of life and of different ages read her lines of powerful poetry. Elizabeth Masucci, who was given the job of bringing the poetry to life really wanted to do because the topic touched on are dark yet at the same time include an element of grace, nature, beauty and unity. Masucci has previously worked to produce films using the poetry of other women poets like Maya Angelou and Meghan O’Rourke.

Potatoes with a Side Order of Poetry

Since the 1850’s the town of Leeuwarden in The Netherlands and Malta have been exchanging potato seeds and potatoes. However, in the last couple of years these potato shipments have been accompanied by a side order of poetry. In 2015 several customers opened their sacks of potatoes to discover that in addition to the potatoes they were expecting they had also been sent a poem; inspired by potatoes.

Each year eight different poets are set the task of writing potato inspired poetry; some choose the social aspect of the starchy vegetable, others a memory or the senses. The project is particularly interesting to the locals for whom there is a deep potato tradition; Qrendi. In fact, in the past praise for this humble vegetable has even been piled on by the likes of the renowned poet Sylvia Plath

The Poetry in Potato Bags Project sees each poem translated into a further three languages meaning it is produced in Maltese, English, Dutch and Frisian (the dialect of the region). They are then printed or stitched onto bags and distributed to schools where they are used to teach children about poetry.

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