In the Media: 22nd March 2015

In the media is a weekly round-up of features written by, about or containing female writers that have appeared during the previous week and I think are insightful, interesting and/or thought provoking. Linking to them is not necessarily a sign that I agree with everything that’s said but it’s definitely an indication that they’ve made me think. Also, just a note to make it clear that I’m using the term ‘media’ to include social media, so links to blog posts as well as traditional media are likely.

The big news this week is that Kath Viner became the first woman appointed to the role of editor-in-chief at The Guardian in its 194 year history. The first woman to edit a UK broadsheet and only the second EIC of The Guardian to have attended a (selective) state school.

Unfortunately, the other trend in articles this week have been about the abuse women have suffered from a variety of sources; Heidi Stevens wrote in the Chicago Tribune ‘Hate mail lesson: Uncombed hair threatens the natural order‘; Sarah Xerta wrote ‘The Brick Wall: The Intersection of Patriarchy, Privilege, Anger, and Language‘ on VIDA; Juliet Annan ‘is a Lazy Feminist‘ in publishing on the Penguin Blog; Sara Pascoe wrote ‘The hymen remains an evolutionary mystery – and the focus of the oppression of women’s sexuality‘ in The Guardian; Katie McDonough wrote ‘If you’re shocked by this Penn State frat’s nude photo ring, you’re not paying attention‘ on Salon; Jessie Burton took ‘Speakers’ Corner‘ on Hunger TV; Claire Byrne wrote, ‘One sordid, gross and offensive comment must have been thought up while he sat there scratching himself in his grey fading jocks. I wonder what makes people think it’s acceptable to make comments like that?‘ in the Irish Independent, and Ashley Judd wrote, ‘Forget Your Team: Your Online Violence Toward Girls and Women Is What Can Kiss My Ass‘ on Mic.

And there’s been a number of articles about race; Rebecca Carroll wrote ‘Calling out one racist doesn’t make white people any less complicit in supremacy‘ in The Guardian; Jia Tolentino wrote ‘How to Talk About Race With Your Starbucks Barista: A Guide‘ in Jezebel; Maya Goodfellow wrote, ‘Climate change is easier to ignore because right now it’s people of colour who suffer the most‘ on Media Diversified; Vulture interviewed Claudia Rankine on ‘Serena, Indian Wells, and Race‘ and KCRW’s Bookworm asked her about writing the racial ‘other’.

This week’s Harper Lee news: To Kill a Mockingbird was named #78 on The Guardian list of The 100 Best Novels; Casey N. Cep reported on ‘Harper Lee’s Abandoned True-Crime Novel‘ in The New Yorker, and Jonathon Sturgeon asked ‘Is It Time to Get Hopeful About Harper Lee?‘ on Flavorwire.

And prizes this week went to Louise O’Neill who won the inaugural YA Book Prize and Louise Erdrich won the Library of Congress Award.

The best of the rest articles/essays:

The interviews:

If you want some fiction/poetry to read:

Or some non-fiction:

The lists:

Bewitched – Kate Garrett

Bewitched is a Kindle single, published by the writing collective Pankhearst and is Sheffield Hallam Creative Writing (about to be) graduate Garrett’s first full length publication, although she’s had a number of poems and pieces of flash fiction in a variety of publications. You can read more about those and about Garrett on her website.

Bewitched is the tale of four people in their early twenties – three women and one man – who form a love square or maybe two intersecting love triangles. It’s told in a mixture of prose poems and flash fiction from a number of points of view.

We begin with a third person poem which tells us about Maddie, who always carries a copy of Moll Flanders, and her boyfriend, Dalton, ‘Heathcliff with a quiff’, moving out of London to somewhere further south which is ‘green and blue’. This brings them closer to two other people – Seren, Dalton’s ex-girlfriend, and Niamh, a woman who Maddie is about to meet.

It’s just the one room, stacked above a nightclub with other rooms; we’re matchsticks in our rectangular boxes. The view from the single small window is more windows, their curtains drawn, and the line of blue sky.

It isn’t long though before Maddie and Dalton begin to drift towards other people, although it’s clear their relationship’s far from over:

He think’s I’m done, given up.
I feel it in my gut, but no one
can put their heart down, leave

it for dead while it still beats
inside their chest.

The rest of the piece takes us through their transition, the voice moving between the three women, occasionally in third person, but mostly in first person, allowing us to see circumstances from every angle but Dalton’s. Dalton, who begins as the pivot on which these lives turn, is only allowed to be commented upon or occasionally have his speech reported by one of the women. As Maddie says, ‘He isn’t/the only sound that needs to be heard’.

I loved Bewitched. I’ve read it several times now and it stands up to repeated readings. It’s a pretty perfect rendition of what it feels like to be in that early-twenties transitional phase when you don’t know where you belong and how to find the place that will allow you to fit.


Thanks to Pankhearst for the review copy.