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Transference Ritual

Available now for your reading pleasure is a short concrete poetic prequel to the Josephine Marlin: Origins novel due out this Christmas. You can either purchase Transference Ritual or you will find somewhere on the page a link to sign up to my newsletter and get it for free.

To get this book for free simply subscribe to my weekly Newsletter: Serial Wednesday with Karen Eastland

This Transference Ritual PDF Book is the prequel for the upcoming novel, Origins (Xmas 2018), in the Josephine Marlin and The Alternatives, Fields of Elysian series. The series is and urban fantasy based on Greek mythology.

Josephine Marlin and The Alternatives: Book One: A Friend in Need (Fields of Elysian 1) is available through Amazon Kindle.

The Story

Using ten abstract prose poems (Lye 2008), based on Greek mythology, I have created a piece of art titled Transference Ritual. Each poem has been composed in the form of an esoteric ritual to accompany the, Josephine Marlin: Origins novel due out this Christmas. It uses a mixture of metaphors and similes (Whitworth 2010), with Greek mythology to describe how the gods, if they had existed, might have communicated with each other.

The focus of the Book is to shine a light on the myths of the Greek gods within the context of the fantasy genre used in the novel. It contains elements of the supernatural and paranormal with each prose poem being, ‘daringly experimental by borrowing the layered narrative techniques of Laurence Sterne’ (Mullan 2018).

The Book is a series of poems that leads to the creation of a mystical character known as the Bearer. From a first person point of view (Burroway 2007, p. 56), I have used the creation of the universe as a birth metaphor (TEDx Talks 2015) to describe the emergence of that character into my fantasy world. Visual esoteric, metaphysical and abstract imagery has been used to add sensory perceptions and insights into the book for a more tactile experience (Batema 2017).

The Transference Ritual is an esoteric transformational journey that uses the ‘visionary fiction’ (Turner 2018) genre to relate the story of creation, based around Greek mythological and metaphysical themes. Visionary fiction is a fairly new genre that ‘embeds esoteric wisdom and paranormal experiences into a story’ (Turner 2018), setting it apart from the more general genre of ‘urban fantasy’ (Penn 2013).

Each poem is set in the urban environment of a fantasy world to ensure that real-world elements seamlessly mesh with that world. Supernatural elements have been incorporated to create rituals that explore the main creation theme of the book. Each poem allows the reader to ‘willingly suspend their disbelief’ (Murray 2013, p. 468). Each poem has ‘supernatural or magical elements set in a contemporary, real-world, urban setting’ (Hill 2018).

The Transference Ritual is a story told through verse using a heuristic approach (Tiryakian 1972, p. 498 ). McLoughlin cites Douglass and Moustakas in defining the heuristic methodology as being, ‘the search for the discovery of meaning and essence in significant human experience’ (McLoughlin 2013). There is no certainty about the true fantasy story behind each poem, with some poetry in this book being deliberately ambiguous and defying formulaic description (Riedinger 2004, p. 30). Supernatural elements have been used to encourage the reader to think about each separate item, and what the book is describing (Newland 2013), with every poem ultimately leading to the creation of a new being. Each poem has its own theme and discuss different gods and their abilities.

Using prose verse, some with several layers to them, I have succeeded in the having Transference Ritual stand by itself as part of, and separate from, the plot outline of the main novel, Origins.

To get this book for free simply subscribe to my weekly Newsletter: Serial Wednesday with Karen Eastland

 

 

References

Batema C 2017, Types of imagery in poems, viewed 27 July 2018, https://penandthepad.com/types-imagery-poems-10073998.html

Burroway J 2011, Imaginative writing: the elements of craft, 3rd edn, Longman, Boston.

Foundation, P 2018, Thomas Carlyle, viewed 14 July 2018, https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poets/thomas-carlyle

Hill A 2018, Genre definitions, viewed 26 July 2018, http://www.uctenglish.com/genre-definitions.html

Lye PJ 2008, Critical reading: a guide, viewed 12 July 2018, https://brocku.ca/english/jlye/criticalreading.php

McLoughlin N 2013, A companion to creative writing, John Wiley & Sons, London and New York.

Mullan J 2018, The life and opinions of Laurence Sterne: the first unapologetic literary celebrity, viewed 28 September 2018, https://www.theguardian.com/books/booksblog/2018/mar/18/the-life-and-opinions-of-laurence-sterne-the-first-unapologetic-literary-celebrity

Murray JF 2013, ‘Willing suspension of disbelief new roles for Violetta and Mimi’, American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, vol. 187, no. 5, pp. 465-467.

Newland T 2013, The difference between metaphysical and visionary fiction, viewed 12 July 2018, http://www.tahlianewland.com/the-difference-between-metaphysical-and-visionary-fiction

Penn J 2013, Writing fiction. What is urban fantasy anyway?, viewed 27 July 2018, https://www.thecreativepenn.com/2013/04/03/urban-fantasy

Riedinger AR 2004, ‘The formulaic style in the old English riddles’, Studia Neophilologica, vol. 76, no. 1, pp. 30-43.

TEDx Talks 2015, Daniel Tysdal: everything you need to write a poem and how it can save a life, video, 24 April, viewed 16 July 2018,  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z0BUYzMypi8

Tiryakian EA 1972, ‘Toward the sociology of esoteric culture’, American Journal of Sociology, vol. 78, no. 3, pp. 491-512.

Turner J 2018, Visionary fiction: what everyone ought to know about its relevance in today’s world, viewed 12 July 2018, http://www.transformationalwriters.com/visionary-fiction-what-everyone-ought-to-know-about-its-relevance-in-todays-world

Whitworth MH 2010, Reading modernist poetry, John Wiley & Sons, West Sussex, United Kingdom.

Do women really deserve the vote?

Why Suffragette film starring Carey Mulligan is painfully relevant to today, says Caroline Criado-Perez

By Caroline Criado-Perez  @CCriadoPerez

‘Although women did eventually gain the vote, so much of this film still feels painfully familiar’

Carey Mulligan as Maud in Suffragette

Carey Mulligan as Maud in Suffragette ( Steffan Hill )

Do women really deserve the vote? This is not a question that Suffragette, the new film from screenwriter Abi Morgan and director Sarah Gavron, sets out to answer. But, nevertheless, the question – and all the reasons why women shouldn’t be given the franchise – are threaded through the film, set from 1908 to 1913. Women are too hysterical, too over-emotional, too easily distracted by trivialities. They can’t be trusted to exercise their democratic rights with the proper rationality. In any case, aren’t women adequately represented by their fathers, their husbands? Who’s to say women would act in their own best interests, anyway? And let’s not forget the “soft power” women wield, by influencing their powerful men. Isn’t that enough for them?

Well, no, it wasn’t. Selina Cooper, a mill worker and Suffragette, wrote at the time in the Wigan Observer, that “[w]omen do not want their political power to enable them to boast that they  are on equal terms with the men. They want to use it for the same purpose as men – to get better conditions. Every woman in England is longing for her political freedom in order to make the lot of the worker more pleasant and to bring about reforms which are wanted. We do not want it as a mere plaything.”

A week or so after I attended a screening of Suffragette, the Labour leadership contest finally came to an end, with the election of three men to the most senior roles in the party: leader, deputy leader and candidate for Mayor of London. Sure, it was a shame none of the women had been elected – and it was particularly strange that Diane Abbott, closest to Jeremy Corbyn on policy, hadn’t done better, but surely Corbyn would make up for it in his Shadow Cabinet? But then the appointments came, and one by one, more male names were announced.

The women behind Suffragette pose to celebrate International Women’s Day

Those of us who protested that the supposed new politics was looking rather like the old politics, were given short shrift. The Shadow Cabinet is now gender equal, we were informed (the numbers were made up in the more junior positions – giving an unfortunate impression of scrambling), and Health and Education are the most important posts (despite being announced after the Great Offices of State). Why is the representation of women so important to you – don’t you understand that it’s policy that matters? These men will represent our interests – could the same be said for the available women? It all felt a little too retro. The thing is, while these men may well have the best of intentions, the history of the left, and of revolution, is littered with broken promises made to women.

Trade unions, formed to represent workers, too often in reality represented only male workers – some even standing against equal-pay legislation. In the United States, the radical feminist and left-wing activist Shulamith Firestone became so impatient with left-wing men’s attitude to women (Stokely Carmichael, the prominent civil-rights revolutionary, for example, famously stated that the only position for women in the movement was “prone”) that she told “the Left” to “fuck off”, announcing that “You can examine your navel by yourself from now on. We’re starting our own movement.” In more recent history we only have to look at the Arab Spring, and how one revolution after another has left, or even shoved, women behind – particularly galling given the crucial role women played at their beginnings.

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This is not, of course, to say that women will represent women’s interests simply because they are women. One of the pleasing curiosities of Suffragette is that Helena Bonham Carter, who plays Edith, a frustrated doctor-cum-Suffragette chemist, is actually granddaughter to Violet Asquith, daughter to the prime minister at the time the film is set – and Violet was vocally against women’s suffrage. But the fact that some women were against the vote, or that some women are against abortion for that matter, does not mean they should be barred from power until proven to work in women’s interests. In her book Lean In, Sheryl Sandberg talks about how, when she got pregnant while working at Google, she struggled to walk across the company car park. Sandberg was in a senior enough position to tell her superiors to create pregnancy parking – and they did, noting that the idea had never even occurred to them. And why should it? It hadn’t occurred to Sandberg until she herself needed it.

Pregnancy parking is not going to change the world overnight, but it does illustrate that you don’t have to share the experience, the worldview of another woman, to benefit from her power. You don’t even have to like her. But if you’re a woman working at Google who gets pregnant, you will benefit from the fact that there was a woman at the top.

Of course, one woman, and a woman of relative privilege at that, is not enough, even if she  does institute pregnancy parking. Sandberg does not have experience of the struggles a black woman working at Google might face, or a working-class woman. But neither do working-class or black men. What we need are for women of all classes, races, abilities to have the opportunity to represent themselves, so that power can truly serve the people. This was understood by the East London Federation of Suffragettes (Elfs), who, led by Sylvia Pankhurst, ultimately split from the middle-class-dominated Women’s Social and Political Union – in part because of a resistance from the WSPU to allow working-class women to hold positions of power and  speak for themselves. The Elfs understood the vote as part of a wider struggle against the discrimination of women: gaining a voice was not merely an end in itself, but a tool to transform women’s lives.

And, at heart, this is what Suffragette is about. It is about a woman finding her voice – and a working-class woman at that. Indeed, one of the most refreshing things about this film is not just that it is dominated by women’s lives, so unusual in a film industry where women make up only 28 per cent of speaking roles, but also that it is  a story about the Suffragettes that focuses on working-class women.

The story of the Suffragettes has been told to us as a story of middle and upper-class women, wearing white. The images of these white-clad soldiers are, as they were intended to be, striking. But white was an option only available to women who had more than one dress, and servants to keep it clean for them. Working-class women had neither the means nor the time to own a white dress – even if it meant not being recorded by the cameras. Working-class women were also less likely to be educated and therefore less able to keep diaries of their actions. They also lacked the time: many of them were the main breadwinners in their families, as well as chief scrubber and child-carer at home.

When Morgan came to write the script, she originally focused the story on Alice, an upper-class Suffragette played by Romola Garai. But, she says, “it felt very narrow. And then Sarah and I started to stumble on tiny little news articles” that referenced working-class women. Like the Elfs, they started to think about “the direct relationship between economic poverty and the inequality of women”. And so Maud (played by Carey Mulligan), who had originally been a minor part, a laundress who visited Alice’s house, switches with Alice to become the main focus.

By following Maud’s story, Morgan’s screenplay contextualises the fight for women’s suffrage within the wider fight for women’s rights. It’s very subtle, nothing is shoved in your face. It’s just there: Maud’s struggle to “have it all” – job, childcare, housework – before it became middle-class and aspirational; her sexually abusive boss who is in the process of moving on to younger meat; her husband, Sonny, played by Ben Whishaw, not a monster, just your average turn-of-the-century husband, to whom she hands over her wages and who has the power to take away her son and render her homeless.

The powerlessness of women in the face of their husbands is an issue that crosses class boundaries. After Maud’s first arrest, she is lined up against a wall in the police station with her fellow working-class Suffragettes. The camera pans over to a counter where a man is writing a cheque to the policeman behind it. Standing next to the man is Alice. She pleads with her husband to write a cheque to free all the women. When he refuses, she protests that it’s her money. He makes no verbal response, merely manhandles her out of the room. The message is clear: Alice may not be spending the night in police custody, but she is not free either.

Nevertheless, she does escape a prison cell – and, even if she hadn’t, the likelihood was that she would have received better treatment than the women lining the wall. The disparity, although denied by prison authorities, was brought to light by Lady Constance Lytton, who kept being released from prison without being force-fed (Suffragettes went on hunger strike to protest against being imprisoned as  criminals rather than political prisoners), as a result of her heart condition. She did not believe that her treatment had nothing to do with  her class, so she went to a Suffragette protest disguised as plain Jane Warton. She was arrested, force-fed until she vomited, and then slapped on the face by the prison doctor. The force- feeding continued for several days, until her  true identity was revealed – at which point her heart condition suddenly seemed to matter again, and she was released. She was to die not long after.

Lytton was not the only woman to die for the cause. The film ends with archive footage of Emily Wilding Davison’s funeral – the Suffragette who threw herself in front of the King’s horse at the Epsom Derby in 1913. Opinion is divided as to whether Wilding Davison intended to kill herself – and Suffragette leaves this  open to interpretation. Whatever her intentions, however, what is clear is that this was an act of desperation. “Although there were MPs  who were supportive,” says Morgan, “on the whole, the media and Westminster suppressed these voices.” The women’s increasing militancy is a mark of their increasing desperation to be heard. With the death of Wilding Davison, that aim was achieved.

But although women did eventually gain the vote, so much of this film still feels painfully familiar. Women are still being sexually abused, still being pathologised as hysterical, still being locked out of positions of power and ridiculed for caring. Of deciding to tell Maud’s story, her struggles, Morgan says, “It felt very 21st century in a way.” It certainly does.

Josephine Marlin
and the Alternatives