Tees Women are Thriving this International Women’s Day

The Thriving Women collective recently returned to Thrive Teesside to write for International Women’s Day on this year’s theme of embracing equity

Julie Easley, Thrive Group Leader says, “that’s all very lovely but it is an idealistic dream if you are a woman on the intersection of feminism – not all women are equal. In our Thriving Women group we are the underrepresented, the women who some sections of the sisterhood would rather be silent or even not exist.”

With that in mind, the group embarked on a four week journey of writing about embracing equity in the context of women with lived experience of poverty and social injustice – as an act of activism rather than celebration – because at its heart, International Women’s Day is a day of protest.

The women studied poems of imagery, crisis and identity. They listened to Kae Tempest, Reece Lyons and Carmen Marcus, and read Stevie Smith, June Jordan, Trace Peterson and Fady Joudah. “We flipped fairy tales upside down and inside out, imagined our poverty as a single image and embedded our inequality as women on the margins of society – in poverty, disabled, black, queer, transgender, abused, refugee/stateless. We wrote poems of solidarity for our Trans sisters, who, when embracing equity in the real world are met with hate and fear,” Julie told us.

The Thriving Women International Women’s Day poems are a mirror to life in the UK right now, reflective of those who feel excluded, unaccepted or held back (opposite to embraced), and highlighting factors of inequality that fight against their ability to embrace equity.

You can find out more about the Thriving Women group, and follow Tees Women Poets on Twitter for up to date news and events.

Please see all featured poem text here:

They blamed the kettle

They blamed the kettle,

It started full,

Topped up to the line,

Starts with a click

The shouting, the hurting

Water into steam,

The cries, the rage,

Almost half empty

Distractions left and right,

Click after click,

It boils and boils, heat and energy

No tea for anyone as the kettle runs dry

It keeps going,

Plastic warps, metal bends

Unrelenting hate,

Burns through the table

They blamed the kettle,

When the house burnt to the ground,

And yet you never refilled it,

So what did you expect.

Sarah York


Blackbird lifeless 

Eyes staring, still warm 

Brought down 

By the whim of a cat 

Reminder of the fragile span 

Between comfort 

And crisis 

And demise 
Sandra Falconer

Not Good Enough

When she tried to hide the bruises

They said, ‘Not good enough,

‘She shouldn’t have got married so young’

So she left

When she struggled to live on benefits

They said, ‘Not good enough,

‘Single parents are just a drain on the system’

So she got a job

When she tried to rise above the typing pool

They said, ‘Not good enough,

You need qualifications if you want to get on

So she got an education

When she graduated from a Poly,

They said, ‘Not good enough,

For high level jobs

So she taught

Other kids from the streets

To stand up and fight

And NEVER to take

‘Not good enough’

Sandra Falconer

The Wiz of Was

The world gone wrong

golden streets dyed red

The witch’s ghost sounds out

though everyone knows she’s dead

With the fall of the wizard

We hoped the sun shines soon

But he escaped his tarnished city

ran off with his green balloon

The strawman given brains

to lead against the fight

The robot given heart

to question what is right

And the kingdom of the lions

“The bravest of us all”

They only attack what scares them

so their leaders can stand tall

Yet left alone is the displaced child

searching for her queen

But alas the queen was born a man

so will forever go unseen

Sarah York

I am a Woman

I am a woman.

I am a black woman.

I am a woman.

I am an ally with trans women.

I am a woman.

I am a woman in pain of my colour identity.

I am a woman going through pain 

of what I call injustice.

I am a woman going through the pain

of inequality.

I am a woman going through the pain

of people being taken away

from her with no just cause.

I am a woman of faith

that keeps me going strong 

every day of my life.

I am a woman living in poverty

due to not working.

I am a woman.

I am a trans ally.

Adetutu Diana Agunbiade


Down, down, down

She allows her eyes to drop

To the dots that are people

On the ground

Far, so far away

She sighs

They are aliens

On another planet

She’s imprisoned here

Yet she holds the keys

Her cheek feels the tear 

As she falls to her knees

Alone, cold, so dirty 

Her head rises up

Hands touch her matted hair

It feels like straw

When did she last care?

She tugs the brittle strands

Plaits the length, so long

Oh so long 

What went so wrong?


It was him

She was never good enough

Too tall, too goofy, too fat

Yet what was he

But a bad tempered twat 

His words still swim in her head

Will they ever go away?

Maybe she’d be better off dead 

The letterbox rattles

The noise makes her jump

She stands, retrieves the letter

The familiar brown envelope 

Heralds the truth

Nothing can get better

Another assessment looms

Tears sting her eyes

She sobs into that mass of hair

But nobody will hear her cries

She takes her box of Prozac

Shallows the pill hard

It scratches as it descends

Sharp just like a shard

Of glass

The pain will pass

Essential but evil

Addiction arrived 

Without an invitation 

She jumps at a sudden noise

Her paranoia strong 

It’s the lads who hang in the next flat

Laughing and high on their bong 

She catches her foul breath 

As her little heart beats fast

Remembers grounding by counting 

The moment soon passed

Her body stinks to high heaven

She knows the stench is rank

But there’s no hot water

No pennies in her bank

Sanctioned for not turning up

To the nazis at the job place

But how could she go outside 

When she cannot show the world her face?

Her bare arms 

Have dark patches

But it’s now dirt

Not his inflicted bruises

He can no longer beat her now

But hey, who wins? Who loses?

Because scars run deep

In the bowels of her mind

A puzzle to other folk

Nothing good for them to find

Oh she so wants to leave this place 

Throw off that invisible fetter

But there’s a price to pay

To her historical debtor

There was a life when she was fine

Once upon a time

She had choices

But she turned the other cheek

Listened to the wrong voices

Once daddy’s little princess

Until told to lie in the bad bed she’d made

Disowned and deleted by family

When her stupid bid was bade

There’s no escape, it seems

No friends left, no phone

She’s here for eternity

A life lived all alone

Not a soul is coming 

To her rescue

Endure her lot 

Is all that she can do

Her options are

Starve or have a can 

Of cold tomato soup

No leccy for the microwave anyway 

Stuck in her filthy flat forever

In a perpetual loop

Sue Crawford

He/him, She/her, They/them

I accept my identity as who I am.

This is who God created me to be

and I live my life

the way I am created.

Whatever I tell you I am

is who I am.

Adetutu Diana Agunbiade

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