*poem of the day*

The Talk by Sharon Olds

In the dark square wooden room at noon
the mother had a talk with her daughter.
The rudeness could not go on, the meanness
to her little brother, the selfishness.
The eight-year-old sat on the bed
in the corner of the room, her irises dark as
the last drops of something, her firm
face melting, reddening,
silver flashes in her eyes like distant
bodies of water glimpsed through woods.
She took it and took it and broke, crying out
I hate being a person! diving
into the mother
as if
a deep pond—and she cannot swim,
the child cannot swim.

I have observed that male writers tend to get asked what they think and women what they feel. In my experience, and that of a lot of other women writers, all of the questions coming at them from interviewers tend to be about how lucky they are to be where they are – about luck and identity and how the idea struck them. The interviews much more seldom engage with the woman as a serious thinker, a philosopher, as a person with preoccupations that are going to sustain them for their lifetime.
—  Eleanor Catton has been getting a lot of press for being the youngest author ever to win the Man Booker prize, but in The Guardian she claims that the new fame is a mixed blessing that often brings up sexism.
Rachel Talalay Returns to Doctor Who: 2 Women Directors, Writers Confirmed!!!!

The BBC has just announced that Rachel Talalay will be returning to direct the two-part Series 9 finale of Doctor Who!

Rachel previously directed the finale episodes of Series 8, “Dark Water,” and “Death and Heaven.” Check out my interviews with her to learn more about her work on those episodes.

With the addition of Rachel to the roster, we now have two women writers and two women directors confirmed for Series 9! Hettie Macdonald (”Blink”) will be returning to direct, and Catherine Tregenna and Sarah Dollard will be writing their first episodes for Doctor Who.

I’m thrilled with how many women have been hired this season, and I can’t wait to see the amazing work they’ll do in Series 9!

Open Call Guidelines for “She Walks in Shadows” | Innsmouth Free Press

OMG OMG OMG Innsmouth Free Press, you know, the Lovecraftian micro-press run by Silvia Moreno-Garcia, is opening a call for submissions to an ALL-WOMAN LOVECRAFT ANTHOLOGY

She Walks in Shadows, the first all-woman Lovecraft anthology, will hold an open submissions period from November 15, 2014 to December 15, 2014. DO NOT SEND STUFF BEFORE THAT DATE. Keep the following in mind:

Submit short stories inspired by the work of Lovecraft that focus on a woman or female deity. It may be a character from Lovecraft’s work or someone of your own creation. You are not restricted to the 1920s as a setting. Steampunk, dieselpunk, noir, and any other sub-genre you can imagine are fine with us. Give us your best and most polished work. And yes, you must be a woman to submit. Women only.

To avoid the Asenath effect (that means every character in the anthology would be Asenath Waite), we asked the authors who are contributing stories to pick a different character from a Lovecraft story. While you are not bound to these restrictions, we suggest that if you use a character from Lovecraft’s fiction, you avoid the usual suspects (Asenath and Lavinia).

Consider interesting and novel settings for your stories. Surely, strange Lovecraftian entities haunt contemporary Nunavut or the Inca fought strange webbed monstrosities centuries ago. Anne Boleyn, evil sorceress or woman fighting the good fight against the Mi-Go? We may never know. Or maybe we will.

POCs are highly encouraged to send stories. Transgender writers: same thing.

Stories may be sent in French, English, or Spanish. We can read all three languages.

Story length is up to 4,000 words with a pay rate of 6 cents a word (Canadian $, eh). No reprints, please.

Submit your final story as a Word or RTF attachment by the deadline to innsmouthfp(at)gmail(dot)com. Use the subject line: Slush Shadows. Include a cover letter with a biography (Yes, we want to know a bit about you), word count, and your name and contact information. Please use italics as italics, bold as bold, number your pages and the like.

Check out the bold!

Oh, you know, just a few store faves for this International Women’s Day.

How Meryl Streep Is Using Her Own Money to Combat Ageism and Sexism in Hollywood

Plenty of women in Hollywood express frustration over lack of representation in their field. Meryl Streep is actually doing something about it. 

“The lack of film roles for women over 40 was the topic of much discussion earlier this year when actor Russell Crowe brushed aside the notion that roles dry up for actresses of a certain age. He pinned the problem on women being unwilling to act their age on film and used Meryl Streep as a vaulted example for actresses everywhere. When asked about Crowe’s comments, Streep seemed on board, saying, “I agree with him. It’s good to live within the place that you are.”

But, apparently Streep acknowledges that more could be done for older women in Hollywood because the actress has used her own money to help fund a screenwriting lab for women writers over 40, to be run by New York Women in Film and Television and IRIS, a collective of women filmmakers. This support for her fellow women should come as no surprise given recent Streep events like that enthusiastic response to Patricia Arquette’s Oscar speech or her role as women’s-voting-rights activist Emmeline Pankhurst in the upcoming film Suffragette.

So how will a Streep-funded screenwriting lab for women over 40 combat ageism and sexism in Hollywood? Well, the prevailing school of thought is that improvements for underrepresented groups on camera (women over 40 being just one of many such groups) will only truly change when Hollywood shifts away from the straight, white-male-dominated scene behind the camera. According to a recent study by the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film, the percentage of women behind the camera is actually declining. Women only represent 7 percent of directors, 11 percent of the writers, and 18 percent of the editors on the biggest moneymaking films over the past 17 years.

This new Streep-funded Writers Lab aims to give that 11 percent writing number a healthy bump and the program has drafted a few established talents in mentorship roles including writer-director Gina Prince-Bythewood (Beyond the Lights), producer Caroline Kaplan (Boyhood), and writers Kirsten Smith (Legally Blonde) and Jessica Bendinger (Bring It On).

Presumably, the Writers Lab participants won’t be restricted to writing female-focused scripts. But it is worth noting how a female perspective can not only potentially offer up more roles for women over 40, but also change the established rules for what a woman-over-40 role looks like on film. Streep may have agreed with Crowe that “it’s good to live within the place that you are,” but at 65 years old, she’s constantly pushing the boundaries of what that “place” is.

This year the Streep-funded Writers Lab will accept submissions May 1–June 1, with eight winning writers named August 1. That’s just in time for winners to celebrate with a screening of Ricki and the Flash which opens on August 7. Get your writing and shredding fingers ready.”

Read the full piece here

All Hail Roxane Gay

Scratch interviewed Roxane Gay and her answers are predictably perfect. Yes to this picture, yaaaas to all of this:

What do you aspire to next in your career?

I would like to win a Pulitzer. But more importantly, I would like to write something worthy of a Pulitzer.

That is a very concrete goal!

I have very concrete goals.

I suppose the flip side of the goal question is, what do you regret? Where do you feel like you fucked up?

I don’t really have any career regrets. I’ve made mistakes, but that’s part of life.

Picture taken from Scratch. Note: you have to create a log-in to read the full interview–do it! Scratch is great and this interview is excellent. 

I work on a long-running TV show...

…In the script department, and the walls are really thin between offices; we basically hear everything everyone else is saying unless they mime it.  

A work experience guy (my age) was spending a month working there, and was proving to be particularly arrogant and entitled, given one of his parents is a vaguely famous writer/producer in the industry.

I discovered that this work experience moron had accessed highly confidential documents that I was still working on, and was reading them and making comments on why they weren’t finished yet to my co-workers, because clearly he’d decided he wanted my job. So I took him aside and gave him a calm serving about how unprofessional he was being, and how I expected him to lift his game in future.

I then listened as he walked into my male boss’s office later that day, and said, “I think I upset [Jane] earlier — she was really emotional.” If that wasn’t bad enough, I listened as my boss told him “Sorry about that, yeah, don’t worry about it.”

I’d forgotten that spending a year working with my boss ceased to count for anything when it came to choosing to support a female co-worker over a fellow penis-owner.

“Poetry, above all, is a series of intense moments - its power is not in narrative. I’m not dealing with facts, I’m dealing with emotion.” – Scottish poet,  Carol Ann Duffy.  And here’s a famous poem:


Not a red rose or a satin heart.

I give you an onion.
It is a moon wrapped in brown paper.
It promises light
like the careful undressing of love.

It will blind you with tears
like a lover.
It will make your reflection
a wobbling photo of grief.

I am trying to be truthful.

Not a cute card or a kissogram.

I give you an onion.
Its fierce kiss will stay on your lips,
possessive and faithful
as we are,
for as long as we are.

Take it.
Its platinum loops shrink to a wedding-ring,
if you like.

Its scent will cling to your fingers,
cling to your knife.                             


Women have sat indoors all these millions of years, so that by this time the very walls are permeated by their creative force, which has, indeed, so overcharged the capacity of bricks and mortar that it must needs harness itself to pens and brushes and business and politics. Virginia Woolf

   Happy International Women's Day, from our bookshelf to yours. 
“Breaking In” as a Woman

I had the opportunity to have a short phone conversation with a successful television producer recently.

It was kind of a “Good for you for networking, young person! Keep at it!” conversation, which was nice of him. But one part of the conversation still bothers me. He said that, as a woman, my best bet to land a writer’s assistant job was to babysit for a [male] writer first. He indicated that this was a “sneaky” way women are getting into the biz these days.

To be honest, he’s so high up that if he needed a babysitter, I’d fucking do it. But I can guarantee I’ll be putting a script on his desk and in his car and in his fridge every single day. They’ll be popping up out of his toaster and taped to his mirror and his kids are gonna start quoting my lines to him because I’ve replaced all of their kiddie books. Speaking of the kids, they’re gonna have to grow up real fast because I’ve never babysat a day in my life. Someone chokes, they better know how to do tiny Heimlich maneuvers ‘cause that shit’s never come up in my research for this hour-long dramedy I’m writing, so I really can’t be bothered.

I’m a writer, not a caretaker. Being female doesn’t automatically make me a caretaker. And don’t lie. You’d fire me in an instant if I started handing you scripts in your own home.

Tell me how the guys get in and how ‘bout I try that?

“Have you seen today’s Google Doodle celebrating Smart Girl Nellie Bly? She penned an incredibly fierce rebuttal to a sexist column titled “What Girls Are Good For,” which claimed that women are best suited for domestic chores rather than work outside of the home.

This led to a career in investigative journalism, a trip around the world, and smashing the patriarchy.

Watch the Google Doodle animation (with a song) here

As seen on the  Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls Facebook page