Wednesday, 2 September 2009

Women In Tune

I just returned from the WIT festival in beautiful Wales; my very muddy car looks slightly surreal on the urban streets, and my brain is re-adjusting to the presence of men. ‘No, Sandy, that is not a very masculine-looking dyke, it is actually a bloke,’ my partner tells me patiently.

Exciting, moist, inspiring, emotional, intimate, tender, raucous, solemn, silly, professional, homespun, playful . . . – what more could I have wanted from my bank holiday? Being blown away by the talent of a multitude of musical and artistic women both renowned and obscure, and having a chance to explore ourselves and our creativity, and above all to play in a nurturing and liberating, feminist atmosphere that is there for all women, but is exceptionally Sapphist-friendly.

There were so many poets this year, on main stage, open mic and fringe, and plenty of writing-themed workshops; I’m thinking of suggesting a spin-off “Lit WIT”. Best of all was when the wonderful Erica suggested we do some “spontaneous combustion” – find a space, improvise for the briefest of times between lunch and the afternoon workshops, and see what happens. How could we refuse? We didn’t have long, but Erica was prepared, with a pile of daily newspapers and an exercise inspired by Dadaism. We drew a grid on a random page, and using only words that were on the grid intersections, we constructed our pieces. An alternative exercise used only the letters from Women In Tune to construct the lines of a poem.

I’m always fascinated by the way constraints push us to be more creative with how we use words – the structure of a poem drives us to reach for new ways of expressing, and in this case, the scarcity of our words pushed us to search for deeper meaning. For some reason, I found myself with the letters page of the Daily Express, and writing with a pen from the North Yorkshire Police Department. It was bound to be surreal:

Time matters
These are just experiments;
Fizzy missions
And Pepsi-cola politicians
Feeding our suspicions.

Bogus claimants
And phoney applicants;
Threat to our system.
Where’s the choice?
Who’s the voice?
Luckily, time matters
These are just experiments.

Naturally, we went on to perform our pieces to the enjoyable bemusement of the WIT audience. . . So, welcome to Sapphist Writers my new-found WIT comrades and here is some of what the other group members produced:


All energy
Bats screaming
People play
Own upbringing
Mum gets daughter
Dads in massive pants
Crazy day
Amy, Sharon, Kelly
She ran in garden with the moss
Cool boy spoke most
And bit on football and flour?


The cast were pleased someone with a Welsh name dramatised the early radio hit and then started performing at the working men’s club, exactly. Very British!

People with long holidays coincided were drummed in otherwise it might have bombed.


The clear emissions of
Seasons settle
Earth levels vital
Ideological debate in
Cold glowing darkness
In body energy balls

Clear emissions
Earth levels vital

Flawed climate power
(Of) fossil carbon beliefs
The material machine
Restored: carousels
Incandescent light

Clear emissions
Earth levels vital

Washout creationist beliefs converted groups

Earth levels vital

In secular darkness
The ideological train skids
The cold pearl’s glow
Houses creation energy

Clear emissions
Earth levels vital


The Escape

Someone physically bound
Frustration within ourselves;
Cranky and repetitive work
Creates someone alone.
Confront their position,
The energy is in ourselves.


(An extension of the second exercise)

All night baptism session

Money and wine, wino mine
Emotions spoken after nine
Nouns mown to fit my line

Green tones untie turns and toes
My hazy vision shrinks and grows
Body’s whispers turn to bellows

Money and wine, wino mine
Emotions spoken after nine

Bottles rub out tones and tunes
No need now for our Sapphic runes
Whiskey mines my dizzy croons

Money and wine, wino mine
Emotions spoken after nine

Erica/jointly authored by group:

(From the letters w.o.m.e.n.i.n.t.u.n.e.)

To tune
In tune
In time

New . . . m_ew!

Neon time

In time
In tune
To tune

No men.

Wom . . . wom . . . wom

To tune
In tune
In time


  1. Need to check the spelling of Women in Tune - I can't see any "h" there - so how "whim" got in is beyond me! LOL! (Jet)

  2. lol, Jet...a bit of poetic licence ;)'s silent, so we bent the rules of inclusion!!

  3. That's great, because all of them must be very happy.