I’ve got something MORE to Say!

Ruth Hartley Storytelling, Art by Ruth Hartley, Dust and RainLeave a Comment

Reading my poem at the launch. Click on the image to see the video.

It was Sunday 26th June. The weather was miserable but the day was both interesting and enjoyable. John and I went to the launch of the second Women’s Voices anthology in the delightful village of Ponsan Soubiran in the Gers. The anthology’s theme is Transition and its title is I’ve got something MORE to Say! It is available on Amazon and well worth reading. I am proud to have a story and two poems as well as some drawings in the book. Along with many of the other contributors I read my poem from the book.

Sally Palmer talks about ‘I’ve got something MORE to say!’

Sally Palmer’s courage and hard work

It’s a brave idea to invite women to contribute stories and poems and not to reject any of them instead offering editorial help and advice. Sally worked with Anne Dickens and Mollie Brotherton and has produced an attractive book filled with fascinating stories, poems and drawings with a cover designed by Kiki Wood. I know how tough a project that is because I did something similar with artists in Zambia for many years. There isn’t a direct equivalence between the writers in Women’s Voices and the artists with whom I worked except for the respect it makes me feel for Sally and her team working as volunteers to create a new initiative that does benefit other people.

The ‘true’ history of my body – charcoal drawings in the book influenced by my time in Zambia and my feminism

Working for artists in Zambia.

Some Zambians in the 1980 – 90s (at that time it was almost all men) decided to be artists because there was no work and they needed to earn a living. Unsurprisingly, their early work was derivative and often plagiarised from other artists. At the gallery we rejected no one but encouraged them to develop their unique way to express themselves while improving their technical and professional skills. My own art benefitted from the experience of working with Zambian artists as I had to think hard about my own methods and purpose. Unsurprisingly as I’m a feminist from the 70’s Women’s Movement in London I was happy when Zambian women too were able to choose to make art – I do like working with other women and sharing experiences and projects. Writers too, learn from working with other writers and that means that Sally Palmer’s Women’s Voices initiative is a good idea. I wish I had had more time to be involved myself but I’ve been very busy this year with the publication of my children’s book Dust and Rain: Chipo and Chibwe save the Green Valley in Zambia and that work continues.

Women’s voices aren’t heard or read as much as men’s

Paintings by Anne Dickens
Some of my books on display next to Kate Rose’s poems titled ‘Brushstrokes’

That may seem hard to believe. More women make art than men. More women than men are writers. More women read non-fiction than men.  Is it because the markets of art, literature and film are male-dominated? The reason given is often put down to taste and genre. In other words women write (and read) about feelings and men write (and read)  about action. Is that true? Is that also true about art or is it more to do with marketers’ profits than the products and creators of writing and art?

Selling art and books is difficult hard work

One reason it is so unpleasant is that in today’s world successful writers and artists are sold as celebs along with their books and art and celebs are sometimes adored and inevitably trolled. Writing and making art is a private business until you need to publish, sell and market your stories. Even though many of us are teachers and lecturers and can persuade, sell and teach on other subjects and on behalf of other people we find it takes practice and confidence in our own achievement to talk about it publicly. We also have to learn new tech skills and be ready to talk to a camera! We may wish we didn’t have to do all this but we must if we are to find readers So – let’s face it – one of the best things Sally Palmer and her team have done is create a supportive forum for this essential process for writers. Women’s Voices – is – and – are – important!

The launch of I’ve got something MORE to say! was a great sucess. I had intended to publish this post earlier but we’ve all been too preocupied with the events in Westminster so I hope now is the right moment!

The cover of my book is painted by an artist and a friend from Zambia – Style Kunda

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