Remember this? You were at school and the majority of the writers on the English Lit syllabus were old (or, most probably, deceased) males. The only women were…I don’t know, Harper Lee? Elizabeth Barrett Browning?
If you were a young girl who aspired to write you were hardly convinced that it could really happen. Not for you, anyway. There were women writing here but they were hidden away in towers, or something. Probably Scrabo.
Smart, funny women – think Carla Lane and Kay Mellor – did write for TV; they weren’t from NI but they would have to do. Then Colin Bateman, someone else living in Bangor, found success as a writer, and a few years later another local writer: Sharon Owens published The Tea House on Mulberry Street and things suddenly seemed possible.
So you wrote, but you saw that Northern Irish authors, and in particular female ones, were more or less routinely left out of Irish writing anthologies. And even on your doorstep, and in some local literary circles, local writing was overlooked. You didn’t quite get why, though you didn’t think any of this was intentional. Maybe we can’t all get away from what we are taught in class. A woman writer from the North? I mean, what would that even look like? (Click here for ALL the answers.)
Yet, great news: in 2015 you publish your debut novel, The Bones of It, with Liberties Press: a Dublin-based publisher that could never be accused of overlooking female writers from the north. It’s not all doom and gloom.
But last year a we’re-sick-of-this-exclusion-shit feeling emerged. The marvellous and tireless author Jane Talbot decided to do something about it. Jane formed Women Aloud which last year hosted events all over the province, and abroad, to tie in with International Women’s Day. (Check out the website and get involved!)
In 2016 there were approximately 100 writers taking part. This year there are 200!
Aspiring writers of all ages take heart!
On Wednesday 8 March at 2.30pm I’ll be reading at Bangor Library with Liz Weir, Stephanie Conn, Moyra Donaldson, Lesley Allen, Jane Coyle, Rebecca Reid and E V Greig.
And on Saturday 11 March at the Irish Writers Centre, Dublin, I’ll be chairing a panel about balancing caring responsibilities and writing, and chatting with Kerry Buchanan, Réaltán Ní Leannáin and Catherine Tinley. THEN we’ll be taking part in a readathon with…wait for it…:
Yvonne Boyle, Anne McMaster, Julie Comiskey, Ellie Rose McKee, Maura Johnston, Paula Matthews, Claire Savage, Alex Catherwood, Tara West, Anne Doughty, Hilary McCollum, Lara Sunday, Emma Heatherington, Wilma Kenny, D.J. McCune, R.B. Kelly, Clodagh Brennan Harvey, Eimear O’Callaghan, Angeline King, Emma Mckervey, Trish Bennett, Sheena Wilkinson, Belinda Bennetts, Martelle McPartland, Freya McClements, Elizabeth McGeown, Lesley Allen, Orla McAlinden, Vicky McFarland, Annemarie Mullan, Csilla Toldy, Dianne Ascroft, Felicity Mccall, Helen Hastings, Louise Kennedy and Olive Broderick.
Yep, I think this means the women are finally getting loud!
#IWD2017 #WomenAloudNI #ReadWomen #WomenXBorders #readlocal