Recalling the practices of feminist groups in 1970s Italy the exhibition Relating Narratives invites women who write about women to read their works.
Admission Free (booking via eventbrite)
“The gift of the written story which connects thoughts and saves one from letting herself go is an exquisite image of what we have tried to explain, that is, than in women’s struggle, the symbolic revolution – the representation of oneself and of one’s fellow women in relation to the world – is fundamental and must come first”
- The Milan Women’s Bookstore Collective
Recalling the practices of feminist groups in 1970s Italy the exhibition Relating Narratives invites women who write about women to read their works. This will be followed by a conversation with feminist publishers Silver Press exploring the way in which women look to other women to construct an alternative register within which to situate them-selves and mediate their position in the world.
The poet Adrienne Rich describes women's need for writing by women: "she goes to poetry or fiction looking for her way of being in the world, since she too has been putting words and images together; she is looking eagerly for guides, maps, possibilities; and over and over in the "words' masculine persuasive force" of literature she comes up against something that negates everything she is about: she meets the image of Women in books written by men".
A key practice of Italian feminism was the reading and re-reading of women's writings in order to chart a geneology of women, where women could define themselves in relation to other women. Many of these feminist groups had emerged from the adult education courses provided first for factory workers and later for housewives. In these groups new friendships could flourish that were set apart from their domestic spheres: these groups gave them the freedom not to be defined in relation to their husbands, their children, but in relation to other women and their writing. This enabled the women to construct new frames of reference within which to define and situate their identities.
The need for an alternative to the image of Women as written in books by men, as described by poet Adrienne Rich, continues to be felt. These writers address that need.
Alice Albinia is an award-winning author of interlinked works of fiction and non-fiction. Empires of the Indus (2008) and Leela's Book (2011) explore the territory, histories and politics of South Asia. Her new project focuses on the archipelago identity of Britain. Her books have been translated into several languages, pirated into Sindhi, and have won and been listed for many prizes, such as the Somerset Maugham Award. She is the mother of two young daughters.
Sophie Collins grew up in Bergen, North Holland, and now lives in Edinburgh. small white monkeys, a text on self-expression, self-help and shame, was published by Book Works in 2017 as part of a commissioned residency at Glasgow Women’s Library. Her first poetry collection, Who Is Mary Sue?, was published by Faber & Faber in February 2018, when it was named the Poetry Book Society’s Spring Choice. She is currently translating a full-length poetry collection and a novel (provisionally titled, in English, The Opposite of a Person) from the Dutch of Lieke Marsman.
Emily Berry is a poet and editor living in London. She has published two books of poems with Faber & Faber, Dear Boy (2013) and Stranger, Baby(2017). She is the editor of The Poetry Review and a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.
Nell Dunn (born 9 June 1936) is an English playwright, screenwriter and author whose works have been adapted for television and film directed by Ken Loach. Her short stories, first published in The New Statesmen were brought together in Up The Junction (1963) and awarded the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize. This collection was a controversial success at the time for its vibrant, realistic and non-judgmental portrait of its working-class protagonists. It was adapted for television by Dunn (and Ken Loach) for The Wednesday Play series, directed by Ken Loach. A cinema film version was released in 1968. In her second book a collection of interviews, Talking to Women (1965), Dunn spoke to nine of her friends over a bottle of wine about sex, work, money, babies, freedom and love. Her first novel Poor Cow was made into a film starring Carol White and Terence Stamp, under Loach's direction. Her later books are Grandmothers (1991) and My Silver Shoes (1996). Dunn's play Steaming was produced in 1981 and a television film Every Breath You Take, was transmitted in 1987. She has also written Sisters, a film script commissioned by the BBC. She won the 1982 Susan Smith Blackburn Prize.
Silver Press is a new feminist publisher based in London. In 2017, Silver Press published The Debutante and Other Stories, the first collected edition of Leonora Carrington's short stories, and Your Silence Will Not Protect You, which brought Audre Lorde's essays and poems together in one volume for the first time. In 2018, they published a new edition of Nell Dunn's book of conversations from 1965, Talking to Women. Silver Press is Joanna Biggs, Sarah Shin and Alice Spawls.