International Women's Day has been honoured around the world from the early 1900's. Its origins are steeped in a fight for women's rights to work, vote, and hold public office as well as ending all types of discrimination against them. Since then it has evolved to also place a focus on celebrating women and their achievements.
This International Women's Day we want to do just that. At Wordjar, I have been fortunate enough to have collaborated with some amazing writers who identify as women over the years. Today I celebrate them by taking you on a journey of literary exploration through some of the books that showcase the brilliance of the women we have published.
Another Point of View was on the first books that Wordjar released. Authored by the talented Kiri Gray, Another Point of View is a window into the experiences of people who you may pass by every day without giving them much consideration. Through her poems she takes up the perspective of a single mother, a homeless person, as well as a young woman considering an abortion. These poems convey a feeling of sorrow, however Kiri skilfully balances out the energy in this book with poems such as 'Sunrise in Agra'. In this poem, which serves as a reflection of her trip to India, Kiri transports readers to a land of "fine fabrics strewn across brown skin" and sounds that dance in your ears "like a beautiful birdsong, drowning out the noise pollution."
We see this capability to switch our perspectives surfacing time and time again in the work of another poet, Catherine Labiran. Her collection 'Ayisat', titled after the authors middle name, is a timeless book that continues to bring joy to readers almost a decade after it was first published. Catherine's debut poetry collection is simply magical. Exploring themes of love, identity, relationships, and heritage, her poetry translates from the stage to the page without losing any of its vibrancy. Poems like 'She Rose' tell us that a woman who the world would give "heels to stop our sprinting" whilst being told to wear aprons, can be independent and strong while still deserving to be subject to the love of a partner that will "carry our sweet taste on lips. Hands imprinted on the splendour of our hips. And his arms will orbit us just as the sun dances around our solar." because they are fearless, tearless, bold and worthy. Because you are worthy.
Fast-forward to 2017, when we released the 6th edition of our love poetry collection that had a them of 'Self love'. All 8 of the poems featured in My Love 6 were from women who would give us the gift of looking inside and acknowledging our self worth. Stephanie Itimi's 'voice' would reveal that "equipped with love and acceptance" she would realise that she "was always enough." In 'Where do the colours of the sunset go?', Aisha Mohammad would proclaim that the very colours of the rainbows, sunrises and sunsets take refuge beneath our "beautiful black skin" while the words of Linda Crate would show us that in the cracks of our imperfection "the light gets in" that causes us to truly shine and be beautiful. Through that admission of imperfection she grounds us in the reality that it is only when we drop our guard that we are able to be accepted for who we truly are.
Like her contemporaries listed above, Mina West harbours that unique ability to be magnetic through her vulnerability. Her upcoming debut poetry collection 'Whisper' is divided into three sections 'Whisper' 'Venting' and 'Chant'. The poems that she has carefully selected will take you on a journey of pain and healing that will remind you of how we can grow through trauma with faith.
I feel so blessed to have been able to work closely with all of these authors, as well as the numerous other women that we have published. I am a fan of their creativity and their work, and I hope that as their words touch you as they have me, you will support their work today and in the future.