March 17, 2007

Well, those of you who’ve followed my neurotic progress towards the Freedom Showcase’s final trial, may know that today is D-Day. 11-5pm, a kind of all day Poet Idol, where 18 shortlisted poets are whittled down to 9.

It’s just gone 8am.I got up at 6.30. The poem was beating in my head like razored bat wings. I’m not meant to do any writing till the actual workshop, today…probably won’t be picked for the comission..but bugger that. Even if I don’t get picked, this is a story I want to write. When you’ve got the lines for something, buzzing around your head and you don’t write them down, they get lost and may well not come back. So, I wrote them down. This is just a first draft. I think it’ll need a lot more work if I decide to pursue it, but picked or not, at least I’ve got it…

Elizabeth Heyrick

I don’t want fame
impossible to say and not sound false
but I never did and just as well.
I don’t expect
you’ll know too much about me now.
Doesn’t matter-
never wanted fame
fame was never what we
ever cared about. We wanted-

In the eyes of God all men are equal.

Ha – all men, not
all wo-men
and not jews
and not blacks.
We knew a bit about oppression,
we knew a bit about
second. So, no – fame?
it never really ever had a chance
We wanted-

But I’m getting ahead of myself.
Must slow down. My name,
is Elizabeth-
Elizabeth Heyrick, wife of John,
John who never did a great deal
worthy of distinction – still,
not a bad man, Mr Heyrick-
John- dead now. Died 8 years on.
Left us childless, but perhaps
for the best – looking back.
Perhaps none of this
would ever of come to pass,
if John had hung around.

Dear John,
It’s Elizabeth, your little Dove,
John, I’m dead now,
but thought I’d write and tell you
what’s been going on.

My name,
is Elizabeth-
Elizabeth Heyrick, wife of John,
Born in Leicester, 1769.
You won’t know me
Don’t be embarrassed,
we’ve never met-
you might know William though –
William Wilberforce?
you might have heard of him.

William Wilberforce.
Born the same year as me, 1769 to
1833. Politician, philanthropist
and abolitionist.
Leader of the
parliamentary campaign
against the trade in slaves.
Didn’t much like me.

William, he wanted to take things-
slowly. Just the trade in slaves.
For now. But he didn’t get
the urgency. He’d never been
forced to sit in church
with his head down.
Forced to marry a man
twice, thrice, four times old.
He never knew,
what it was like
not to have the vote.

William. When I wrote my
seminal, Immediate not Gradual
End to Slavery

(you remember the pamphlet-back in 1824)
Do you remember what you did?
William, head of the official,
Society Against Transatlantic Slavery,
you told your men
not to come and speak
at any, Anti slavery
Women’s Society-

William, do you remember?
You tried to block the
of my pamphlet.
You said it was
woman with teeth.

Dear John,
guess what we did?
WE begged and we pleaded
we used all our female ways
all our gentle wiles.
They didn’t work.
So in the end
we took the simple route-
we pointed to the money.

My society, The Birmingham
Women’s Society,
had lots of money.
Daddy was rich
and in the 18th century
you took all the breaks that came your way
if you were born a MISS.

The Birmingham Women’s Society
leader of the 76
different women cells
against slavery
was the 5th largest donor
of William’s Party.

When we threatened
to withdraw our money,
Surprise, surprise,
William took us
much more seriously.

In 1933,
the bill appeared in Parliament
led by William,
forced by me

I didn’t live to see the end of Slavery
the bill passed in 1833.
I died in 31
Just too early.

I never wanted fame,
I wanted Justice
I wanted Freedom
I wanted liberation.
It’s not the end
but we’ve made a start
haven’t we.

3 Responses to “D-Day”

  1. The email address I entered is not valid – it has expired.
    But I could not ‘submit’ without it!
    I will be getting a new one soon


    In this piece of prose, (what is the actual meaning of the word “prose” and more to the point, what is it’s etimology?!!!) you look to the past – I tend to look to the future! but with a TARDIS the future IS the past.

    Q: As Doctor Why’s constant companion in his travels through space and time, will you help me inspire the people who abolished slavery in the first place without disturbing the fragile fabric of spacetime itself?

    A:You will and you have done already.

    Love you Lydia,

    See you on Monday, (and Tuesday) and Wednesday in Nottingham (and Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday)
    (my Daily Lydia)

    Good Luck and Break a Leg (or an ankle).
    Hope you get selected.

  2. Bonne chance dear Lydia. I can see why those words were waiting to be taken to page – brilliant poetry. JP

  3. Thanks Jane. I can’t seem to leave comments on your site anymore. HAs something changed?


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