Poem: Strictly Sexual by Meredith Debonnaire

This one has swear words! And use of the word “fag”! And it’s a bit old! But generally alright I think! This putting poems up thing is worrying… For best experience, read this one out loud in an increasingly angry voice.

My relationship with politics is strictly sexual because politics insists on getting in my bed/My relationship with politics is purely personal though politics will not admit to half the things that it has said/Politics is not a healthy bedfellow/Politics is not a brilliant fuck/But my relationship with politics is sexual, because politics won’t leave my life even though we’ve broken up/

Politics is my dirty little secret and I grind my teeth when it grandstands against itself/Politics insists that it can shake hands with clenched fists/Politics pretends it’s sitting on a shelf/Politics I don’t mind that you’re into bondage/Though I wish that you would wait for my consent/I enjoy a bit of submission but you don’t have my permission to make converting me a mission/On making me heteronormal you seem hellbent/

Don’t tell me not to be emotionally entangled/’Cause you bribe me with one hand and with the other hand you strangled/All the opposition/It’s an indecent proposition/To use my body as a moral battleground/

We may be fucking, politics, but you do not own my cunt/And it’s obscene of you to think that you can take just what you want/No I won’t give up my career though you’ve made it completely clear that empowered women are not welcomed here/

My relationship with politics is sexual/Because politics has politicised my sex/Your laws creep into my bed/Your attitudes pollute my head/Oh politics I think you’d rather I was dead/Politics I’d love to see you naked/Politics I’d love to see you pure/But so long as I’m bisexual and we’re keeping this contextual then all you’ve got is a dark allure/

My relationship with politics is strictly sexual/Oh yes politics remains my dirty shag/Politics would like to keep/Our shenanigans a secret/Just in case anyone calls politics a fag/Politics you are a fickle lover/You’ll say anything to obtain my vote/But all your promises crumble and your fingers fumble/As you hold onto your power and you gloat/Politics it seems we’re tied together/So let me make sure that this is understood/Our relationship is rotten and you seem to have forgotten/That I would gladly leave you if I could//

¬†Thoughts? Feedback? Slightly unrelated musings? Do let me know ūüôā
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Tales From Tantamount: February of the Year of the Sad Plastic Bag, part two

A slightly haphazard record of the town of Tantamount, mainly made of things that we found lying around. Not very curated, unfortunately…. And slightly shorter than usual, but February is a short month.

Proverb of the day: If at first you don’t succeed, run away and join the circus. Found in an essay about Leyla Tuthnallheaghstonvalethrumleybum, who was widely acknowledged to be the best Unbearded Lady in the Trimley circus. Tantamount District Council has recently repealed the 1906 Morality Act, meaning that circuses, suspicious-looking cows, and lawyers will once again be allowed within the (figurative) walls of Tantamount, and will no longer be chased away by slingshot-wielding youth.
To complain about this decision *cough cough we are looking at YOU Town Council*, please go to the Dumpsy Tump and yell loudly. It is possible that someone who cares will overhear.
Tantamount District Council


Polite Notice

You look stupid in that hat. Yes, you.

Weather report: an incandescent blue, almost limpid in its reflective qualities, which caused a confusing horizon. Several people vanished into it, never to return…

Police Notice

Dewdrop the goat, popular member of the Town Council, has gone missing. She was last seen two days ago chewing on a washing line in Mrs. Preet’s living room, number 37, Lower Edda Way. If anyone has seen Dewdrop, please let us know. She is the only sensible member of the Town Council.
xxxxx 802221



Starting on March 1st (not counting Leap Day)

Explore the Bounties of Nature with Rashid, who will take you on an exploration of Tantamount’s ever changing landscape, noting edible plants and discussing herblore. Rashid has been foraging for over a decade in Tantamount, and is not yet dead. In these uncertain economic times, foraging is a good skill to have.
T40 for the full day, price includes use of foraging equipment (nets, hooks, trowels, sunglasses, blessings and whistles). Please dress appropriately for the weather and bring your own breathing apparatus. Rashid also runs urban foraging courses – see his website for full details and bookings. http://www.freshfoodlover.tan

Weather Report: The weather today was poetry. Whether or not this is a good thing is debatable, but only in iambic pentameter and/or rhyming stream-of-consciousness.

Beware the Severn Bore!

Due to repeated misspellings, a sounder of wild boar ran through the town this morning, closely followed by a spectacular surge of water  that caused a lot of property damage, and a lot of boring surfers. The surfers have been handed over to the Carrion, as technically they are tourists who failed to complete the orientation classes. The remaining wild boar are now engaged in a pitched territorial battle with the maelids, ranging across Hope Park, Junkie Park, and Valevalleyinclineditch Park. Members of the public are advised to stay away from the public parks until the matter is resolved, and to only place bets with licenced vendors.
Thanks, Tantamount District Council.


Rave party under the Wapley Quarry – enter through the chimney. Bring glowsticks, torches, climbing equipment and sacrificial offerings in case we wake up the eldritch terror. PARTY ALL NIGHT! FEB 28TH

This is an illegal event – if you die, nobody cares! Tantamount District Council do not condone disturbing the cave systems or the Eldritch Terror.

Found: A box of childhood dreams, slightly faded. Cannot return – have used in a rebirthing ritual. Happy to offer compensation if claimed. Contact Ali xxxxx 777 814
Found: One zimmerframe possessed by the spirit of a restless duck-demon. Call Anita xxxxx 424178
Lost: Familiar, pine marten. Answers to the name Eve. Last seen on Tuesday during an aura cleansing ritual. Call Sigurd xxxxx 873335
For Sale: Books, several hundred, slightly cursed. T15 for the lot. Sammie xxxxx666509

Tantamount will return in possibly March. Until then, consider supplying the author with drinks.

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Book review: Brother’s Ruin by Emma Newman

brother's ruin by emma newman

Charlotte guided her brother to the right position on the pavement, ignoring the glares from other Londoners as they stopped the flow of people hurrying about their business.

I have just read this little book, and it was a delight. Very much the beginning of something (it’s okay, there are more books!), yet compelling in its own right.¬†Brother’s Ruin is set in a Victorian London with magic, which seems to be the theme of several books I’ve bought recently. It is a well imagined world, with just the right amount of nitty-gritty detail.

The story follows Charlotte, or Charlie as she is nicknamed, a young woman of middling class with several secrets and a fiance whom I personally thought was a bit useless. The question is, can she actually keep any of her secrets secret?

There were lots of things that Brother’s Ruin¬†did that were fun. I liked how industrial the magical colleges sounded, and the fact that the industrial revolution is effectively being powered by magic. I¬†loved the trope inversion of Charlie’s brother being the one with non-specific ill health. Charlie herself was a loveable character. There was always this sense of a stubborn, naturally hotheaded person struggling in a system where she can’t be those things. It’s a fantastic read, and I’m looking forward to the second in the series.

Rating: read this book, dismantle the patriarchy!

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Book review: Who Fears Death by Nnedi Okorafor

Who Fears Death by Nnedi okorafor image contains a desert and a black woman standing with her back to us, sprouting vulture wings.

My life fell apart when I was sixteen.

Phew! This book was like a good kick in the teeth, stress on the¬†good. I feel ill-equipped to review it – so much of this book falls so far outside my knowledge base, and although it is a post-apocalyptic fantasy, I still feel like there are going to be nuances that I have missed because of lack of real-world knowledge. So, I am going to do my best, but if I make some horrible mistake please let me know. Please also note trigger warning for rape – it’s a pretty big theme in this book so you may just want to completely skip the whole thing if that’s going to be hard, or at least proceed with caution.

Who Fears Death is an epic, if not in length then in structure. It covers years Рan entire lifetime (at least). There is a prophecy and a quest and a great evil to be overcome, but these things are introduced slowly, and the main themes are personal. Onyesonwu is  a child of rape in a post-apocalyptic Africa. She is also Eshu; a magical shapeshifter (among other things). She has to fight stubbornly to be taught, because nobody wants to teach a woman. As a visually recognisable child of rape, she has to struggle for many things, including basic acceptance. And she is angry, with many and reasonable causes. There is a lot of visceral anger in this book; about slavery and genocide and fighting for survival. There is also hope. And love. And humour. And wonder. All of which are essential, because it would be almost impossible to read without those. Nnedi Okorafor has achieved an incredible balancing act here, pulling no punches with the pain of the story she is telling, and being similarly straightforward about the joys that her characters manage to find.

Onyesonwu’s story is, primarily, about justice. All kinds of justice. I’m trying not to spoil the plot here, but the amount that Nnedi Okorafor manages to cover in 419 pages is impressive. And her characters are sinewy and real and seem to breathe, her writing is clear and incredible, and the world she has built is a brilliant and fantastic thing. And damnit, I am so here for angry women hunting down the people who hurt them. I am here for that unmitigated and unreasonable fury, for the fight for ownership of one’s own body. I am here for non-European worlds and magic systems. I mentioned when I reviewed¬†Book of Phoenix that reading it made me think about the things we are willing to be complicit in as long as we don’t have to look at them:¬†Who Fears Death did that all over again. It’s a scorching, incredible book that makes me feel certain that¬†I am not doing enough. And it looks fearlessly at the nitty-gritty reality of structural patterns impacting on individual lives and bodies. It’s also a compelling story, it’s just that I’m a little preoccupied with the rage…

Rating: read this book -remember that hope is a dangerous thing…

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Book Review: Provenance by Ann Leckie

Provenance Ann Leckie

“There were unexpected difficulties,” said the dark grey blur.

I have briefly mentioned the Imperial Radch trilogy before, in a slightly incoherent, oh-my-goddess-I-love-this-so-much way. In order to for this book to make any sense, you need to have read those three books (Ancillary Justice, Ancillary Sword, Ancillary Mercy) first. They are very very good, so off you go and read them. I’ll wait.

Done? Okay, on to the review. Provenance is set in the same world as the Imperial Radch trilogy, but outside the Radch Empire and with a new point-of-view character. It is set shortly after the events of Ancillary Mercy, although it is not a direct sequel. Ingray Aughskold is a very different person from Breq/Justice of Toren One Esk. She is entirely human, for a start, and she comes from one of the many civilisations living outside the Radch Empire (the Radch do not make for good neighbours). She is young, she is a bit inexperienced, and she is desperate. Or at least, she feels that way.

Ingray is in many ways a very privileged young woman, fostered by a prominent family on Hwae. Her family is also rather cutthroat, and when we meet her Ingray has just sunk all of her money into a mad scheme designed to set her above her fosterbrother and secure her place in the household. Safe to say, it does not go as planned at all. Events spiral out of her control, there are other agendas at work, and by the end of the book her original aims are almost forgotten. It is fantastic.

I love the things that Ann Leckie does with worldbuilding, especially in the way that she creates social and cultural norms and then puts them next to another culture with different ones. Hwae, for example, has a three-gender system, with children considered agender. People declare their gender when they become adults, and take on an adult name. She has done this after writing an entire trilogy with a culturally Radchaai point of view character, who thought of everyone as ‘she’ because the Radchaai only have one gender. There are people from a different system (the name escapes me), who cannot speak to family members or even acknowledge their existence. There are aliens, there are humans from different places with very different ideas about how things should work, and there are humans who are legally considered aliens. It is also great that a lot of her spacefaring cultures feel distinctly non-European, and are mostly not white.

Provenance is big and fun and complicated. It is about where people are from, and how much that matters. It’s about the stories that people tell about themselves; the personal ones and the historical ones, and what happens when one person or group’s stories are told louder than others, or when those stories turn out to be not entirely true. It is about Ingray Aughskold figuring out that she doesn’t need to be anyone except herself, and in the background huge things are happening as the Presger and the Geck and the Rrrrr come to meet and discuss whether or not AI can be part of the non-interference treaty.

I strongly recommend¬†Provenance, as well as the Imperial Radch trilogy. Ann Leckie’s world is a big exciting place with lots to say about personhood and Empire and society, and she says it well in the form of compelling stories.

Rating: read this book; question everything…

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Poem: Reasons I am still Angry (Women’s Suffrage Centenary) by Meredith Debonnaire

A very quick list-poem, written just this morning. It is rough!

  • Because 100 years is not a very long time.
  • Because of the pay gap.
  • Because of sexual harassment .
  • Because of that man who followed me home and stood outside my door and waited and waited and waited and I had never seen him before but it was my home and I was scared.
  • Because of no pockets on clothes.
  • Because of paying more for having no pockets on clothes.
  • Because holding hands with any of my girlfriends has always been an exercise in risk assessment.
  • Because period poverty.
  • Because statistically the person most likely to assault me is a man that I know and trust and am familiar with.
  • Because of Manic Pixie Dream Girls.
  • Because I am tired.
  • Because I do not want to do the damn washing up, or the sweeping, or the laundry.
  • Because of emotional labour.
  • Because of cuts to Refuges.
  • Because you can‚Äôt vote if you are homeless, or in prison, or if registering your address would put you in danger.
  • Because if you are a student moving between two places it is not easy to vote.
  • Because the voting system is broken and unfair.
  • Because naked women advertising kitchenware is normal.
  • Because I am a bitter angry person with so much to be angry about.
  • Because I am not very good at hope.
  • Because I live in fear of having my body invaded.
  • Because my body is already invaded.
  • Because we do not have a 100% reliable contraceptive, and abortion is still technically illegal.
  • Because strangers think it is ok to tell me how they think I should look.
  • Because politics is still playing out violently on bodies.
  • Because the first thing that most people will do when they see me is try to figure out if I am a man or a woman, and if they can‚Äôt tell easily I can expect at the very least pointed jokes.
  • Because of shaving armpits.
  • Because public spaces are not safe.
  • Because I am 26 and I get asked about my biological clock.
  • Because of jiggle physics.
  • Because I must be nice.
  • Because if I wrote this entire list out it would be three times the length of my body.
  • Because¬†
  • Because
  • Because…

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Poem: Stars by Meredith Debonnaire

The thing is, I have written poetry for years and years, and mostly it just sits on my harddrive gathering metaphorical dust. I never send it anywhere or read it to anyone. So I decided the blog was as good a place as any for it. This one is maybe five years old, but it seemed really relevant. Maybe I’ll share some new poetry with you sometime…

Because what could have been done
lay already in scattered dreams;
Hope-shrapnel tearing into us.
Because reams of fear paralysed us,
and we knew not whether it was power or powerlessness
that we feared.
Because terrible freedom roared with its dying voice,
We hid.
Buried in debris disguised as civilisation,
clogging our souls with chewing gum,
with television and radiation
and eroticised fantasies of microwaves,
new tables and smooth-sided mobile phones.
Instead of communities,
an empty kind of sex appeal.
It’s a deal that we’re born into;
A false idol to worship.
That gorgeous monster cripples us.
Because we trust the voices that tell us
we cannot survive without greed.
Because we were terrified to think ourselves
and the blinders were just thick enough;
The screaming light of Icarus,
or whatever celebrity,
more important.
Our concrete, tarmac and breezeblock denials
of our transitory nature
scarring the land.
Disconnected, we banned feeling.
So now, when our papier m√Ęch√©
castle of cards world shakes,
and people tumble into the abyss
clutching ironing boards, clinging onto computers,
desperately driving cars in the quixotic attempt
to escape themselves.
We remember.
that this is not the first time we have fallen.
Because what we could have done
lies already broken
we must dream bigger dreams.
Because we need more than a token symbol
and a flat-packed duvet.
Because steel beams and brick walls and glass three inches thick
cannot imprison a mind.
Because when our cities have collapsed
delusions shattered
we will find that we are left without maps.
That we are left with the sky and the land;
Alone or with gods
whatever dreams and freedoms that we dare.
With the stars, with the earth on our hands.
With love, with fear, with air.

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