A Celebration of Women’s Poetry for International Women’s Day 2018

 

‘A History of Love Letters’ by Seanín Hughes
 
Miss said every time I told a lie,
Baby Jesus had a nail hammered
into his hand.
She said I had a sad mouth,
corners downturned, pointing
to hell.
 
Stephen with the p-h had a mouth
like sunshine. I gave him a token:
a tiny toy dinosaur egg, pale blue and gold.
I wrote his name on my hand
and hoped the egg would hatch.
 
My body grew and Granny said, never
shave your legs, so I did. Better bald
spring chicken; better descaled
and plucked bare for boys
to touch with their nervous fingers,
and work me open.
 
The one who wrote love letters
spilled his entrails in black Bic biro,
telling me in no particular order
the parts of me he liked best —
some illustrated.
 
When Napoleon begged his Josephine
to lay herself bare, he meant
for her flaws to fold her
into neat and precious squares —
for her to be less than
his clenched-fist heart could hold.
 
In place of a filigree pen,
my hands hold pistachios
peeping from the lips
of yawning oatmeal shells,
ripe and given up easily
for a hungry mouth
that isn’t my own.
 
A History of Love Letters is ©  Seanín Hughes
Seanín Hughes is an emerging poet from County Tyrone who will shortly commence study of BA Hons English with Ulster University as a mature student.
Seanín was first published on Poethead in July 2017 and was selected for the Crescent Arts Centre’s Poetry Jukebox, launched in October 2017. She has work published or forthcoming both online and in print, including Banshee: A Literary Journal, The Blue Nib, A New Ulster and NI Community Arts Partnership’s Poetry In Motion anthology. Seanín is a longlistee for the Seamus Heaney Award for New Writing, 2018.
'Love' by Müesser Yeniay

I have another body
outside 
               of me

they call it
love

[but this is pain]

if I had carried you in my body
only then I would have felt your existence 
                                       this much

Love is © Müesser Yeniay

MÜESSER YENİAY was born in İzmir, 1984; she graduated from Ege University, with a degree in English Language and Literature. She took her M.A on Turkish Literature at Bilkent University. She has won several prizes in Turkey including Yunus Emre (2006), Homeros Attila İlhan (2007), Ali Riza Ertan (2009), Enver Gökçe (2013) poetry prizes. She was also nominated for a Pushcart Prize by Muse Pie Press in USA. Her first book Darkness Also Falls Ground was published in 2009 and her second book I Founded My Home in the Mountains a collection of translation from world poetry. Her second poetry book I Drew the Sky Again was published in 2011. She has translated the poems of Persian poet Behruz Kia as Requiem to Tulips. She has translated the Selected Poems of Gerard Augustin together with Eray Canberk, Başak Aydınalp, Metin Cengiz (2011). She has also translated the Personal Anthology of Michel Cassir together with Eray Canberk and Metin Cengiz (2011). Lately, she has published a Contemporary Spanish Anthology with Metin Cengiz and Jaime B. Rosa. She also translated the poetry of Israeli poet Ronny Someck (2014) and Hungarian poet Attila F. Balazs (2015). She has published a book on modern Turkish Avant-garde poetry The Other Consciousness: Surrealism and The Second New (2013). Her latest poetry book Before Me There Were Deserts was published in 2014 in İstanbul. Her poems were published in Hungarian by AB-Art Press by the name A Rozsaszedes Szertartasa(2015).

Her poems have appeared in the following magazines abroad: Actualitatea Literară (Romania), The Voices Project, The Bakery, Sentinel Poetry, Yellow Medicine Review, Shot Glass Journal, Poesy, Shampoo, Los Angeles Review of Books, Apalachee Review (USA & England); Kritya, Shaikshik Dakhal (India); Casa Della Poesia, Libere Luci, I poeti di Europe in Versi e il lago di Como (Italy); Poeticanet, Poiein (Greece); Revue Ayna, Souffle, L’oiseau de feu du Garlaban (France); Al Doha (Qatar); Tema (Croatia); Dargah (Persia).

Her poetry has appeared in With Our Eyes Wide Open; Aspiring to Inspire, 2014 Women Writers Anthology; 2014 Poetry Anthology- Words of Fire and Ice (USA) Poesia Contemporanea de la Republica de Turquie (Spain); Voix Vives de Mediterranee en Mediterranee, Anthologie Sete 2013 ve Poetique Insurrection 2015 (France); One Yet Many- The Cadence of Diversity ve ayrıca Shaikshik Dakhal (India); Come Cerchi Sull’acqua (Italy).

Her poems have been translated into Vietnamese, Hungarian, Croatian, English, Persian, French, Serbian, Arabic, Hebrew, Italian, Greek, Hindi, Spanish and Romanian. Her book in Hungarian was published in 2015 by AB-Art Publishing by the name “A Rozsaszedes Szertartasa” She has participated in the poetry festivals like Sarajevo International Poetry Festival, September 2010 (Bosnia-Herzegovina); Nisan International Poetry Festival, May 2011 (Israel); Belgrad International Poetry Festival, September 2012 (Serbia); Voix Vives International Poetry Festival (Sete), July 2013 (France); Kritya International Poetry Festival, September 2013 (India), Galati/Antares International Poetry Festival, June 2014 (Romania), Medellin International Poetry Festival, July 2014 (Colombia); 2nd Asia Pacific Poetry Festival 2015 (Vietnam). Müesser is the editor of the literary magazine Şiirden (of Poetry). She is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Turkish literature at Bilkent University, Ankara, and is also a member of PEN and the Writers Syndicate of Turkey.

‘where the lost things go’ by Anne Casey
 
we sat upon a golden bow
my little bird and i
indivisibly apart
we dived into the sky
and to the purple-hearted dark
an ocean we did cry
for all the lost things
gathered there
in rooms beyond the eye
the aie, the I, the eye
 
where the lost things go is © Anne Casey

(First published in ‘where the lost things go’ (Salmon Poetry 2017), with eternal gratitude to Jessie Lendennie, Publisher and tireless campaigner for women poets.)

Anne Casey’s poetry has appeared internationally in newspapers, magazines, journals, books, broadcasts, podcasts, recordings and a major art exhibition. Salmon Poetry published her debut collection, where the lost things go in 2017. She won the Glen Phillips Novice Writer Award 2017 and has been shortlisted for prizes including Cuirt International Poetry Prize, Eyewear Books Poetry Prize and Bedford International Writing Competition, among others. Originally from west Clare, now living in Sydney, Anne is Co-Editor of ‘Other Terrain’ and ‘Backstory’ literary journals (Swinburne University, Melbourne).

‘If I Had Known’ by Marie Curran 
 
If I had known what I know now,
I wouldn’t have been silent,
If I had known the counting clock,
I’d have asked more questions,
If I had known I’d lose your face,
I’d have taken more pictures,
If I had known the little left,
I’d never have let you go,
If I had known what I know now,
Would it really be any different?
 
If I had Known is © Marie Curran

(Previously published Poems from Conflicted Hearts, An Anthology 2014)

To date, more than 70 of Marie Hanna Curran’s poems have been published in journals, magazines and anthologies including Juxtaprose Magazine, ROPES 2015, Literature Today (Volume 2), Scarlet Leaf Review, and her own collection Observant Observings which was published in 2014 (Tayen Lane Publishing). Journalistic pieces featuring Marie Hanna’s varying viewpoints have appeared in newsprint and her regular column can be read in the magazine Athenry News and Views.
 
 
For more see www.mariehcurran.com
 

‘Haft Seen’ by Shakila Azizzada 
 
If it weren’t for the clouds,
I could
pick the stars
one by one
from this brief sky,
hang them
in your ever ruffled hair
and hear
you saying:
 
‘I’m like a silk rug –
the older it gets,
the lovelier it grows,
even if
two or three naughty kids
did pee on it.’
 
Am I finally here?
 
Then let me spread
the Haft Seen tablecloth
in the middle of Dam Platz.
 
Even if it rains,
The Unknown Soldier
and a flock of pigeons
will be my guests.
 
Haft Seen is © Shakila Azizzada.The literal translation of this poem was made by Zuzanna Olszewska.
The final translated version of the poem is by Mimi Khalvati.
 

Shakila Azizzada is a poet from Afghanistan who writes in Dari. Shakila Azizzada was born in Kabul in Afghanistan in 1964. During her middle school and university years in Kabul, she started writing stories and poems, many of which were published in magazines. Her poems are unusual in their frankness and delicacy, particularly in the way she approaches intimacy and female desire, subjects which are rarely addressed by women poets writing in Dari.
After studying Law at Kabul University, Shakila read Oriental Languages and Cultures at Utrecht University in The Netherlands, where she now lives. She regularly publishes tales, short stories, plays and poems. Her first collection of poems, Herinnering aan niets (Memories About Nothing), was published in Dutch and Dari and her second collection was published in 2012. Several of her plays have been both published and performed, including De geur van verlangen (The Scent of Desire). She frequently performs her poems at well-established forums in The Netherlands and abroad.

 

‘The Salt Escape’ by Jude Cowan Montague
 
‘Where are you going?’ I asked.
‘You never will find him again.’
She walked out onto the sodium plain
where sour gusts scour the crags.
 
She found a groove in the ground.
Her body fit inside the crack.
I lay down on top, pressed my face in her back
wrapping my feelers around
 
The snowlace winds whipped our flesh
to ribbons, though swaddled in fur.
I folded my legs close and breathed in her hair.
I dreamed we were eggs in our nest.
 
Stiffened to stone in the night
and humming to underground forces
we heard the dark whisper of runaway horses
shuddering into the light.
 
The Salt Escape is © Jude Cowan Montague

Jude Cowan Montague worked for Reuters Television Archive for ten years. Her album ‘The Leidenfrost Effect’ (Folkwit Records 2015) reimagines quirky stories from the Reuters Life! feed. She produces ‘The News Agents’ on Resonance 104.4 FM. Her most recent book is  The Originals (Hesterglock Press, 2017).


'It was I' by Dolonchampa Chakraborty

The girl who was burnt for dowry today
        It was I 
The girl foetus inside her body which was burnt too
	It was I 
The new-born girl who was abandoned in a trash bag 
        It was I  
They were nobody’s daughter 


The girl who was not paid her daily wage 
       It was I 
The girl who was paid less than her husband 
       It was I 
The girl who was not allowed to join a job
As her husband’s boss
	It was I 
They were nobody’s sister


The girl who was raped by colleagues 
	It was I 
The girl who was molested by an auto driver 
	It was I 
The girl who was pushed to bed by a filmmaker 
	It was I 
They were nobody’s lover 


The girl who wasn’t privileged by her right to education 
	It was I 
The girl who never got the privacy of a healthy sanitation 
	It was I 
The girl who went from one kitchen to the other 
	It was I 
They were nobody’s pride 


The girl who couldn’t practise her right to marry 
	It was I 
The girl who couldn’t practise her right to separate   
	It was I 
The girl who suffered a fruitless marriage 
	It was I 
They were nobody’s wife 


The girl who was sold by one
	It was I 
The girl who was bought by thousands 
	It was I 
The girl who made herself a sex-slave 
	It was I 
They were nobody’s friend 


The girl who sold her womb 
	It was I 
The girl who sold her baby 
	It was I 
The girl who made her baby an orphan 
	It was I 
They were nobody’s shelter 


The girl who was tortured in custody 
	It was I 
The girl who was beaten by a homemaker 
	It was I 
The girl who danced in a strip club 
	It was I 
They were nobody’s armour 


The girl who gulped her tears
	It was I 
The girl who couldn’t shed one 
	It was I 
The girl who got a slap on her tears
	It was I 
They were nobody’s precious  


The girl who slept on a footpath
	It was I 
The girl who slept in old-age home 
	It was I 
The girl who was kept hungry by her son 
	It was I 
They were nobody’s world 


Still, the girl who refuses to lose
	It is I 
The girl who refuses to drown or burn
	It is I 
The girl who fights back to victory
	It is I 
The girl who wants to float and fly 
	It is I 
The girl who is the lover of a gnome
	It is I 
The girl who forgets the obscure junctions 
	It is I 
The girl who pushes the darkness back into oblivion 
	It is I 
It is me who takes your hand and walks with you 
We make a destiny through the late night dew.
.
It was I is © Dolonchampa Chakraborty
Dolonchampa Chakraborty graduated in Calcutta and now studies Human Resources in Cornell University, Ithaca. She writes poetry in Bengali and has published two books of poetry. She is a freelance translator and editor working for the United Nations, Doctors Without Borders and several other organisations. Her poems have been published in prestigious Indian Literature, a bi-monthly journal by the Sahitya Akademi of India among others. She has been a panelist in the Samanvay Lit Fest. For two years, she has edited The Nilgiri Wagon, a literary journal that focuses on translating literature of Indian and other languages into English. She is passionate about languages. Currently, she is learning Kashmiri and leading a translation project of Syrian Poetry into Bengali.
Image detail from ‘Making Den of Sibyl Wren’ by Salma Ahmad Caller
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