Women with Fierce Words

19 Feb 2021

By Mira Waligora

Abhainn - Patience – Outdorphins – Hope – Falling in love with the here and now – Persevere – Togetherness – Pressure – Persistence - Rise – Ingenuity – Rest – Dreaming – Revolution … These are just some of the fierce words from last night.

The event started with an introduction from Lesley Traynor, the founder of Women with Fierce Words (founded 2016). The atmosphere was set for an evening of truth telling, of empowering words spoken by women with no censorship and no self-censorship. Lesley spoke about the challenge of adapting a multimedia interactive event to the online world. I can safely say they’ve done a wonderful job. The audience was invited to use the live chat box to share their fierce words out of which an artist canvas would be produced and later shared on their Facebook page. The collective was also active in the chat which really promoted audience participation. The live chat was filled with connection between the people watching, sharing fierce words, giving praise to the artist, sharing, linking, uniting.

The recording of this event is available on the Paisley Book Festival YouTube page and I urge you: watch it. The hour-long show is a collection of multimedia performances, futuristic videos with dystopian sounds, soft music, funky music, images and videos of everyday life. This use of multimedia satisfied all my senses; I was captivated.

When I tried to figure out how this event made me feel, two words came to mind – first comfort. It felt so comforting to listen to these women’s stories. They were soft and caring, strong and serious, moving and relatable, sad – often sad– but always comforting. There’s something special when people are given the time and space to speak, their thoughts, their minds uncensored. And the second word is suadade, a Portuguese word defined as a deep emotional state of melancholic longing for a person or a thing that is absent. A deep longing for so many things lost and slightly forgotten, for plans. As one poem beautifully puts it: “do not plan change or change plans or plan, it could cause pain”.

There was a special appearance from poet Saima Afreen, all the way from Hyderabad, India (with the time difference she apparently stayed up till 3am to be part of this event!). Her words were mesmerising and powerful. Her fierce word was Agni, which she explained is Sanskrit for fire. She spoke about powerful poetry, power poetry and how poetry can dream a revolution.

Words are powerful. Poetry is powerful. People speaking their truth, uncensored, is powerful. We all have a voice; we all have a fierce word. What is yours?

My fierce word of the night was “howl”. Like a wolf, howl with anger and frustration.

I think we’re going to be processing this past year for years to come. I believe in hope, but I’m apprehensive. I’m worried about this government’s ability to imagine a better future for us all. I’m worried about the divisions in society. I’m worried about people not caring and the rich getting richer and the poor dying. I’m angry that we don’t live in a world where society is taken care of.

I’m angry that all of the contraceptive methods that exist are for women. It angers me that it’s taken for granted the things women’s bodies go through. I’m angry that “your body ejecting the coil” and “it’ll be around 6 months for breast tenderness, bloating or bleeding to subside” are side effects of contraception that women just deal with while male contraceptive was pulled after the test subjects experienced some side effects. It angers me that so many things are assumed responsibilities. The mental load, the emotional load.

I’m angry and I want to howl with all of the power that I have. This is my uncensored truth