DWP: August 31

Wow, a lot happened on August 31st historically. We could be inspired today by: Isabella Di Medici, Maria Montessori, Malaysia gaining independence from the United Kingdom, the anniversary of the deaths of Diana Princess of Wales, Mary Ward or Empress Theodora of Byzantium. Please feel free to research and write about/with/from any of these. However, the prompt I’m setting for us takes inspiration from today being the birthday of poet Agnes Bulmer in 1775, and the anniversary of the murder of Mary Ann “Polly” Nichols in 1888; the first victim of the London serial killer known as Jack the Ripper.

Bulmer wrote the longest epic poem ever known to be written by a women, which took her 9 years to complete and is called Messiah’s Kingdom. Nichols is one of the women whose name is regularly erased by people’s fascination with her killer – all too often the case for victims of male violence. So today I want us to think about long-form writing and giving space to those who get erased. Start an epic poem – when you think you’ve finished, keep pushing through and see what happens when you get over the edge – and make it a tribute to those who have died at the hands of violent and misogynist men. Or make it a celebration or commemoration of the parts of your life that you cannot live fully, or that you have to keep secret, because of misogyny, or racism, ableism or trans- and homophobia. Tell the story of one of the other women whose birth or death is associated with today, or of your country or ancestors who have fought for freedom in big or small ways and deserve to take up some space. What is made small by misogyny/history that you can make big now – epically big?

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