In celebration of International Women's Day, Women Say Stuff brought together women from all backgrounds to share their life experiences. Headliners included Notts wordsmiths Alice Short and Georgina Wilding, alongside a passionate open mic of female poets, musicians and activists. We sent our Natalie Mills down to check out the DIY Poets’ mixed-audience event at Cafe Sobar to hear what women had to say.
With a dedication to "the woman who experienced racism at NTU yesterday" and Alice Short's opening number "Harvey Weinstein's a Prick", Women Say Stuff 3 was vital viewing. Despite a projection of a roaring fire on the wall, the subject matter never let you get too cosy.
The evening reflected the infinite moods of women, from uplifting songs with audience participation to moving stories of loss. Cafe Sobar hosted an eclectic crowd of families, friends and individuals – who couldn't help but bond over shared tables, rounds of tea and homemade cake.
Rapper and BBC Radio 6 star Alice Short kicked things off, vocalising the pent up anger of many. The mic became redundant as she protested against a world where “Donald Trump is a thing”. A variety of speakers followed her to describe similar struggles in their own unique way. They shared experiences of abusive relationships, being undermined or objectified, and the despair of post-natal mental illness. “Fuck fashion – it’s knowledge you should be drinkin’!” was a rallying battle cry.
As well as letting off steam, there was an equal amount of poetry expressing the joys of being a woman. About cooking for family, “the menopause throwing it all into doubt”, and smashing the glass ceiling. A DIY Poet even persuaded me to get on the open mic and my poem got a few laughs!
Just Jude's interlude was a particular highlight, featuring her kora (an African harp-lute) and stirring vocals from Amie Cherry. Georgina Wilding, the first Young Poet Laureate for Nottingham, closed the night with stories ranging from hilarious to heartbreaking. It was inspiring to see such a thriving poetry scene in our city and a local Notts woman rocking the Young Poet Laureate title.
Alongside performers, there were talks from Nottinghamshire Sexual Violence Support Services and POW; a charity supporting individuals involved in or affected by sex work. Women Say Stuff raised £228 for the two charities, who deal with rising waves of referrals after every news story.
In the spirit of #MeToo, the takeaway message was one of recognition, solidarity and hope. It takes a lot of bravery to stand up and read a poem, and even more so when it's about your gender.
For more information on DIY Poets, check out their website at www.diypoets.com. If you'd like to support the Nottinghamshire Sexual Violence Support Services or POW, visit their websites at www.nottssvss.org.uk and www.pow-advice.org.uk.