Happy International Women’s Day from the TLW team!

As you all know, in honour of International Women’s Day, we held a guest blog competition. We are very pleased to announce that the competition winner is Deborah Molloy, with her fascinating and informative piece on Canadian author, Margaret Atwood.  Thank you Deborah, for your wonderful contribution to the blog.

Here is a quick update on the latest TLW news and events:

  • On Saturday 26th – Sunday 27th May we will be collaborating with the People’s Palace Glasgow to hold a Women’s Partial Suffrage Centenary Celebration. You can find out more about this exciting event here.
  • The team are looking forward to hosting a Roundtable discussion on partial suffrage at Glasgow University College of Arts Postgraduate Conference on the 29th. You can keep up to date with the latest from the conference on their WordPress, and if you would like to submit a paper then you still have a day to get your abstracts in!
  • We will be hosting a TLW film screening on Wednesday the 18th of April at the Gilchrist Postgraduate Club, Glasgow University. There will be more details of this announced over the next week, so keep your eyes peeled.
  • Our website has been given a small re-vamp, so you can now browse our past events, and our brand new Press and Reviews page which has links to event reviews as well as this recent article from The Skinny, which featured our book club.

Whether you are doing something special to mark IWD 2018, or quietly contemplating the achievements of women while you are in work, we hope you all have a great day. And if you ask us, there’s no better way to celebrate than by reading Deborah’s winning guest-blog . . . enjoy!

Reflections on Margaret Atwood, Deborah Molloy

I came across the works of Margaret Atwood when I was studying my A levels, long before her current vogue following the success of the TV adaptation of The Handmaid’s Tale.  My wonderful teacher chose not to give us that particularly bleak dystopian vision to study, but rather introduced us to her beautiful poetry with “Woman Skating”.  Atwood is probably more famous as a novelist but she has also published seventeen books of poetry, including this unforgettable piece which encapsulates the vision of her mother skating on a frozen Toronto lake.

“On the ice a woman skating,

jacket sudden

red against the white,

concentrating on moving

in perfect circles.”

Intrigued by the visual quality of her poetry, and the evident high esteem of my teacher, I went on to discover her fiction for myself, starting with The Edible Woman.  I had always been an avid reader, and had engaged with a wide range of genres, but this was the first feminist text I had discovered.  I was instantly hooked on her sly satire of the ‘perfect’ wife and the pressures put upon young women to conform in 1950s Canada.  She has a gift for humour, using it to leaven the bitterness of her subject matter, allowing her to highlight the cannibalistic nature of gender relationships through the happy medium of cake.

Margaret Atwood was the first author I discovered to talk about life in the raw, the struggle of being a woman in our society and the survival skills necessary to maintain a female sense of self.  She is a mistress of genre, and can meld historical memoir with science fiction without missing a beat.  Her concern for the environment is evident in much of her work, the futuristic Oryx and Crake trilogy sometimes feels uncomfortably close to coming true with its genetically modified fast food, cybercriminals and all-powerful pharmaceuticals conspiring to engineer the end of the world.  With her talent for capturing the essence of truth, if anyone ever offers you ChickieNobs for dinner then be very afraid.

I was fortunate enough to attend a talk she gave at the Edinburgh International Book Festival a few years ago, speaking with wit and urgency as she read from her then new novel about memory, ageing and our relationship with the past, The Blind Assassin, in which a grandmother tells her life story to her granddaughter, with all the twists and turns we have come to expect from an Atwood novel.   She recently became the inaugural contributor to the Future Library[1], committing an unpublished piece to a cultural time capsule to be printed in a hundred years’ time.  My great grandchildren will have the opportunity to discover this new Atwood treasure, like true time travellers, in 2114 – how I envy them!

Margaret Atwood is my contemporary literary heroine and deserves to be recognised for being a brave female voice for over fifty years.

“A word after a word

After a word is power.”  Spelling, Margaret Atwood

[1] More information about the Future Library Project is available here

 

Deborah Molloy is based in Whitstable, and currently undertaking her PhD at the University of Glasgow, focusing on female mental illness in New York fiction.

 

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