Poems

Julie is not only a Member of the European Parliament but she is also a poet, playwright, theatre-worker and cultural activist, and uses arts processes as a tool for community empowerment with diverse groups all around the world.  Julie works within an artists’ collective that was established in 1986 and continues to this day, providing creative services to education, health and social care sectors. In 2010, after completing her Masters in Education and International Development Julie undertook a 3 month volunteer placement in Northern Brazil, working for ABRA, the national art educators’ network.  At the age of 56, Julie decided that not enough had changed in her lifetime.  Following the appalling violence against women in India that made headline news in 2012, Julie joined a group of women in her local area who she had not met before and together they organised a series of public events for One Billion Rising in February 2103.  The group is committed to on-going activism on several levels and are working with the local Police & Crime Commissioner as well as schools and universities to address the root causes of gender based violence through a whole-community approach.  

Julie has shared two of her poems below. 'Gathering' is about women's activism and was written for One Billion Rising after the death of Jyoti Del Singh the Indian student who died of her injuries following a gang rape on a bus in Delhi.  She is an inspirational figure to Julie. 'Orders Please' is about women breaking through the glass ceiling and challenging the male-dominated culture in leadership.

 

Gathering

We are gathering in parks and on street corners

We’re gathering like flocks of birds

We’re balancing on invisible wires

Strung between cities of the world

We’re ready to take flight

To encircle the globe with song

We will make patterns in the sky

Journey in V shapes

We tweet our co-ordinates

Ruffle our feathers

And stretch our wings

We will not be ringed or clipped

Or otherwise caged or contained

We will not be sold for entertainment value

Or feather our nests

In the unregulated markets of failure

We are gathering in the new dawn

Of a lost civilisation

We are gathering at the end of days

When everyone else has given up

Gone home to bed

We are gathering in snatched moments

With our babies on our backs

We are gathering, answering the call

From afar, hearing the cries

Of those under the iron rod

Beaten and torn and left for dead

We are gathering

We are singing

We are wearing red plumage

 

Orders Please

If I was starting out now

I would not wait for permission

To join the human race

On an equal footing

Nor look for that elusive invitation

Asking me to take my rightful place

At the table where everyone can eat their fill

I would enter the men’s room

Through the glass ceiling

Abseiling from above

In an aerial display of breath-taking beauty

Wearing my favourite high-heeled shoes and

Dressed to kill with compassion

I would not mind my manners

Or pick at my food with ladylike grace

I would upset the apple-cart

With my bruised fruitfulness

I would speak out of turn

Precisely because I have a voice

I would laugh and make jokes

At men’s foibles and folly

Chastise them like children

For their war-mongering chants

I would make them clear the table

Of their devastating debris

Wash their dirty dishes

And hang out their own laundry

For all the world to see

That underneath the suits and boots

They wear soiled underwear

And socks with holes

I would teach them to mend and darn

To knit comfort blankets

And sew seams of solidarity

To learn embroidery

And other gentle arts

So that they might set the table

For us, with a cloth of flowers

And wait as patiently as we have waited

Orders please?

 

 

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