Featured Writer for October

Esther Spurrill-Jones

Esther sent an email to me to become a writer for A Cornered Gurl because she had a piece in her drafts that she thought would be perfect for the publication and it was–it is. I have been reading Esther for at least a year now and with every post shared to Medium, she shows that her talents reach far and wide. She can do fiction, poetry, creative non-fiction, and micropoetry.

I am sure these are probably just a few of her actual literary abilities. When she’s writing, you’re reading. It’s hard not to. And for this, she is the featured writer for October. And now, the piece:


To The Man Who Told Me I Wasn’t a Feminist

“You can’t be a feminist. Feminists are anti-Christian and anti-men. That’s not you at all.”

Image created by author

I was in university. I must have been about 21 or 22. I was attending a campus Christian group/club when the topic turned to feminism. I mentioned that I considered myself a feminist. You and the woman who was leading the group turned shocked looks toward me and proceeded to tell me that a “real” Christian cannot also be a feminist. It was mostly you talking, but the woman nodded along and agree with everything you said.

To be honest, I don’t remember much of your reasoning because I wasn’t really listening. I was so shocked at what you were saying that I just stared at you with my mouth open. I probably looked like a fish. You probably thought you taught me something. You did.

I grew up in the church, so you might be surprised that I hadn’t encountered such blatant religious sexism before. I suppose I had, but it was mostly coming from old people like my dad (you were about my age), and never from women (at least not in my hearing). I was baffled that any person my age could think that a Christian couldn’t be a feminist — at least while continuing to be a Christian — and horrified that a woman could agree. I guess I had lived a sheltered life.

I had known you for a few months at this point, and I had a respect for you as the leader of the group. I lost all respect for you.

You taught me that I couldn’t trust a man just because he is a leader. You taught me that I couldn’t trust a woman just because she is a woman. You taught me that some young, university-educated Christians still believe in stupid, outdated sexist ideas. You made me even more determined to call myself a feminist.

You see, your mistake was in thinking that just because I’m a woman that I will listen to you. I don’t like to do what I’m told to do or be what I’m told to be. Like my Biblical namesake, Queen Esther, I will walk into the king’s court uninvited and ask for justice for my people. “And if I perish, I perish.”


Originally published in A Cornered Gurl via Medium.

Featured Poem of the Week

Jackie Ann

Jackie Ann burst onto the scene via Medium at least three years ago now and when she did, I was right there eager to read her exceptional work. When she asked to be a contributor to A Cornered Gurl, it was a no-brainer for me. Her work fits the publication perfectly. She has a way of hitting you in the heart with uppercuts but delicately letting you down gently. She is the perfect combination of power and sincerity and I am happy that I came across her work when I did. And now, her featured poem . . .

An Outstretched Heart

pixabay.com

I thought love
was a fragile thing, a leaf
in late September;
something you treasure
for a limited time

But my love was red
then blue
then blind,
every kind
of joy and pain;
the summit of strength
then a tidal wave
crumbling the mountain
What could be stronger
than the creator
and the destroyer
together
as one

I thought love
was destiny, a whispering wind
at your doorstep
and no doorstep is too far
to be found

But you were not born
to be found;
you were born
to seek —
to plant seeds,
to nurture the roots
and the leaves;
the emerald veins
that sprout
from fertile ground
You were born
to be the sun
that warms
its petals
and makes them reach
for your open arms

Such a tender thing,
an outstretched heart.


Originally published in A Cornered Gurl via Medium.

Featured Writer for September

Nardine

A blossoming truth-teller of Egyptian descent was recently added to A Cornered Gurl. She took a bit of a break away from Medium and she was sorely missed. I remember hosting Nardine in This Glorious Mess, also via Medium, and since her return, the strength of her words are at an all-time high. Nardine writes from the heart and there is no shame in it. What she brings to A Cornered Gurl is soul-speak, the depth of the heart, and I am so happy that she is there. And now, the work that gained her September’s feature:


the girl in the frame

a poem

Photo by Daniel McCullough on Unsplash

Late nights, red wine (I drank it hoping to be someone else)

Tall boy, sweet words (I felt his tongue against my lips and hoped he didn’t taste the insecurity)

Small house, big crowd (I wished someone would see me the way I saw myself)

(I didn’t want to go home because it was late and I’d face my mother, sitting under the kitchen light, looking afraid to find something on me she didn’t want to see)

(Sometimes I dream that the space between my body and the world has no shape and I bleed into everything, like a girl with no outlines)

On the kitchen wall of my parents’ house

is a drawing I did when I was ten years old.

The girl is sliced in half;

on one side, she smiles,

on the other, she frowns.

(How can I merge the two women inside of me? One who is daring and one who is submissive? One who is fearless and one who is afraid?)

 

I ask my mother,

why do you keep that drawing

of the broken girl up on the wall?

And she looks at me, alarmed, and says,

why in the world you would think the girl is broken?


Copyright©2019—N


Originally published in A Cornered Gurl via Medium

Featured Poem of the Week

Susan Brearly

She brings with her, wisdom, experience, and the gift of gab within various forms of writing. She is unafraid to share what needs to be shared, regardless of its content. What she has given to A Cornered Gurl cannot be described. With each piece, new eyes set their sights on our small community and there’s no doubt that we will continue to grow. Her poem Syncopation is this week’s feature.

Syncopation

Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

Ah, my heart.
Jumping, fluttering, pausing
In syncopation.

A defect, 
modern science informs.

Lying still 
hear it, feel it
Reminding
every moment
This is the SPARK

Life, the gift

Death lingers, 
lingers in the pause, the void,
between this beat and the next.

A child’s terror
Knowing.

Listen
MY BREATH, MY HEART
It stopped.

No, they say. 
Your mind, it’s there.

Again. 
Again.
Again.
Night after night.
Terror.
Certainty.
Death is near.
Death is here.

Passion’s embrace.
Remember, heart says.
You are fragile
in this flutter
in this pause
in this deep murmur, the silence in the space between breaths,
an echo chamber of the universe
that whispers, “death is near, death is here.”

Whispering, “choose . . .”
Life?
Or Death?

I choose to move.

I run.


Thanks, Jennifer Kindera for this great article

*Children who are telling you about their very real physical experiences need empathy and the full gift of your attention and time. Believe them; believe in them.


Originally published in A Cornered Gurl via Medium.

Featured Writer for August

Sara Weaver

Sara is an incredible young one and has been along this ride in A Cornered Gurl since I made the announcement to open it up to all Writers on Medium this past January. She is also a Young Mind of Medium and she and I have collaborated over the last three years on three projects and with each piece, I learn a bit more from her. To answer July’s challenge, Sara shared a letter she wrote for her boss who would be leaving her place of work to experience new endeavors. He was her inspiration.

In Goodbye (Well, Technically), Sara shows exactly why it is important to let those who inspire us know it. She shares her heart and she does it without being overly emotional. She is incredibly sound in her work and this is an indicator of that. And here, we have it–the reason for her feature:

Photo Credit to me, Sara Weaver

Goodbye (Well, Technically) Young Minds of Medium Inspiration Call

The greatest boss I will ever know has left. Here’s to you, boss.

Hey (well, now former) Boss,

I didn’t say much when you dropped the bomb that you were leaving, but I know that what I’m thinking and writing deserves some sunlight.

When you said you didn’t want to put our jobs in jeopardy I understood how much of a role model you’ve been to me. I may not understand the entirety of the drama you were involved in, but I have an understanding of the sacrifices you made for your family and us. I have always trusted that you would make the right decisions for yourself, and that trust hasn’t faltered.

Since you’re no longer a constant factor at work, there are some secrets and “thank you’s” I would love to disclose. For starters, during my interview, I faked all of it. I had tried to look up some potential interview questions that would have done better elsewhere, but I magically came up with answers, like in an SAT-pick-the-best-option kind of way, and prayed that they were the ones you were hoping for. I was super lucky and started working the next week.

Hilariously enough, I never thought I would end up in childcare; I used to think that I would never want to work with kids. The only reason I applied to work here was because I didn’t want to work in a bank, which was what my mom had suggested since she made the same move as a young adult. Now that I want to stay for as long as possible, I realize how wrong I was about kids. So as my first “thank you”, thank you for giving me a chance. I definitely don’t think I made the strongest first impression, but you were still willing to take me in, and now I realize I’m better at talking to kids more than adults.

I haven’t turned into my mom in a lot of ways, but when it comes to working through conflicts I have only seen my mom yell so I came into this job with the same tactic. However, I’ve always known that I don’t want to be that way. After seeing you work your magic, your modeling has meant everything to me, and I continually impress myself with how much I’ve improved at talking. Thank you for pulling me out of that rut and for showing me what communication should look like.

Of course, my next “thank you” goes to last year, and I know you know what I’m talking about. I don’t think I ever thanked you properly for helping me keep my head above water, and that was wrong of me. I admit that at some point I contemplated quitting because dealing with the stress was like trying to contain a tsunami in a container, and the uncertainty of how long it would last was an overwhelming thought. It was a test of our emotional resilience and we both came out on top. Thank you for believing me even when I didn’t believe myself. Thank you for being there, for listening, and thank you for staying. I had a small idea of what you were dealing with on your end, and I’m sorry you had to deal with it, too. But seriously, thank you . . . Just thank you.

For the last couple of weeks, I’ve had and heard a lot of thoughts on everything that has happened and despite it all, I am positive that you will find something else in which to excel. There is a legacy you’ve stamped on this place and none of us want to erase it. It will be impossible not to compare the new director to you; the new guy has impossible shoes to fill. Thank you for working with us, for sticking it out as long as you did. For you, we will remain resilient.

Finally, there’s something else you’ve said that I have remembered: if you could sleep at night, then you knew you made the right decision. I’ve decided if you can sleep at night, then so can I.

Thank you for always reminding us that we’re the ones with the ball in our court, I wish you the best of luck in everything!

— Sara


Originally published in A Cornered Gurl via Medium.