Tag Archive | Attitudes

Mince Pies 

This poem may appear to be written on a favourite festive food, but look beyond the title and you’ll find it’s really about the greed and self satisfaction that Christmas can sometimes bring and the cold hearted indifference in our attitudes to others and especially to those most in need of our help. I’ve given it the title Mince Pies I hope you find it a challenging and thought provoking read. 

Mince Pies

Mince pies 

a festive favourite 

with custard or on their own 

hot or cold 

perfect with coffee 

or even Irn Bru

comfort food until twelfth night 

then they disapeer from view

till mid November

when suddenly we remember 

that Santa will soon be coming to town 

thanks to adverts and christmas songs 

which are played non stop

on TV screens and shopping centres

in an effort to get us 

to part with our money 

as consumerism runs riot

masquerading as the feel good factor 

we are all told we need 

in a land where greed is sold as good 

is it any wonder we need comfort food

we need mince pies 

to survive the harsh realities 

of the bleakest mid winters 

where those with cold hearts 

walk past shop doorways 

where the dispossessed lie sleeping

as Jack Frost haunts their dreams 

© Gayle Smith 2017 

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We Have To Mind Our Language And Not Sow The Seeds Of Hate (My Blog For Common Space On World Transgender Remembrance Day)

I wrote this post for Common Space to commemorate International Transgender Remembrance Day and have made only a minor alteration to the title just as I did last year, for the purposes of reblogging on here. 

It is a tremendous privilage to have undertaken this task for the site I consider to be the best most ground braking news site in Scotland for the second year in a row and as such it is a responsibility I don’t take lightly. With this in mind I wrote what was originally two posts which Angela Haggarty the editor of Common Space and known for her innovation managed to combine in to one.

The main body of this post is in the form of an article on the impact of language in shaping attitudes to and about trans people and the concluding part of it comes in a poem Sometimes It’s The Little Things which was specifically written to commemorate the day and the small acts in life that can have a positive  or negative impact on a trans person’s quality of life. I have titled it We Have To Mind Our Language And Not Sow The Seeds Of Hate I hope you find a challenging and thought provoking read.

Till next time 

Gayle X

https://www.commonspace.scot/articles/12039/gayle-smith-media-needs-understand-consequences-its-words-trans-people

The Wrong Diagnosis 

  

In my latest poem I recall a recent incident as I take a look at arrogance, and assumptions based on stereotypical attitudes. The event in question happened a few weeks ago as I made my way to Katie’s Bar when a stranger attempted to bark orders at me and in typical Ruth Davidson fashion ordered me to sit down. Naturally I refused to entertain this attention seeker and made my way to my destination where I enjoyed a very pleasant evening in good company. However I decided to write this poem to illustrate that there are just as many ill mannered attention seekers in the LGBT community as there are anywhere else. I have given it the title The Wrong Diagnosis. I hope you enjoy the read. 

The Wrong Diagnosis 

On a quiet autumn evening

I am singing contentedly to myself 

as I walk to my pub of choice 

as it comes in to view 

a stranger shrieks at the top of his voice 

barks orders telling me to sit down 

says he’s seen me around 

really I reply

 walking on I ignore him 

he seems aggitated

 that I pay no attention to his demands 

but what he fails to understand 

is that while his scouse accent may be fine 

his Ruth Davidson style charm is something I can do without 

my world has borders 

and he’s just made the mistake of crossing them 

without my permission 

the line of respectability

has been violated

and history will show he was on the wrong side of it 

you don’t cross boundaries without permission

that doesn’t work it never has and never will

trust me I am not the kind of girl

who likes her world invaded by unwanted intruders

I don’t like the assumption  it implies 

you know boys will be boys 

and claim women as their prize 

this is male privilege of a very British kind 

which states if you ignore me

 I will diagnose you and give you a label

to which I think ‘it will be nothing to one I give you 

and trust me it will take you on a journey 

for which you wish you had never volunteered’  

but the moment he sneered at me 

I smiled knowing I held every ace in the pack 

and he could do union jack to stop me 

I played a tactical game 

because I checked his privilege 

and called him out for his arrogance 

I’d met his type before 

he had plenty to say for himself 

but nothing worth my time 

his crime was barking orders 

believing dog whistles work at his command 

and failing to understand 

a poet will always defeat 

a conservative charm school graduate 

especially one who gave her

the wrong diagnosis 

© Gayle Smith 2017 

Selective Tolerance

I have always believed myself to have a reasonably inclusive nature and like many poets I have tried to promote the values of diversity, equality, and fairness , though like many others much to my own disappointment, I will occasionally fall short on this. However, there are some things I hope I will not be guilty of such as selective tolerance or even worse the social exclusion of others as having been at the other end of this as soneone who identifies as a trans woman I can assure you it’s not a pleasant experience. This is particularly true when it happens as it so often does in the trans community from certain types of individuals within the LGBT movement who along with some feminists and self appointed socialists not all of whom are confined to one party are the kind of people I would and this is me being kind about it wish to undertake a year’s course on equality and why it matters just so they realise it isn’t only a right for them and their friends but for us all. It is with this in mind I have written this poem entitled Selective Tolerance I hope you enjoy the read.

Selective Tolerance

 
force fed ignorance by the press over the years 

trans people have been used to create

a fear of otherness

outsiders who belong somewhere else

anywhere else but not in our communities

this is emotional insecurity masquerading as the voice of the people

the cloak of prejudice is a well worn rag 

I am not a man in a dress 

I am not mentally ill

ever since I was an 11 year old 

member of the Osmonds fan club

I identified first as girl then as woman 

I don’t need to be lectured on biology

I know my limitations but fight for equality for all 

I believe in inclusion yet I am often excluded from the rainbow 

 by screaming queens who are trying and failing to be macho

gay male transphobes in working class Glasgow

give me much more abuse than straight men 

I call out fake feminists for what they are

and socialist imposters who lecture me on internationalism

whilst claiming my gender identity 

is a choice

believe me when I say  

they will hear my voice telling my story 

no doubt there will be some who will tell me 

to calm dowm and be quiet 

trust me with hormones running riot 

this is not an advisable course of action 

I am who I am and will forever be 

I reserve the right to be me 

wild, untamed, unashamed

rebellious but willing to conform 

when the time or the man is right 

no longer content to fight myself

in a war I can never hope to win 

I see the sour faces of those who call me sinner 

who can’t look themselves in the mirror

 are too afraid of what they might see

I’m happy to be me because I know

fear kills dreams faster than anyone can run 

and their haunted looks have been fashioned by the malice  of a society 

which places too much importance of sobriety

and doing what you need to fit in 

and being a trans woman is not considered 

by those who crave the formality of binary genders

and falsely link gender with sex and sexuality

when no such link ever existed

but force fed on ignorance 

those who want equality for some but not for others 

should look to the history books 

uncover the words of pastor Neimoller 

and remember he warned us

of those who have an agenda 

which won’t stop till they’ve completed 

the elimination game

a game they can only win if we play by their rules

and accept selective tolerance as our normality 

© Gayle Smith 2017

That’s Nice

This is a poem on that conversation that most poets will have had at least once in our lives when we’ve told a neighbour we’re going to a poetry night. I’ve given it the title That’s Nice as that’s the reply we are so often met with in that most awkward of moments but I’ve found more than once if you allow the conversation to flow there may come a moment when a light comes on and you change their perception of poetry. I hope you enjoy the read. 
That’s Nice

Whenever I’ve told someone I was going to a poetry night

I’ve been met with a standard reply  like that’s nice 

it’s good to have a hobby it helps pass the time 

the person is usually  trying to be polite 

but there struggling for something to say

there conversational ability limited 

by the fact they think Stanza is that team 

Celtic or Rangers beat a few years ago 

they even tried to name their star players 

I am greeted by blank stares when I add to their confussion 

by telling them Stanza has nothing to do with football

and is in fact a poetic form which poets use in our work

it’s like rhyming couplets I explain 

as the rain comes down from the heavens 

I attempt to make a run for it 

telling them that I need to be there by seven

even though the event doesn’t start till eight 

I need time to prepare my set 

they seem surprised that a neighbour they know 

will be on stage performing in front of an audience 

Oh I thought you were going to a reading 

maybe something to do with Burns 

I didn’t think you would be one of the turns 

so they ask  do you think  that poetry is for the likes of us 

of course I reply still smiling at the question 

well it showed a neighbourly interest in somebody from their community 

and that features strongly in my work 

I say I’ll let them know how the night went 

as I make a run for an oncoming bus 

it’s goes well that night it usually does

there was a good crowd the place was buzzing

as for my poems well what can I say 

I read them well my set went okay

but on the journey home I contemplate 

the events of an enjoyable evening 

and do you know my greatest achievement

It wasn’t the compliments I got from some well respected peers 

on my latest poems I had just debued 

it was that chat on my way to the bus stop

where I changed the way someone viewed my art 

I’m a girl from the schemes

who speaks from the heart

and see if by doing that I can open just one mind to poetry

as my neighbour would say that’s nice

that really is nice 

© Gayle Smith 2017 

A Warrior Wordsmith Who Speaks For The People ( A Review Of Door To Door Poet By Rowan McCabe)

Imagine the scenario. You get a knock on the door, you answer the door, and you see someone standing there with a clipboard and pen. Your imediate reaction is to ask the person concerned what they are selling and inform them as politely as possible that whatever it is you are not interested.  What happens however when far from being the predictable insurance , or double glazing salesperson you are met with reply I’m a poet would you like to tell me about yourself and what concerns you and I’ll write you your very own poem. 

My imediate reaction and i speak as a poet would be aye right so you are. So if i would be sceptical imagine the reaction Newcastle poet Rowan McCabe (pictured below) faced as he took his door to door poetry challenge round some of the roughest places  in the North East of England. 

During his year long mission Stockton born Rowan encountered a number of interesting characters and a significant number of  issues in his attempts to bring poetry to the people. Undetered our warrior wordsmith soldiered on in his quest to make poetry matter by making it relevant to the kind of audience who were put off by the poetry they were taught at school. 

As he begins the story of his poetic journey through the wildest parts of the north east, including the street once dubbed the roughest street in Stockton after being featured on the TV documentary show Benefit Street,  Rowan shares his poem on being a door to door poet and how he got the idea to do it which he says was due to boredom and wanting to do something different with his talent. As he takes us on his journey, he  tells us the story of Kyle a young man he met in a Newcastle housing scheme who would be the type of lad that polite society would cross the road to avoid. On meeting him Rowan explained his mission to be greeted by the expression what do i want with poetry ? Undaunted our door to door poet told Kyle that this poem would be his poem and be about the issues that mattered to him and he would receive a copy of his own customised poem . Gradually the man warmed  to the idea and challenged Rowan to write a poem about his girlfriend and how much he loved her .

 After finding out the information he needed Rowan wrote the poem First Date about Kyle’s first date in which he took his girlfriend to Greggs and they bonded over a steak bake. This claim was later disputed by his girlfriend who said that as she recalled it their first date was at the cinema . 

As our intrepid wordsmith continued on his journey he met a man who was concerned about immigration and had confessed to voting for Brexit , and a woman who had a passion for horses with a particular fondness for the three times grand national winner Red Rum.

During the course of his travels Rowan learned not only of the value of having good communication skills but also about being aware of the impact of The Data Protection Act when it comes to sharing online information and how even unwittingly a lack of knowledge on this topic can land you in some very tricky situations. 

Talking of tricky situtions our poet who dared to venture in to what the chsttering classes  would uncharted cultural waters learned a bitter lesson when it comes to  organisational cultute and the way it can make promises and then proceed to break them at the shortest possible notice. This through no fault of yours lead to cancel arrangements you made with others which were based on those promises and this can and did lead to a loss of trust all because someone else let him down on more than one occasion and this for Rowan meant losing relationships with potential participants he had worked really hard to build. 

Heartbreaking though it was Rowan ploughed on with his pioneering work and on meeting Alan an older man whose mother was German he discovered a man who was deeply concerned about the potential rise in far right racism in a post Brexit UK but was determined he would not be silenced despite having Swastikas daubed on his door by exactly the type of people he fears will grow in number. It was this meeting which  produced the inspiration for one of my favourite poems from the show , and Speak was a powerful poetic portrayal of why we need to be stronger than ever in our fight against this narrow kind of imperial , insular, xenophobic nationalism which in Scotland we call the worst kind of unionism.  Alan was featured on the BBC when their breakfast did a feature on Rowan’s ground breaking arts project and Rowan talked with warmth on his poem Speak which illustrates both Alan’s committment to speaking up for those people whose voices are being marginalised or ignored and Rowan’s passionate belief that door to door poetry can give them not only that voice but the belief that in 21st century Britain there opinions matter. 

This to me was the most heartwarming aspect of a show which I could very easily have overlooked had it not been for the glowing recommendations of two fellow poets whose opinions i rate highly enough to trust and Gemma Baker and Jenni Pascoe were totally right to tell me that this was a show i had to see. After an hour of poetry which was entertaining and thought ptovoking in equal measure i left raving about the talents of someone who is not only a door to door poet but a warrior wordsmith who speaks for the people. That someone is Rowan McCabe. 

Till next time

Gayle X

Ten Days

As pride gets ever closer this poem looks at the story of a princess and a trans girl. Only ten days separated me and Princess Diana. Ten days, and different world’s.Though never a royalist it would have been impossible for a trans girl only ten days younger than Diana not to gush over her glamorous lifestyle not to mention wardrobe but sometimes fairytales are not  quite what they seem and at a time when I was struggling to confront my gender identity issues,  her life appeared to be less complicated than mine It is fair to say that perhaps I didn’t  realise how much pressure she was under or how lucky I actually was. As is often the case when I’m finding it difficult to select a suitable choice of title I let a friend make the call for me. On this occasion the friend in question was a member of the Blue Chair poetry family Molly Frawley who agreed with my original choice of title Ten Days as this shows both the few  similarities I had with Princess  Diana and the even greater differences between us. I hope you enjoy what I think you’ll find a thought provoking read. 

Ten Days 

I was never a fan of the Royal Family 

but as a young trans woman coming to terms with my sexuality 

I was subliminally influenced 

by Princess Diana who was only ten days older than me 

you see I  liked the way she carried herself

even though one of her dresses 

would cost ten times my family’s combined wealth

if everyone put all our money together

getting engaged to a Prince on Valentine’s day

seemed like the most romantic fairytale ever 

till I remembered that fairytales only happened in panto 

not to 19 year olds from forgotten housing schemes 

in remote parts of Glasgow 

and to be honest I never fancied her man 

well I couldn’t be doing with a guy

who spent more time talking to plants 

than he did getting in to my pants

no matter how rich he was 

that kind of man could never be my type 

he was more Mr Wrong than he could ever be Mr Right

now I don’t why but I always thought the marriage was a sham

It was too great a contrast 

like David Attenborough meets Wham 

and that it was never going to work in the long run 

Diana knew the meaning of girls just wanna have fun

not just the lyrics 

while his stiff upper lip made him typically British 

and I do mean sexuallly repressed 

when she got married I focused on her dress 

and how I would love to have worn it

for my  wedding to the groom of my choice 

she gave me the strength to admit to myself 

I fancied boys not girls

well I was too busy wanting to be one 

to look at them in that way 

of course, in those days 

If I aired those thoughts folk would have just have assumed I was gay 

nobody even considered girls like me could exist 

so I transported myself to the dream world 

of a girl who was just 10 days older than me

when her death came I was saddened 

though not as surprised as some 

I thought it best to say nothing

play dumb and watch Blair hijack her death 

cry fake tears for the queen of hearts

the people’s princess 

the girl who made another girl smile 

as she showed me style and high fashion

the kind of outfits I would have loved to have worn to the dancing 

if only I had the chance 

but the princess who was only ten days older than me 

was the girl who had everything

until she realised that sometimes princes turned in to frogs

and not every fairytale has a happy ever after 

© Gayle Smith 2017