Please note that this post contains explicit language.


 

Rachel McCrum

Rachel McCrum has worked as a poet, performer and promoter in Edinburgh since 2012, arriving via Manchester, Belfast, New Zealand, Oxford and a small seaside town in Northern Ireland. She is Broad of Rally & Broad, winner of the 2012 Callum Mcdonald Award and the inaugural BBC Scotland Poet in Residence in 2015. She has performed and taught poetry in Greece, South Africa, Haiti, Montreal and around the UK. Her second pamphlet Do Not Alight Here Again was published in March 2015 by Stewed Rhubarb Press, and in August 2015, she wrote and performed her first solo show at the Edinburgh Fringe, as part of new spoken word collective SHIFT/. In 2016, she is CoastWord Writer In Residence, exploring ideas of freeing the voice, feminism and performance, in Dunbar, another small seaside town.

Jonathan Lamy

Jonathan Lamy is a multidisciplinary poet and performer from Montreal. He is also a poetry and performance art critic, currently postdoctoral fellow at Université Laval. He has published two collections of poetry at Editions du Noroit, as well as many articles about Quebecois and First Nations poetry. His practice as a performer combines participative reading, sound poetry, poetry-action and intervention in public spaces.


 

A note about where this poem came from

The coverage of the New Year attacks against women in Cologne and Stockholm; further reading about other incidents of mass sexual violence against women, for example, Tahir Square in 2013; the ‘corrective rapes’ of lesbians, particularly in South Africa; that these are not a phenomenon that happens only outside the UK and Northern Ireland (Dapper Laughs exists, for example); reading ‘Women Who Run With The Wolves’ by Clarissa Pinkola Estes and exploring feminine archetypes around the world; my own feelings as a muscular woman who often feels more akin to a bear than a bird, regardless of what a lot of poetry tells me; the need to free my own voice, to yell and howl and scream against an upbringing that tells me this is uncouth, ugly, excessive; learning about Inuit throat singing, that it is traditionally a female practice, a game, and delighting in how ‘unfeminine’ and ‘ugly’ it sounds, and the power that comes from that; my own absolute terror of groups of men, particularly in the streets, of mob think and the violence, the mindlessness, the egging-on that can come from that, my own physical helplessness against those situations, however much I like to think of myself as strong, my need to scream, stomp and rage against that, and my desire to see women able to scream, stomp and rage along with me.

With thanks to Jonathan Lamy, whose vocal support, trust and love enabled this piece to be written.


Listen to the live version, performed by Rachel with throat singing support from Jonathan.


The First Blast to Awaken Women Degenerate

 

‘I am assured that God has revealed to some in this our age, that it is more than a monster in nature that a woman shall reign and have empire above man.

And therefore, I say, that of necessity it is that this monstiferous empire of women (which amongst all enormities that this day do abound upon the face of the whole earth, is most detestable and damnable) be openly revealed and plainly declared to the world, to the end that some may repent and be saved.’

(The First Blast of the Trumpet Against the Monstruous Regiment of Women – John Knox, 1558)

 

 

The trumpet sounds.

All the monkeys are grooming themselves bald

in the zoos

 

Women slither out from gutters and under streetlamps

down from bedsits, and from behind garden fences

 

Foil sail unfolding irresistible as empty crisp packets

from pub table women

Women who sink a bottle of red and rage

with wine lips women

 

Fury unleashed women

in stamping, stomping, sweating

hordes of women

 

ranks amassing women.

 

Give me

gorilla women

and bear women

penguin women

and wolf hound women

blue whale women

and badger women

yeti, yak

and bison women

 

Give me

caribou women

and bone women

bite back

beefy

women

 

not quite bird women

not least the sparrow

crow

or wren

women

but

flamingo women

peacock women

eagle women

and pelican women

 

Give me unnnatural women

deranged women

moving

drumming

howling women

 

Give me mobs of women

chow down on misery women

seismic cunt women

bloody pushy women

like a 2am army’s march

through the veins women

 

Give me ruling women

and yelling women

 

Give me unsilent unwatchful women

Give me monstrous women

on the pavements of

 

Cologne women

London women

Tahir Square women

Belfast women

Stockholm women

Cape Town women

 

Before the second trumpet sounds.

Before the monkeys can groom themselves bare and repent

Before the streets can fall dark and silent and damned

Please

Give me my monstruous regiment

of women.

 


Text copyright Rachel McCrum 2016.