Displaying items by tag: women's literary culture

Friday, 23 June 2017 13:45

16-18.6.2017 - Grrrl Con, Manchester!

Grrrl Con 2017

A big shout out to Jane Bradley, Claire Askew & Kerry Ryan - organisers of GrrrlCon 2017 - for inviting me to present a workshop on ‘Dealing With The Internal Critic’ as well as contribute to the ‘Paths to Publication’ panel!

And wow – such wonderful feedback from workshop participants:

“Have to say Rosie Garland has been the shining light of my Grrrl Con experience so far. Fab workshop!!”
“My first workshop was with on dealing with your inner critic, & was one of the best things I've ever been part of.”
“Worker Bees Manchester: Our new Whatsapp group name inspired by the amazing Rosie Garland is #fuckoffmavis”
“Magic atmosphere, easy, open and collaborative despite some tough subject matter. Cannot thank you enough, Rosie Garland”
“Really tough workshop but so good and so valid and needed”

Here’s to GrrrlCon 2018!
http://grrrlcon.com/

Published in News

Thank you to Diane Watt of the University of Surrey, for her interview about 'Vixen' - featured in the Women's Literary Culture blog.

You can read the blog here – or click on the link below.

Telling the truth and telling it slant: writing Vixen

Rosie Garland won the Mslexia Novel competition in 2012 and her debut novel The Palace of Curiosities was published in March 2013 by HarperCollins. Her second novel, Vixen, published in 2014, is set in the plague year of 1349. In this post, Rosie writes about writing a novel set in the medieval past.

******

I am fascinated by times when the world is on the cusp of massive change, specifically that moment before those changes take place. I view it rather like an indrawn breath, held and not released. Vixen is set during one such period of upheaval: 1349, the year the Black Death struck England. I wanted to capture that sense of a deadly force and its inexorable advance. In an isolated village deep in a forest in the south west of England, the arrival of a mysterious young woman – the Vixen – turns the lives of the villagers upside down. Amongst other things, the novel is about love found in unexpected places; the impossibility of escape if you won't accept you are in a prison; how people refuse to see what's right in front of them and the consequences of that refusal.

These are themes with personal resonance.

A very early memory is of my grandmother reading fairy stories. Magical elsewheres and elsewhens that transported me far away from childhood rural England. Which was, and is, a delightful place to be unless you are in any way different. This wasn't restricted to sexuality – anything that wasn't marriage and 2.4 children (preferably with one on its way by the age of 16) was regarded as deeply suspect. Suckled on the boundless possibilities of fairy tales, I grew up with a passion for medieval history, possibly because it too was elsewhere, other, and I yearned to get away. As a child, the Middle Ages was 'The Black Shield of Falworth'on Sunday afternoon TV. In glorious Technicolor Cinemascope, it boasted bleached-blonde damsels in crimson lipstick, knights in neatly-ironed satin tabards and an awful lot of thwarting and jousting and choreographed sword fights. This was a Middle Ages where Tony Curtis proclaimed 'yonda stands da cassel of my fadda' in his salty New York accent (sadly apocryphal).

I learned this wasn't the full story. Nurtured by inspiring teachers who introduced me to Chaucer, I found a perfect home at the University of Leeds with its specialism in Old and Medieval English. I fell in love with the cadence of Anglo-Saxon poetry, a dance of language that feels fresh despite being 1000 years old. Ever seeking the story, my undergraduate dissertation explored the parallels between Saints' Lives and fairy tales (dear old Vladimir Propp & structural analysis). My MA was in Medieval Studies – not Creative Writing. My dissertation rejoiced in the title 'The Apocryphal Elements in the Benedictional of St Aethelwold', and combined art, politics, social history, faith and linguistics. I'm sure it sounds frightfully old hat, but in the early 1980s postgraduate study that drew together separate subjects was unusual. To my mind, the MS wasn't produced in a vacuum, so it seemed nonsensical to study it in one. (As a sidebar, I was offered a doctoral scholarship to study the Lives of the Virgin Martyrs, but life has its odd bifurcations and I chose the path of singing in Goth band The March Violets).

However much I like to keep up with current research, I'm clear that my novels are not academic publications. Nor should they be. The two have different purposes, goals and styles. History on its own is not a story, let alone one that compels the reader to turn the page. One of the first questions I'm asked at book signings is how I do my research, as if that's all that's needed. My attitude is that it's vital, but like high-fat food, best taken in moderation. Of course, I need to research the period assiduously. However, it's essential to know when to stop. I am driven to distraction by novels in which the narrative comes to a juddering halt whilst the author goes off on a tangent about Babylonian cylinder seals (a prime example is Dan Brown. If you think I'm joking, check out).

The way I see it, the art of good research is when the reader barely notices its presence, only that everything feels right. Personally, I don't care if an arrow is fletched with swan feather, eagle feather or magpie feather. I want to know who is shooting it, who dies, and why I should give a monkeys. A great example of a novel in which the history – pungent, gritty, humorous and ghastly – serves the story and characters rather than the other way round is Umberto Eco's The Name of the Rose. It had a profound influence on how I approach the writing of my own novels.

Dammit, Jim, I'm a storyteller, not a historian.

I don't write the past because I regard it as quaint, safe and charming. When I encounter fictionalisations that portray people from 'back then' as different and one-dimensional (tropes of the simple peasant, saintly maiden, evil sheriff, chivalric knight etc), I switch off. I am at odds with the saw 'the past is another country; they do things differently there' (LP Hartley, The Go-Between, 1953). My personal conviction is that we haven't changed much; that we share the same motivations. Love tastes like love and hatred like hatred, whatever era.

I don't see myself as a historical writer, specifically. Not that I've a problem with the label – I've been called worse. But it's where my characters and their narratives take me and in it I find a freedom to plunge into fictional voices. I link this to Emily Dickinson's 'Tell all the truth but tell it slant' and Michael Ondaatje's assertion that one can be 'more honest when inventing, more truthful when dreaming' (Interview with Eleanor Wachtel, June 1994, Essays on Canadian Writing; Issue 53). The very phrase 'historical fiction' is something of an oxymoron; a dislocation of truth (history) and lies (fiction). I relish the dance of that tension.

Taking a step back in time can make it easier to see the trees, so to speak. Historical settings provide a sense of distance, which can be particularly handy when tackling difficult subjects. These are what motivate me. In addition to Plague deaths, Vixen also touches on domestic violence, misogyny, hatred of the outsider, child abuse, the urgency of brief lives and how fear can make monsters of good men. I've found that historical settings can act as a buffer between the reader and the grimness, as well as providing windows through which narrative light can shine. Light is as vital as darkness.

I have a penchant for sneaking things in beneath the radar. One of Vixen's themes is how two women find each other. Anne is a young villager whose expectations run to husband, children and no further. Through her relationship with the Vixen she discovers love can transcend gender. However, they do not refer to themselves as gay, let alone queer (if there's one thing I find more irritating than cod-medieval romps full of corsets and yea forsooths, it's modern people in wimples).

In 14th century Europe, women's sexuality was of such little importance there was no word for lesbian. The idea that women might have sex with other women was largely incomprehensible, for the simple reason that sex was dependent upon the presence of a penis. The fulminations of the church were almost entirely directed at men who practised sodomy ( (but see Judith C. Brown, Immodest Acts, OUP 1986; and The Lesbian Premodern, edited by Noreen Giffney, Michelle Sauer and Diane Watt, Palgrave, 2011). Whatever else fenced them in, Anne and the Vixen are not hemmed in by vocabulary.

One of the many pleasures of historical fiction is the opportunity to give a voice to those who don't make it into the history books. A motif running through all my writing is that of the outsider; someone who won't (or can't) squeeze into the one-size-fits-all templates on offer and the friction that occurs when they try. It explains my choice of first person present tense for Anne and the Vixen. I wanted them to speak for themselves, rather than endure the ventriloquising that comes with third-person.

At heart, I'm interested in creating characters who are greedy, curious, yearning, silly, striving, hopeful, cantankerous, nurturing, disobedient, sneaky and self-serving. Characters with unrequited sexual desires because of guilt, self-denial, or fear of social condemnation. In short, characters who live and breathe and change; and as they change their desires change and develop too.
Rosie Garland

Posted on June 6, 2016

Click for Women's Literary Culture Blog

Published in News
Tuesday, 19 December 2017 14:13

2.2.2018 - Making Thunder Roar, Haworth

Making Thunder Roar: Emily Brontë

Preview event
Friday 2nd February - 7.00pm

Old School Room,
Church Street,
Haworth,
Keighley BD22 8DR

This is the preview of the new exhibition, "Making Thunder Roar: Emily Brontë", which will open at the Brontë Parsonage Museum on Thursday 1 February. The preview show invites a number of well-known Emily admirers to share their own fascination with her life and work. Specially commissioned contributions from Maxine Peake, Sally Wainwright, Caryl Phillips, Rosie Garland and Helen Oyeyemi amongst others result in a thought-provoking selection of Emily’s possessions, writing and artwork as well as some of the well-loved household objects she used daily.

#Emily2018

https://www.bronte.org.uk/whats-on/483/bronte-treasures/501

The Brontë Parsonage is home to the world's largest collection of Brontë artefacts, manuscripts and personal belongings. During 2017 we are offering a unique opportunity to go beyond the security cord into the Parsonage Library for a close-up viewing of some of the items not on display. During these special hour-long sessions, a member of our curatorial team will share facts and stories about a number of carefully-selected objects, offering a specialist insight into the lives and work of this inspirational family. Fascinating and moving in equal measures, Brontë Treasures is a not-to-be-missed experience.

https://www.bronte.org.uk/bronte-200

http://www.bronte.org.uk/whats-on/news/208/bronte-society-reveals-plans-for-emily-brontes-bicentenary-celebrations

Published in Gig List

News and Events

  • Royal Society of Literature - Fellowship
    Royal Society of Literature - Fellowship
    Royal Society of Literature Fellowship

     

    On 12th July 2023 I was made a Fellow of The Royal Society of Literature! It was something I never imagined in a hundred years.

    It's a tremendous honour, & a testament to the quality of my writing. To say I am thrilled is a huge misunderstatement.

    https://rsliterature.org/fellows/rosie-garland/

    https://www.theguardian.com/books/2023/jul/12/royal-society-of-literature-aims-to-broaden-representation-as-it-announces-62-new-fellows

    Written on Monday, 21 August 2023 09:12
  • Manchester City of Literature - Festival of Libraries 2023
    Manchester City of Literature - Festival of Libraries 2023

    Delighted to get the opportunity to talk to Manchester Festival of Libraries about the importance of libraries in my life!

    https://youtu.be/18VPl5qXvkM

    And there are many more –
    Watch all the short films featuring four accomplished Manchester creative practitioners who have worked closely with libraries over the course of their careers.

    Hear how libraries can support artists, writers, dancers, musicians and more to create original work, access valuable resources, gain practical support and inspire creativity.
    These films aim to highlight the rich creative diversity of our libraries, and pave the way for emerging artists to head to their local library for ideas and insight for their next big project.

    You can view all the films below.
    https://www.manchestercityofliterature.com/event/creatives-in-libraries/

    Written on Thursday, 22 June 2023 09:40
  • 'Because goddess is never enough' - a new film-poem!
    'Because goddess is never enough' - a new film-poem!
    ‘Because goddess is never enough’ – revealing the new film poem, made in collaboration with filmmaker Jane Glennie.

    Absolutely thrilled to announce this new film poem – created over 2021 in collaboration with amazing filmaker Jane Glennie. Inspired by the life of dancer and choreographer Tilly Losch, the film explores notions of erasure, strategies for persistence and the centrality of creative expression for the life of a woman in perpetual motion.

    We are delighted with the reception the film is receiving! A list of film festivals is below.
    AND there’s a ‘Book of the Film’!

    'Because Goddess is Never Enough (Peculiarity Press, 2022)
    Available from Blackwell’s (Waterstones, Amazon, etc)
    https://blackwells.co.uk/bookshop/product/Because-Goddess-Is-Never-Enough-by-Rosie-Garland-Jane-Glennie/9781912384167

    Flick through the book here –
    https://photos.app.goo.gl/zzDN5KKbUccqPZsQ7

    Film festivals & events 2022 that have selected & featured 'Because Goddess is Never Enough'

    Moving Poems May 2022
    'Because Goddess is Never Enough' – selected as one of ‘the best poetry films on the web’
    https://movingpoems.com/2022/05/because-goddess-is-never-enough-by-rosie-garland/

    Fringe Arts Bath Festival 27 May - 12 June 2022
    Bath’s annual free festival of visual arts
    'Because Goddess is Never Enough' – selected for WORDPLAY programme
    https://www.fringeartsbath.co.uk/festival-2022
    https://www.fringeartsbath.co.uk/wordplay

    Tranås at the Fringe International Arts Festival 2-9 July in Tranås, Sweden
    'Because Goddess is Never Enough' – selected for the LIVING FEMININITY programme.
    https://www.atthefringe.org/film-program-2022

    Women X Film Festival 2-4 September in Darlington, UK.
    'Because Goddess is Never Enough' - Honourable Mention
    https://riannepictures.com/womenx

    Women Over 50 Film Festival
    'Because Goddess is Never Enough' – nominated for Best Experimental film, selected for the AT MY CORE programme
    https://wofff22.eventive.org/films/62e15892943cb70054a692d9
    https://wofff.co.uk/2022/08/wofff22-films-announced-find-out-more-about-our-fantastic-official-selections/

    Athens 10th International Video Poetry Festival 28 September - 1 October 2022
    'Because Goddess is Never Enough' – screened 29th September within 'Feminist Struggles' programme
    https://theinstitute.info/?p=5226

    HOME Manchester, Filmed Up 28th September 2022
    ‘Because Goddess is Never Enough’ selected for Filmed Up programme.

    https://homemcr.org/event/filmed-up-sep-2022/

    The Feminist Film Festival, Bucharest, 13-16 October 2022
    'Because Goddess is Never Enough' – Official Selection
    https://filmfreeway.com/TheFeministFilmFestival

    Sunderland Shorts Film Festival October 17th, 2022
    'Because Goddess is Never Enough' – selected for the Art & Experimental Films programme
    https://filmfreeway.com/SunderlandShorts

    Zebra Poetry Film Festival, Berlin 3-6 November 2022
    'Because Goddess is Never Enough'.
    We are very proud to be selected for Zebra, the oldest and largest international festival of poetry films.
    https://filmfreeway.com/ZEBRAPoetryFilmFestival
    https://www.haus-fuer-poesie.org/en/zebra-poetry-film-festival/home-zebra-poetry-film-festival/

    Still Voices Film Festival, Ireland 9-13 November 2022
    'Because Goddess is Never Enough' – Official selection Experimental
    https://stillvoicesfilmfestival.com/

    Written on Thursday, 29 September 2022 09:41
  • Sept 2022 - The March Violets announce 5 CD boxset release!
    Sept 2022 - The March Violets announce 5 CD boxset release!
    Announcing the Novemeber 18th 2022 release of 'The Palace of Infinite Darkness'

    It's 40 years since The March Violets released our 1st 7" EP (seriously, FORTY).
    So it’s a great time to announce that this tasty 5 CD Box Set is now up for pre order from Jungle Records!
    The Palace of Infinite Darkness - In addition to all the singles plus all the extended versions, the box has six excellent BBC sessions, 23 tracks with 9 unreleased songs (also reissued as Big Soul Kiss 2LP yellow vinyl after a sold-out RSD release). Then there are two whole discs of unreleased demo sessions – one from the early period 1982-84 and another from 1985-87. Founder-member Rosie Garland recounts the band’s story in a 44-page booklet.
    Check out the link:
    https://smarturl.it/MV5CDbox

    Written on Thursday, 22 September 2022 12:19
  • June 2022 - Queer Poetry for The Arvon Foundation
    June 2022 - Queer Poetry for The Arvon Foundation
    Residential Writing Week: Queer Poetry

    A wonderful experience – for the first time, I co-tutored a residential writing week for the prestigious Arvon Foundation! It was such a thrill to work alongside inspiring co-tutor Keith Jarrett and electrifying guest reader Jay Bernard.
    A very special week. I won’t forget it.

    Monday June 27th - Saturday July 2nd 2022
    Totleigh Barton, Sheepwash, Beaworthy Devon
    https://www.arvon.org/writing-courses/courses-retreats/residential-writing-week-queer-poetry/

    Written on Wednesday, 21 September 2022 15:16