Celebrating International Women’s Day 2023

To celebrate International Women’s Day 2023, we’re highlighting a range of titles which explore various thoughts and experiences affecting women’s lives today. Find many more fantastic books written by women on our website.

Are You Judging Me Yet? by Kim Moore

This cover shows a sculpture of a glass dress as if worn by an invisible figure. It is posed as if sat on its left hip with its legs stretched out to the side. The text reads: Are You Judging Me Yet? Poetry and Everyday Sexism. Kim Moore.

This collection of lyric essays by Forward prize-winning poet Kim Moore explores at the relationship between poetry and everyday sexism. Moore examines the dynamics of performing poetry as a female poet – drawing on her PhD research and experiences of writing and performing the poems in her second collection All The Men I Never Married which won the Forward Prize for Best Collection 2022. 

The essays tackle subjects that range from heckling at poetry readings, problems with the male gaze and explorations of what the female gaze might look like in poetry to discussions about complicity, guilt and objectification, the slipperiness of the word sexism and whether poetry can be part of transformational change.  

Listen to Kim chatting about the book on today’s episode of BBC Woman’s Hour.

Women’s Work Ed. Eva Salzman and Amy Wack

This cover shows an abstract painting of a child looking over the edge of a table with a blue coffee jug about to topple over on the top. The text reads: Women's Work. Modern Women Poets Writing in English. Edited by Eva Salzman and Amy Wack.

With over 250 contributors, this generous selection of poetry by women features poets from the USA, Canada, England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Australia, and New Zealand. Arranged by thematic chapters that touch on various aspects of modern life, this anthology aims to be a touchstone of women’s thoughts and experiences; to be entertaining and relevant as well as inclusive and representative of some of the best poetry published now.

In these ‘Post-Feminist’ times, is there a need for such a book? Is the literary establishment still as dominated by men as it once was? Who gets to decide the canon? Eva Salzman opens Women’s Work with a lively polemic, making the case for the women-only anthology with characteristic wit and flair.

Writing on Water by Maggie Harris

This cover shows a colourful illustration of a woman with red skin and hair filled with bright tropical fish. The text reads: Writing on Water. Maggie Harris.

Maggie Harris’ short story collection Writing on Water is informed by the Caribbean, where she was born, and Britain where she has lived as an adult, and through them, the wider world. Issues of belonging and migration feature, but alongside these are growing interests in voice, narrative, gardening and botany, music and family. There are both UK and Caribbean voices in these tales, told by children, migrants, mothers, and grandparents.

Republic by Nerys Williams

This cover shows a colourful print of a woman dressed in a black hoodie with large bunny ears on the hood. She has dripping dark blue rings around her eyes and stands out against an acid yellow background. The text reads: Republic. Nerys Williams.

Republic is about class, culture and community. It recounts the story of a young woman growing in west Wales up listening to the post-punk music of the 1980s and indie labels of the 1990s, decades which culminated in the explosion of “Cŵl Cymru” and new devolutionary powers in Wales.

Offering stories that are overheard, handed down, magnified, often translated from Welsh, this sequence of 80 prose poems creates a patchwork of narratives which share the challenges faced by women, Welsh-speakers, and other marginalised groups. This volume arose from the need to tell an alternative social history, one that commits an oral history to paper.

The Amazingly Astonishing Story by Lucy Gannon

This cover shows a black and white cutout image of a young Lucy Gannon standing in a white dress with her hands clasped before her as if in prayer. The background of the cover is bright pink and the text reads: The Amazingly Astonishing Story. Lucy Gannon.

Shortlisted for Wales Book of the Year 2021

Vividly told, The Amazingly Astonishing Story is a classic story of a working-class girl growing up in the fifties and sixties, where dreams and reality seem irreconcilable. Her Catholic upbringing, a father torn between his daughter and his new wife, her irreverent imagination and stubborn determination to enjoy life, all mean that Lucy Gannon really does have an amazing story (including meeting the Beatles in her school grounds) as she finds her place in the world.

Lucy Gannon is the author of 8 plays and 18 TV dramas or series, including The Best of Men, Soldier Soldier, Peak Practice, Bramwell, and Dad. She won the Richard Burton Award for New Playwrights and has been writer in residence at the Royal Shakespeare Company.

This Is Not Who We Are by Sophie Buchaillard

This cover shows an image of an African tree silhouetted against the purple, mist shrouded dawn sky. The text reads: This Is Not Who We Are. Sophie Buchaillard.

1994, Iris and Victoria are pen friends. Iris writes about her life with her family in Paris. Victoria is in a refugee camp in Goma having fled the genocide in Rwanda in which thousands are being killed. One day Victoria’s letters stop, and Iris is told she has been moved.

Twenty years later Iris, a new mother, is working as a journalist in London. As she prepares to return to work, her thoughts turn to Victoria and what might have happened to her. She pitches a story to her editor which sets her on a journey to find her pen friend. But as she follows the story, things emerge that make her question her own past. Was her father, a French government official, somehow involved in the genocide? Are her childhood memories more fiction than fact?

How have the lives of these two women, who shared a moment in time, changed in the past twenty years? As the pressure of long-kept family secrets builds, will they ever find each other? 

All The Men I Never Married by Kim Moore

This cover shows a collage of a man made up of tiny images of nature. Butterflies fly out from the figure in all directions, a stark contrast to the black background. The text reads: All The Men I Never Married, Kim Moore. Winner of the Forward Prize.

Winner of the Forward Prize for Best Collection 2022

Kim Moore’s award-winning second collection All The Men I Never Married is pointedly feminist, challenging and keenly aware of the contradictions and complexities of desire. The 48 numbered poems take us through a gallery of exes and significant others where we encounter rage, pain, guilt, and love. A powerful collection of deeply thoughtful and deeply felt poetry.

A City Burning by Angela Graham

This cover shows a photograph of a fiery orange and black sunset above a city reflected in the windscreen of a car. The text reads: A City Burning. Angela Graham.

Longlisted for the Edge Hill Short Story Prize 2021

A city burns in a crisis − because the status quo has collapsed and change must come. Every value, relationship and belief is shaken and the future is uncertain.

In the twenty-six stories in A City Burning, set in Wales, Northern Ireland and Italy, children and adults face, in the flames of personal tragedy, moments of potential transformation. On the threshold of their futures each must make a choice: how to live in this new ‘now’. With a virtuoso control of tone, by turns elegiac, comic, lyrical, philosophical, A City Burning examines power of all types, exploring conflicts between political allegiances; between autonomy and intimacy; emotional display and concealment; resistance versus acceptance. The result is a deeply human book full of hauntingly memorable characters and narratives.

163 Days by Hannah Hodgson

This cover shows a photograph of artist Sue Austin floating underwater in her wheelchair above a bed of yellow coral. Her arms are thrown out and her long dark hair streams out behind her. The text reads: 163 Days. Hannah Hodgson.

Longlisted for the Barbellion Prize 2022

In her debut collection 163 Days Hannah Hodgson uses a panoply of medical, legal, and personal vocabularies to explore what illness, death and dying does to a person as both patient and witness. In her long poem ‘163 Days’, her longest period of hospitalisation to date, she probes various truths which clash like a tray of dropped instruments in a silent operating theatre. The mundanity of hospital life is marbled by a changing landscape of mood, hope and loss. A gap yawns between the person she is, and the person in her medical notes. In ‘Aftercare’, Hannah navigates the worlds of both nightclubs and hospice care as she embarks on a new version of her life as a disabled adult. An important collection, in which Hodgson’s true voice takes poetry into difficult places.

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