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Home Explore Standing Proud Poetry Anthology 2020

Standing Proud Poetry Anthology 2020

Published by holly, 2020-09-29 12:18:38

Description: This book is the result of The Word Association’s first Standing Proud writers’ course – six months of weekly writing workshops aimed at the LGBT+ community of Worcestershire and their allies.

The project was supported by Worcester City Council and The Elmley Foundation (who allowed us to extend the project in order to help combat the isolation that many suffered as a result of the Covid-19 crisis). This book features a collection of poetry and prose from a talented and dynamic collection of writers.

Featuring the work of: Oliver Bliss, Elizabeth Joy, Sophie Ridge, Colby Wren Fierek, Kathryn Brice, Steve J. Martin, Nicola Longworth-Cook, Becky Leonard-Dixon, Chris Cox, Dawn Wright, Lydia Sofia, Claire G.M Benson, Andrew Gardner and Jay Rose Ana.

The project was coordinated by The Word Association with support from Out2gether.

Cover image 'Shout' by Amanda Bliss


Read the Text Version


Standing Proud Stand up and be counted Stand up and be heard Stand up in all your glory Standing out through your words Stand out with your story Stand out with your truth Your voices are strong now You’re living the proof I’m proud that I know you Feel blessed for times shared So proud of the times fought Despite societal snares You’ve all got a history Rich, deep and strong You wear your own colours You’re righting the wrongs You came with hearts open Willing to share Listening, supporting Each soul laid bare We’ve bonded through friendship Connected through words We stand stronger united Standing out from the herd I stand here before you My heart full and loud You’ve moved and inspired me We’re all Standing Proud... Holly Winter-Hughes

INTRODUCTION I couldn’t mention this project without talking about Nicola Longworth-Cook. Nicola is the founder of Out2gether, a wonderful social inclusion group that brings members of the LGBT+ community in Worcester and South Worcestershire together. We met on a previous writing course of mine and Nicola not only fell in love with poetry, but it quickly transpired that she had a great talent for writing it. We decided to offer a course exclusively for members of the local LGBT+ community and their allies. Nicola’s enthusiasm and support meant that the word spread quickly and from our first meeting the group was well attended. She only intended to come along to the first session to show support, but enjoyed it all so much that she is still coming six months later. We are immensely grateful for the support shown by Nicola and Out2gether as a whole in enriching this project and contributing to its success. Facilitating the Standing Proud Writers’ Group has been a real honour. Participants came from all over Worcestershire with varying levels of writing experience and differing levels of trepidation. The group quickly bonded and has become a vibrant, dynamic and exciting creative hub as well as a genuine safe space where we have all been able to share, support, listen, learn and heal. The course was originally scheduled to last ten weeks, but when the Corona pandemic struck we moved online and kept going. Over the weeks the group grew in size, as well as confidence and I have been moved, inspired and humbled by the work produced. The group continues to meet and write. Several participants have performed their work at virtual spoken word events around the UK, and many are working on their own collections of poetry and other books. The need to get their stories told and voices heard is strong and something we are honoured to continue to support. Since the start of the course, as well as writing the work

you see in this anthology, we have also created a collective film poem in honour of the NHS, were involved in Loud & Queer Arts Festival where we produced a film featuring several individual performances from participants of the group – all of which were interpreted by BSL performer Ciaran Stewart. We are also currently putting together a body of work to release in time for Hate Crime Awareness Month and have created a second anthology about LGBT+ experiences of lockdown called ‘Rainbows Behind Glass.’. All of these projects can be explored through the Word Association website. As the ambition, creativity and friendship within the group grows, as does my sense of pride. Not only do these remarkable individuals inspire me with their creative flair, but the compassion and support that has been shown amidst these uncertain times has been deeply moving. Lifelong friendships have been formed and individuals who were simply looking for something different to fill their Saturday mornings have become writers. We are immensely grateful to Worcester City Council and The Elmley Foundation for their support in helping to fund this project. Holly Winter-Hughes, Co-founder and director of The Word Association and Standing Proud project facilitator. The Word Association is a collective of writers and artists from different backgrounds who are passionate about using art to make a social impact, offering free writing workshops and publishing opportunities to marginalised groups. Out2gether is an LGBT+ charity who promote and support the wellbeing of LGBT+ people and those affected by LGBT+ issues in Worcester and South Worcestershire.

First published in the United Kingdom in 2020. © The Word Association 2020 Each poet has asserted their right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, 1988 to be identified as the author of their work. All rights reserved. This book or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express written permission of the publisher except for the use of brief quotations in a book review. First published in the United Kingdom in 2020 by Bite Poetry Press. First Edition Cover image ‘SHOUT’ by Amanda Hickling Design by Gerard Hughes Printed and bound in the UK by Biddles, Castle House East Winch Road, King’s Lynn PE32 1SF

STANDING PROUD ANTHOLOGY 2020 Featuring the work of: Jay Rose Ana, Elizabeth Joy, Sophie Ridge, Nicola Longworth-Cook, Colby Wren Fierek, Kathryn Brice, Steve J. Martin, Becky Leonard-Dixon, Chris Cox, Dawn Wright, Lydia Sofia, Claire G.M Benson, Andrew Gardner and Oliver Bliss. Produced by The Word Association with

CONTENTS 15 JAY ROSE ANA 16 Free Fall 18 Something I Need To Say 19 Please Collect Your Label 20 Trickling Through Your Fingers 21 Children Love Rainbows 22 I Am Not Confused 23 Impasto 24 Dear Love 25 The Devil To Pay 26 Welcome To Transphobia 27 Say It Again 28 The Lost Sea 31 ELIZABETH JOY 32 Making A Blanket With My Terminally Ill Mother 33 Baby At Goliath Falls 34 My Child 35 Fear 36 Section 28 38 Bad Advice - Part One 39 Bad Advice - Part Two 40 Directions 41 Finding My Voice/Becoming Me 42 Unrequited Love 43 She 44 Lipstick Pink 45 Before I’m Lost To Time...

47 SOPHIE RIDGE 48 Lost 49 Yellow 50 Thankyou 51 Missing Piece 52 Hope 53 Truth 54 Pain 55 Darkness 56 Journey 57 Message 58 Perpetual 59 One 60 Normal 63 NICOLA LONGWORTH-COOK 64 A Coming Out Memory 65 A Bomb Explodes 66 London Pride - July 1998 67 Isolation Past 68 After The Assault 69 Safe Space 70 Let This Be The Healing 71 Queer 72 Beautiful Thing 73 Masks And Rainbows 77 COLBY WREN FIEREK 78 A Letter To My Younger Self 79 Battleground 80 Internalised

81 Overalls 82 A Bright Spot 83 Reminders 84 A Collection Of Colours 85 Ideas 86 Downpour 87 Crafted 89 KATHRYN BRICE 90 Lost In The Movement 91 I Am Gay 92 Black And White 92 Labels 93 The Artist 93 Pride 95 STEVE J. MARTIN 96 Playing With The Original Pride Flag Colours 97 Matthew Shepard 98 Pride 99 1992 100 Black And White Destroyer 101 Café 102 Can’t You See It? 102 Cat 103 Hurt 104 Local Shop 105 Red 105 The Message 106 The Pride That Never Was 107 Waiting 107 Cushion

109 BECKY LEONARD-DIXON 110 My First Pride 111 The Flag 112 The Protest 113 Imposter Syndrome 114 Internalised Phobia 115 2019 116 Erasure 117 Fetishized 118 Pride 119 My Role Model 121 CHRIS COX 122 Prospect Cottage 123 The Errant Cyclist 123 Shapka 124 Tranquility 124 Lockdown Haiku 125 Freewrite From Week 11 126 Two Metres 127 Easing Of Lockdown - Haiku Triplet 128 “One Of Our Hens Is Missing” 129 “I Can’t Breathe” 129 Haiku Inspired By A Photograph 131 DAWN WRIGHT 132 Why 133 The Nightingale 134 Zoom 134 Logos 135 Alphitomancy

135 Two Bees In A Bubble 136 So Brave 136 Tony Lumpkin 137 Dear Joyce 137 Maltesers 138 The Key 143 LYDIA SOFIA 144 Day One 145 I Am The Art 146 The Cliffs At Durness 147 You Won’t Even Know I’m There 148 Origami Swan 149 Bathroom Hack 150 Tick Box 151 Two Crescent Moons 152 The Bibliophagist 153 Learning To Swim 155 CLAIRE G.M BENSON 156 Telling My Parents I Am Gay 157 Society Fears 158 Your’re Not Alone 159 Boxes 160 You Were There 161 Before We Meet 162 The Struggles 163 Does It Hurt? 164 Wishing Toilets Were Unisex

167 ANDREW GARDNER 168 A Fussy Queen On Grindr 170 Eli 171 Encounter 172 Flavoured 172 Rainbows 173 The Fiancé 175 ANONYMOUS 177 Leather Pride 179 OLIVER BLISS 180 Mother And Son 183 To Me At Sixteen 195 Kindness 196 Worlds Beached On Our Endless Shore 200 First Rain Of Summer 201 A Silent Plea 203 Arctic Fox 206 Sheltered In A Vast Flat Nothing


JAY ROSE ANA (She/Her) Jay is a transgender woman, and mum, living in Worcester. Her poetry focuses on her experiences transitioning from male to female as well as positive mental health. STANDING PROUD 15

Free Fall Gasping for breath, I can hardly breathe, plummeting down, through a chasm of doubt. In gravity’s hands, I entrust my fate, the beautiful silence of free fall, my only escape. Pushing free, from this self-made prison, cold and tired, end this derision. Lost in a fog, on the precipice edge, a footstep away, the memories dredge. A cry, a shout, a doubt. “Stop, there is another way!”. A single voice, a signal in noise, “I know how you feel, you’re not alone”, they shout. Another step forward, another glance down, “I know that feeling of doubt!” “Take a chance with me.” “A brief delay.” “Don’t go, stay”. “I stood where you are once,” “There are no answers,” “it’s a veiled lie.” “The only thing that matters is your own will to try.” 16 STANDING PROUD

“I will walk with you, I know how you feel,” “let me tell you this, those feelings aren’t real.” “Life is full of promise, of love and of hope.” “There will always be days when you feel you can’t cope”. Stay I did, they helped me through, We were there for each other when we both felt blue. Drawing closer, filling every day, every moment, in every way, Until that night, they threw themselves away. STANDING PROUD 17

Something I Need to Say Sit down, just here, my love, I have something I need to say, I have been trying to find the words, and I have been putting off today. I need you to take a leap of faith and begin to understand, I am out of my comfort zone and I really need to hold your hand. I have wanted to say so many, many times, I trust you, I love you, I am yours and you are mine, But recently something’s been off, we have both said it many times, But I believe in you, it is time for the truth, so please let it all out, Be brave, my love, I will stay calm, it may not be easy, I may swear, but I will not shout. We have seen together so many years, shared laughs, shared tears, Through sunset and moonrise, we shared our hopes and our fears. I know you may not be ready to hear but this web of truth is spun, It is time to say those words out loud, and once said, they cannot be undone. You have something to tell me, that at least, I think I know, It may take some time to sink right in, so my feelings may not show. But from today take strength from me, as I have many times from you, Take a deep breath, gather your thoughts. When you are ready, I’m ready to listen to you. So, sit down, my love, sit here, I want you near, I need you close by, If it all gets too much, I am here, I will hold you, do not ask, when you cry. I know you have held this burden, its cost a high demand, But I want you know, I need you to know, that I am ready to understand. 18 STANDING PROUD

Please Collect Your Label So, you are trans? You must be gay? Or a lesbian? What is it today? I need to describe you in just one word, My brain is confounded by the ideas it has heard. You do not fit in my list? Of things that are two. Girl or boy, man, or woman, which one are you? I do not understand the things that I fear, Oh, that is it, you must be the queer! Wait, I think I get it, I think I might see, The problem is not you; the problem is me! We are unique individuals and we come together as WE, And what we represent, is our right to live free. This a promise, from me to you, That if you listen to me, I will listen to you. Do not be afraid, because together we might find, That truth be told, we are all one of a kind. STANDING PROUD 19

Trickling Through Your Fingers Can you see me? Standing in the crowd. Can you hear me? Quietly shouting loud. Can you spot me? Standing, proud and tall. Can you help me? When I fall. Will you hold me? When I am sand. Will you remember me? Did I help you understand? 20 STANDING PROUD

Children Love Rainbows I would like to say, life is black and white, But dysphoria is not even shades of grey. I would like to express what is on my mind, But, to be honest, I am afraid to say. I would like to say life is red, green, and blue, But that would be unfair on every other hue. I would like to say how it feels to be me, But the person inside you refuse to see. A tincture of blood, pushes me out of my zone, Another fist comes, it is an overtone. I pick myself up, washed in the pigment of me. A saturation of hate, like no one ever should see. I brush myself off, confused, life goes on. Is this love, or is this fear, how long will it go on? My body adds a purple, my soul adds a blue. When you next see a rainbow, my tears made this for you. STANDING PROUD 21

I am Not Confused I am a woman, I am not confused I am fed up of feeling used. You drag me out when you need a voice, I no longer have a choice. I am a woman, cannot you see Not a man, how hard can it be? I do all these things to help you understand, But you still will not hold my hand. I am a woman, it is not a charade, So why do you put me on parade? I am happy, how I am, Why do you insist I am still a man? I am a woman, can’t you see? All you see is LGBT I am not a letter; I am a word. A fellow human, one of the heard. I am a woman, I do not give a damn, Say it again, give all that you can. I am a woman, I know who I am, Love yourself, be kind, if you can. 22 STANDING PROUD

Impasto When I am done and when I am gone, Your expression of me will be the truth that remains. The craft of your hand, The focus of your eye, The steadiness of your breath, The openness of your mind. Let this reflection remain. Connect with my soul, a whisper in the air, Select your canvas with extra care. As you paint gently, let there be no rush, Layer after layer, let the colours blush, Our unique palette, upon your brush. For the colours you select will be the colours of us. Let the colours remain. And when you frame this painting, please take extra care. For the outside of me, over time, may need a little repair. And when you show this painting, I would like the world to know, That I found myself in the world, A world of colour; no longer bathed in grey. Let this portrait remain. STANDING PROUD 23

Dear Love Dear Love, I have gone. I am not sure why, But you need to carry on. Please look forward, not back, be happy, do not cry. I felt it coming, and I know you did too, I cannot say the moment when I knew it was true. Our paths have uncrossed, Our futures untwined. You need to go your way, and I need to go mine. Please do not hate me, I could stay, but we both know, That the best of us, when all is said and done, faded long ago. I feel so selfish, unanchored, naked, thinking of just me. But please understand it is the truth of my life, I am no longer whom, or where, you need me to be. So, dear love, I have gone. I am heading out alone, towards new light. Please do not hate me. We tried, But in the end, We both know, We are no longer right. 24 STANDING PROUD

The Devil To Pay For god sake someone tell me, how I spirit away, These thoughts that always tell me tomorrow’s another today. But in the street, you probably, would not give me time of day. So, another day goes by, these thoughts, pushed out the way. But, if you were to tell me, perhaps, sometime today, That the only day I could have, would indeed be yesterday. Then, to be honest, I may be inclined to say, A fond farewell, adieu my friend, before I gladly slip away. So, let these words be true, my confession, through this essay, That I will live for today, come what may. And the demons that haunt, I will try to keep them at bay, Through the passing of time, hour by hour, day by day. So many years, in denial, life frittered away, Time after time, each a red-letter day, While the cat was away, the mouse did not play, The chips simply fell, wherever they may. I once took a deep breath and blew the cobwebs away, And through the falling dust, I glimpsed the light of day, Now, I swear I will save nothing for a rainy day, I will give you my love, or at least, meet you, halfway. It can take a whole lifetime, to find out the hard way, That life is right now, so get yours underway. Forge day after day, Rome was not built in a day. Stone by stone, is how you pave the way! The only one standing in one’s own way, Is one’s own shadow, shackled in feet of clay! Take heed from my words, do not fritter your life away, Do not wait until tomorrow, or you will have the devil to pay! STANDING PROUD 25

Welcome To Transphobia Sticks and stones, The saying goes, May break my bones, But in their headlights, my fear froze. Then, I lose myself, sitting in a ditch, All I can think is today’s a real bitch. Driven off the f*ing road, Watching them point and goad. Hateful laughter and names, pointed directly at me, How to respond? Why will they not, just let me be? And not even my phone, Can help this feeling, I am alone. Then two cars pass on by, Hope lost, they drive on, they see my cry, As I watch them go, frightened, I wait, Whilst these bullies have their fun and decide my fate. And then they are gone, Speeding away, as fast as they begun, And my throat feels sick, And of names, I can say this, They hurt me. 26 STANDING PROUD

Say It Again Say it again, say it all again, if you want, then shout, Really make sure you miss nothing out. I want to hear it all, shout it loud, every variation, Hold nothing back, more than words, gimme the whole sensation! Come on, give it to me, is that all you got? I am still here, I am still standing, is that your lot? Dig deeper fool, I can take all your rot, I have taken it before, I will take it again, come on big shot! I want you to feel, how it really feels to be you, And to hate, such hate, come on, you have got it in you! Let it all out, I am standing right here, let’s really get raw, And when you are done, start over, I am ready for more. And when you run out, when your well runs dry, I will sit with you, hold your hand, rest your head whilst you cry. You are not the first, and you will not be the last, I am one with my soul, your hateful words, will never get past. STANDING PROUD 27

The Lost Sea Today I read some tweets discussing my right to exist. More specifically transitioning from one gender to another. I have always believed I am not transitioning to anything at all. I am simply becoming me, who I am, who I was always meant to be. I see television programmes discussing if people like me should be allowed. Often fuelled by people I have never met, an angry mob, an uninformed crowd. People with no idea of who I am, nor a care of the impact of what they say. And yet I see how they behave, how they are afraid, want to lock me away. They seem to think they have a right to look down upon me. To make judgements about me, with blinkered eyes they do not see. What they refuse is what makes the world beautiful to me. I am not like them, they choose hate. They will probably win, a false hypocrisy. If they succeed, standard issue will be the norm, beautiful things, lost to memory. A world bathed in grey, no more colour, no beauty, just insanity. Then they will turn on each other and blame anything out of consistency. Until they are left to wander alone, blaming a dead world, for a dry sea. Hope remains, a bud will emerge, from the dust of the old tree. A hint of colour, pushing hard, to rise through the remains of the dead city. In its bloom, new beauty stands tall. It never died; it is for eternity. For those who hate, there is time, to change your mind, end this absurdity. 28 STANDING PROUD



ELIZABETH JOY (She/Her) Elizabeth has been writing poems since a child and is rediscovering her voice. Her poems are reflective of a journey, but also an arrival. STANDING PROUD 31

Making A Blanket With My Terminally Ill Mother The blanket is of comfortable blues, Of sky and cornflower and shimmering sea, Moving to grow into turquoise and greens, A patchwork of squares flourished in yearning, For future companionship harshly denied. Of emerald sea glass dulled by time and wear, It sparkles and shines in our ocean of words, Recollections bring comfort tenderly wound, Constructing a space for imminent sorrow, A place for the tears and forget me not blues. Time holding the shears she unravels the yarn, Years slip through fingers, but memories stay close, The passage of thread forms strong nurtured stitches, Clasping our stories of love and regard, Crafting a hug that wraps us tightly within. 32 STANDING PROUD

Baby At Goliath Falls Under the trees, In the shaded light, Dappled sunlight falls through the canopy, Sparkles like stars on the ground Around my feet, As I amble over them. The air smells divine. We breathe it in deep, Nourishment filling our lungs intensely. Past decay and new growth Along our path, Connecting us together. And your eyes look up, Wide and transfixed. Watching the silhouettes against the sky, Dancing and sparkling, Under the spell of the breeze. You snug, as I hold you close. STANDING PROUD 33

My Child I love you Like Jelly Tots. As far as the moon and back and there again, Repeat to infinity. Like the smell of a cake baking, Filling all space up. Like standing in the rain, Soaked through. Like being wrapped In a duvet hug. 34 STANDING PROUD

Fear In one garden Many different songs, Sounding for dawn, day and dusk. Many choruses merged Seemingly as one. But each one inside A voice their own. Each one their own Purposeful focus, On nest building, Pounding for worms, Impressing their beau, Ignoring one cat. It’s one that sits in silence Watching for a chance, To pounce and destroy The queer bird. The others are oblivious. STANDING PROUD 35

Section 28 My dad once said, I was his favourite child, And I persuaded him to write that down On the back on an envelope. The only paper I had to hand, A brown bill envelope. Empty of the bill and waiting for its journey to the bin, Which I interrupted and repurposed, And saved in my tin of nice things Under my bed. My dad once said, Government writes its policies On the backs of envelopes. What he wrote for me was the nicest thing I’ve ever had written on the back of an envelope. I felt invincible and brave and indestructible and very loved. Yet my path for love was paved by others in front of me. Through formative years of Catholic schooling, And then Section 28 silencing the teachers Of my rebellious teenage years. For girls like me, Thatcher’s streets were paved With the prospect of gold and dick. My dad once said, Life’s what you make of it but it’s not always possible To get exactly what you want. By 16 I didn’t think being lesbian was an option. It was too taboo and too dangerous and too unspoken In a curriculum of mummy and daddy. Anything else was hidden in a tin underneath my bed. I felt fragile like a butterfly Crafted from the back of a brown paper envelope, My wings clipped and walking the well-trodden ruts 36 STANDING PROUD

Signposted before me. Unable to fly out of that path’s depression. My dad once said, I could be whoever I wanted. He loved all his children as if we were each his favourite, Unconditional and accepting. But his voice was blown away and singed by the culture of hot air outside, And the purpose of a law that was loud and clear, But crafted as well as one Written on the back of an envelope, That should have found its way to the bin years before it did. STANDING PROUD 37

Bad Advice - Part One She said It’s just a phase Perfectly normal All girls feel this She said It’s just safe love A way of expressing All girls explore this She said It’s not practical You need a man To make babies She said It’s not you Give a boy a go You might find you like it She said Marriage is good Settle down Be normal 38 STANDING PROUD

Bad Advice - Part Two He said What I needed Was a good seeing to. A taste of his dick Would set me right. STANDING PROUD 39

Directions Enter headfirst. Fill your lungs and announce the commencement of your journey. Climb up the slope. Increase your height and wonder at all that now lies around you. Look straight ahead, Decide you don’t fit and it’s not for you. Glance right, Notice what’s there and reject it. Turn left, Mark the ground with an X for compassion for your fellow humans. Meander for a bit until you reach the fork in the road. Decide. 40 STANDING PROUD

Finding My Voice/Becoming Me It is like dancing in glorious sunshine, A freedom unrestrained with space and no restrictions. To be who I am and to know who I am Is the greatest liberation from the restraints of what others think I should be. It is to break free from the words that bound me In the privilege and prejudice of others, who think they are entitled to define me like themselves. They speak in loud voices - What they think is best for me, What they think I should be, What they think is right and wrong for me. Well, fuck them all! I will be grounded in the earth and free to flow where I desire. I will inhabit the sky and its vastness that has no limits. I will be sunshine and rain and storms. I will own them all and not apologise. I will raise my voice above their din and be heard. STANDING PROUD 41

Unrequited Love I see her and flips turn inside my core, As if I am descending too quickly, Encased inside a lift. She fills up the air, It’s claustrophobic. So close, her warmth radiates to my skin, As if my smarting goose bumps will ignite, Sending longing airborne. Exposing true me, With a confession. Tumbling to the ground I fear the hurt, As if I am shattering bones to ash To censor out our gap. Embers obscuring My embarrassment. We chat with voices that provoke the air, As if breaking a storm to extinguish My unsaid feelings. I remain smothered, But can breathe again. 42 STANDING PROUD

She She Dark raven hair cascading in iridescent curls, thick past her sturdy shoulders, frames her pale square face. Mouth smiling and bright with ruby shine, looks at me with eyes dark green as a forest I’d like to explore. She Sinking into my mattress, forming valleys either side of her into which her untamed skirt flows. Solid and comfortable, her ease guilds my room in a calm serenity, broken only by my beating heart. She Sits and talks, chatting plainly and flooding the air with indigo words that slay the silence. I long to move close and feel the air of her voice, brush my skin and permeate my core. She Beautiful like a rainbow, and when my life is rainy, there she is in all her glorious colours. She is the sunshine that doesn’t deny the sorrow; but shines none the less through the rain, and creates something beautiful from it. She STANDING PROUD 43

Lipstick Pink She is hot pink, Aglow with abundance. Self-assured and confident. Powerful. Exquisite. 44 STANDING PROUD

Before I’m Lost To Time… Before I’m lost to time… I want to dance Playford in a Jane Austin dress, With a girl. I want to shout obscenities off a cliff, carried, Far by wind. I want to stand in stormy rain and let it, Soak to skin. I want to drive fast and reckless, discarding codes and, All the rules. I want to dip my feet in the sea and feel steady as the waves, Shift the sand. I want to hold a bonfire in my hands, built from all, Life’s sadness. I want to breathe out unrestrained, clouds full of peaceful spirit, From within. STANDING PROUD 45


SOPHIE RIDGE (She/Her) Transitioning in more ways than one. Writing poetry for the first time has helped her make some sense and offload her feelings. STANDING PROUD 47

Lost Feeling like I am on a castle parapet in the night. High atop the world, but robed of my freedom by the suffocating curtain of fear. Slowly tracing the textured stone with outstretched feet, I edge forward through the void of darkness. Hoping to meet the reassuring verticality of the raised edging stones before the finality of the drop into another realm. Willing the ever-distant beacon of light to envelop me, to validate me. But I do not control it, it controls me. 48 STANDING PROUD

Yellow Sitting in a yellow room, enveloped in its light, does it emit it, bright and glowing, or does it steal it from the world? As I leave and switch off the light, am I plunging the world into darkness, or releasing that light to others? Is the quickly fading glow, an end, or a beginning, In that moment between times, am I here or not? As the filament finally cools, I know that I still exist, Even if people cannot see me, for what I am, I am still valid. STANDING PROUD 49

Thankyou I just want to thank you for the choices that you have made. Your life was what a lot of people would consider easy and yet you made the unbelievably hard choice and you lost everything. But you know what, sometimes you have to lose everything to find yourself. Like on a foggy day the world is still there, it is just waiting for you to find it and find yourself. Stepping into the unknown is so hard because it is just that, unknown. But all that really means is you just cannot see yet how much better things are going to get. You will make it, not because you are strong, but because you have friends who will help you and you will keep putting one foot in front of the other until you get to where I am now. Because at the end of the day, you can have everything, but if you are not happy in yourself, you have nothing. 50 STANDING PROUD

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