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Hallelujah for 50ft Women: Poems About Women's Relationship to Their Bodies Paperback – 23 Apr 2015
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Hallelujah for 50ft Women goes straight in as one of my favourite poetry anthologies. --Jade Craddock, Nudge
...jaw droppingly profound...If you are a woman, or someone who knows a woman, if you are ready to hear it told like it is, if you are open to the unusually wide range of writing styles, you will find many jewels embedded in this book, telling of the joys and sadness of having a woman's body. --Mary Jacob, New Welsh Review
In their performances and anthologies Raving Beauties have done a great service to women writers. --Guardian
About the Author
Raving Beauties are Sue Jones-Davies, Fan Viner and Dee Orr (and founder member Anna Carteret).
In the Pink, their first cabaret of songs and poetry opened in a pub, sold out at the Edinburgh Festival and featured on Channel 4's opening night in 1982. Make It Work was commissioned for Channel 4's second birthday. A third show about the relationship between mothers and daughters, Tea at the Ritz premiered at the Young Vic Studio.
The Women's Press invited them to edit collections of poetry inspired by the shows. This led to In the Pink (1983), No Holds Barred (1985), an introduction to the work of Polish poet Anna Swir, Fat Like the Sun (1986), and a collection of prose and poetry about relationship breakdown, Bust Up (1992). Two decades later they have re-emerged with Hallelujah for 50ft Women: poems about women's relationship to their bodies (Bloodaxe Books, 2015).
Raving Beauties have toured their shows in the UK, Ireland, Guernsey, Norway and Spain, and received British Council funding to visit Jamaica and Mexico. Exploring issues including work, motherhood, love, creativity, sex and violence, they have touched the lives of thousands of women.
Sue Jones-Davies - with a history as a singer and actor spanning many years - is probably best known as 'the Welsh tart' in Monty Python's Life of Brian. She was a member of the Bowles Brothers Band and the Welsh singing duo Cusan Tan. Sue now spends most of her time teaching yoga and as a forester in Wales.
Dee Orr is an actor, musician and singer whose career began in bands such as Hi Jinx. She has worked extensively in theatre and her many television appearances include Alan Bleasdale's GBH. Dee also spent several years as a tutor and healer at The College of Psychic Studies in London.
Fan Viner has acted, directed, written poetry and plays and taught in many different institutions including a prison, universities and a psychiatric hospital. Most recently she has received Arts Council awards for community multi-media performances and installations, a new initiative developed with the De La Warr Pavilion, Bexhill. She lives in Hastings.
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'If you are a woman, you are allowed/ to write about wombs, your relationship/ with your mother, your lover leaving, your/ lover leaving with your mother,' writes Caron Freeborn.
Here are poems shouting or whispering about wombs and other parts that you are not allowed to write about so you do. Poems by women caught up this lifelong and most intimate relationship with their strangely recaltricant, capricious, unreliable bodies. Bodies that change, surprise, admit, resist, give pleasure, bring pride or shame.,feel pain, give birth or don't: 'Here I am, a woman, not a body, in the snowlight outside the hospital'.
Here are bodies that run away from you, cut the harvest, are decorated: 'Look at their brooches/ set with jewels from the mid-afternoon:/ the fly, the ant the last drop/ of dew..' , are poisoned with life and drink or fall prey to the wanderings of a rogue cell: 'Has anyone ever told you/ that you have a beautiful mitral valve?'
The poems explore young love, failed love, self love and the battle for control: 'A little more discipline, More fruit, less fat, Will make me all I ever wanted'. Long-established poets such as Carol Anne Duffy, Sharon Olds, Selima Hill and Jackie Kay share pages with many brilliant, less well-known poets and some long dead: Some are extremely funny, some poignant, some erotic, some wounded. Some poets are grateful for their companion flesh, some have been betrayed or come to loathe it. 'On these winter nights, my bones feel brittle, and my knees are sore from praying.' The horror of hotel mirrors crop up more than once. Buy it. Smile. Squirm. Have fun.