Desiree Writes

Desiree talks to Afua Hirsch on Race and belonging, 18th October

Desiree talks to Afua Hirsch on Race and belonging, 18th October

  In collaboration with Our Mel, Festival of Debate, BAME Staff Network – The University of Sheffield and Sheffield Students’ Union as part of MelaninFest – Sheffield’s Black History Month Festival. Join Afua Hirsch for a discussion on her Sunday Times Bestseller, Brit(ish). Brit(ish) is about a search for identity. It is about the everyday racism that plagues British society. It is about our awkward, troubled relationship with our history. It is about why liberal attempts to be ‘colour-blind’ have caused more problems than they have solved. It is about why we continue to avoid talking about race. In this personal and provocative investigation, Afua Hirsch explores a very British crisis of identity. We are a nation in denial about our past and our present. We believe we are the nation of abolition, but forget we are the nation of slavery. We are convinced that fairness is one of our values, but that immigration is one of our problems. Brit(ish) is the story of how and why this came to be, and an urgent call for change. This event will be chaired by Desiree Reynolds – journalist, author and a trustee of The Racial Justice Network. This event will take place in Lecture Theatre 4 in The Diamond at The University of Sheffield. Tickets: Free...

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Talk About Change Writing as Resistance Anthology

Talk About Change Writing as Resistance Anthology

Very proud to announce Writing As Resistance Anthology available now from http://goo.gl/dquwrf

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Exposed magazine: Advice To New Students

Exposed magazine: Advice To New Students

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Writing As Resistance

Writing As Resistance

      Festival of the Mind “In a time when events seem ever and ever out of our control, writing is resistance”. –Désirée Reynolds This summer, Our Mel’s founder, Annalisa Toccara has been collaborating with 500 Reformations’ director Iona Hine & novelist and creative writer Désirée Reynolds to do some collective thinking about the power of language. Linked also with the Linguistic DNA project (linguisticdna.org), this work is funded by the University of Sheffield’s Festival of the Mind and will culminate in a spoken-word performance in the Festival’s Spiegeltent September 23rd.   The first 4 themed workshops cover Diversity, Feminisms, Immigrant and Race and then we’ll be looking at narrative craft, Performance, silencing the self critic and creating counter...

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Encounters with Masculinity

Encounters with Masculinity

Encounters with Masculinity   He talked a lot. His voice was booming and all that anyone could hear. It was loud and the other people in the coffee shop struggled to hear each other. They moved closer, so their bodies could physically block out the noise. His voice was insistent and demanding and it pushed through the bodies and annoyance, the coffee machine, the babies crying. On it went. It was starting to feel like hits over the head and punches to the stomach. He kept going, the women with him beaten into nodding and rolling their eyes at each other. One mouthed an apology to the other one. At a conference on masculinity the man next to me says, “I’ve been sexually harassed too”. The rest of the table turn and look at him and I look at him. “But why the word toxic?” says another. “Eh?” “Why toxic? Why not just masculinities? Why have the word toxic involved?” “Because that’s why we’re here. That’s the topic we’re talking about…” “I think this is where you’re going wrong…” “I’m not going wrong”. “If you didn’t use that word then more men would listen to you”. “It’s not just a word, it’s a theory of masculinity that identifies…” “I just don’t see the point of using it…” “Toxic masculinity causes so much harm that…” “But harmful behaviour is harmful, I don’t see why…” I’ve drifted by this point, wondering what I’m doing here, what the point of this all this is. The women at the table inwardly cave. The conversation hadn’t even started yet. “My problem with the word toxic is…” And his voice arrived, uninvited, purposeful, through the orders for coffee and cake. It was Brexit or women or refugees or pensions or immigrants or children these days or the government or…He had so much to say. I sat trying to reflect on the silences. And on the silences, that are even quieter than that. Gaps where silence should be. At the beginning of the conference the ‘code’ was delivered. But the code was just words declaring safe spaces without the methods of protecting those spaces and really it was about safe male space, which meant license to forget that the power to control the space is also power to silence and the power to harm. “Women commit as much domestic violence as men”. “No, they don’t”. “Yes, they do”. “No, they don’t”. “Yes, they do”. Later, I found out that this man had recently come out of an abusive relationship. “Yes, they do”. “But the figures show”. “You’re being abusive”, he said from the audience. He meant it. He was feeling abused by my presence. I don’t remember when it happened, that your own experience becomes the facts of everything. I looked at the women in the audience and felt that I’d let them down. As harm spewed out. As I was mentally and emotionally doing the ‘abusive math’ akin to the ‘you’re a racist math’ and a fellow panellist demanded that I tell him who he is, as he listed his oppressions.  I honestly don’t know when listing oppressions, real or imagined became evidence of oppressions. I feel very stupid and lonely. The sun is shining. A young poet on the panel speaks up, disagrees with the older men and gives the women hope and I hope that the weight of that doesn’t change him or tire him or burst him into tiny bits of glass. I had to take a good look at the men in my life, abusive lovers, absent fathers, drunk uncles, fragile...

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New Flash Fiction

Food   But the yearning never goes away. It lives bright and brittle in the dark places of your heart and the pulsating places between your legs. The breathing next to you is shallow and desperate. You turn and look at the head that you want to touch. But an invisible wall has been put there to stop this kind of touching. You snake a hand out and stop, looking at your fingers and your wrist and the arm you can hardly hold straight. Your fatness is the barrier, your shame the key. Maybe he’s right, something is wrong with your longing, something is wrong with your being, this is the best way to live, no, no one has a right to it, they have to earn it, it’s ok, things will get better tomorrow and you feel your power, ever so slowly, drip into the empty space of his words. Something is wrong with you. You don’t deserve to come or be touched or held or loved. You havn’t earnt it. “We can only do it if I’m happy”. “Ok”. Years spent on working at this, with a clean house, with jokes and favourite dinners and nods of agreement at everything and silent listening. “I wish that I could carry you around, I want to lift you up, I want us to do it against a wall”. But he’s smaller than you and all you can really hear is what you’re not. “We can only do it if I know that the kids are gonna be alright, you know, I need to know this, that they’ll be ok, that everything will alright for them”. “Oh, ok”. Could you be a better mother, for him? Could you guarantee their future, for him? But the things that are out of your control seem to mock you. But you remember him in your mouth, you remember with shame the taste and smell of urine, the stray hairs and fluff. You eat anyway. Who knows when you’ll be doing this again? “Haven’t you had enough?” The questions about your plate makes you wince and you use your tooth brush to help you throw up. You stop eating in front of him and stop eating in public and stop eating when anyone is looking. You hide biscuits and chocolate in your knicker draw, next to the tiny pink vibrator. Sometimes you throw them away and then buy them back again. He doesn’t hear the wrappers at night. Sometimes you pretend you need something and you go upstairs into your room and you have a piece of chocolate, too quickly, almost choking in case he should come in. Then you go to the bathroom and rinse out your mouth. Like when you used to smoke. He complains he can’t see your narni when you walk around because your belly hangs over it, the way he averts his eyes and looks a little like he’s going to be sick when you came out of the shower and when you’re touching and kissing and then the sudden stop, because he just can’t, it really is all your problem.  You have to always approach him, you cajole, joke, tease, talk him into, beg him into bed. You finally give up, after years and sink into the routine of not and wait for him to want you. But it never happened and he seems happier now that you’re not asking. Happier, more focused, works hard, laughes more, took his life into his own hands and left you holding what was left of yours and your dry vagina.  ...

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