These three poems were written by a group of self-identifying women who took part in a series of workshops called Exploring Women’s Power through Writing. These workshops were created to celebrate the production of hang in the Crucible Studio theatre and Internation Women’s Day.
The workshops were lead by Tchiyiwe Chihana, a Sheffield-based writer and activist, and explored themes of justice, choice, grief and vengeance.
The Hard Choices by Angela Warner
How odd and ironic it feels to be given choices!
At no other time in my life have choices, not real choices, been given as an option.
No choice in what I wanted to be.
No choice in who I wanted to be.
No choice in where I wanted to be.
No real choices at all.
But now you, who I don’t know or trust, are telling me to make a choice about someone’s death!
A ‘victim’ of a crime I may be, but a perpetrator too?
Do I not carry burden enough?
Making what I can of the life I have … trying to find peace ... then to carry the double burden of victim and perpetrator?
What choice is left if trying to find some peace is no longer a choice? Taken away by making the choice of how someone dies.
I didn’t choose to be a victim ... nor now a perpetrator!
You’ve given me the power to choose. But to have revenge and ‘justice’ makes me no better than you. You have made the choice to make me have this choice. I don’t have a choice!
You’re trying to wear me down. You’re trying to wear us all down.
You want us to carry the feelings so you don’t have to. You want us to carry the guilt so you don’t have to, and you want us to be blamed so you don’t have to.
Untitled by Anon
Being portrayed as mentally unbalanced.
Being vulnerable, having low self-trust can make it very easy for other people to control and manipulate.
If you don't have self-trust, every minute can be spent wondering if you are right or wrong?
If they are there to support you or hurt you?
It's a spiral into darkness. Depression. Paranoia.
The trust for every other person goes away.
In the end, there is only you and your destructive mind.
When you are in that place, people can suggest anything.
It can and will reinforce the thoughts.
Empower them because they aren't just in your own head but voiced by another.
On the other hand, not trusting the one who IS trying to help.
Mental Health isn't just placing people in a box, it's understanding every individual need.
That mental health is very personal and complex.
Problems won’t be solved by throwing pills at people.
But by listening, understanding and compassion.
These qualities are in all people if they chose to use them.
Please be kind always to yourself and others.
Tim by Gracie J. Roberts
May was different
6yrs in, leaving the church, I met the real Tim,
“I don’t like the dress – you look cheap”
I’m smiling for the camera thinking WTF
Had I mis-heard? No
Marriage is for life or so they say
Only when we died at 35
Where are my alarm bells!
“You don’t need a present, YOU HAVE ME!”
That was a glimpse of my future, right there,
November was freezing, November was agony,
Curled naked on the bathroom floor
4am, he steps over my body
“Too cold, too pissed . . . I need mi bed”
My first miscarriage was a lonely affair
June was hopeful, July bereft
For me devastation, for him relief
My second miscarriage. . . . it just was
“I’m off t’pub”
Now I can cry
Says he never wanted kid’s
He lied so I’d marry him
“Besides YOU CAN’T carry kids , YOU’RE ill!”
I ran from the soul searing, but didn’t get far
September an end & beginning
Redundant now & working together
I can’t escape his opinion
Now I am
“WHO’D AV YA”
October, He’s seething,
Cranked up & pissed
Screeching or slamming, take your pick
“HOW COULD YOU!!!”
Pregnant without permission
December’s big dipper
It’s twins, inside I’m over the moon
He’s in shock, tense, breath holding
“I’m sorry , there’s only one heartbeat”
Now I can’t breathe
“YOU couldn’t cope with 2 anyway!”
He’s breathing, but NOT yet relaxed
“HA! I SLAPPED YA”
April came with seizures & sirens
Unconscious & unaware. . . . he did what he did
So Groggy, universe please save my rainbow
The universe heard me, not him
“BUT I LOVE YOU”
My rainbow came in June, green eyed monster came too
Mummy mode melted away HIStory
I can withstand him to keep her safe
And I did for 20 more years
“What about MY NEEDS!”
What about them?
Flashbacks July, Counselling September
So scared to leave her with you
Caught you pinning her, growling
“ME, THE unpaid babysitter”
No, you the parent
March came with an ill wind
He was too much to bare
No choice but divorce
“Please, don’t leave me”
OK I’ll stay for rainbow, your last chance
November, was cold
Woke to feel you fumbling
Frozen, unable to breathe
“I wanted a cuddle but my body took over”
Trapped now, with nowhere to turn
“DO YOU LOVE ME?!!”
Was February ‘s question
No I don’t, was my reply
Then I woke, you were looking for petrol
“I’M GONNA BURN IT WITH YOU IN IT”
I locked you out, I haven’t slept since
But so glad you’re gone.