Thoughts on The Hate U Give

Inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement, Angie Thomas’ The Hate U Give tells the story of Starr, who witnesses her innocent best friend Khalil being shot wrongfully by police in her home of the “ghetto” of Garden Heights, and how she struggles to find her identity between her home and the suburban high school she attends. It describes how she handles her grief and how she deals with the legal enquiry to his death as the only witness to the incident.

Thomas gives a painfully honest account of what is happening in America today, covering police brutality, gang violence, and the need for oppressed groups to band together and stand up against the ongoing injustice facing minority groups from the perspective of those who have been impacted by this directly. It highlights the reaction of her majority white school to Khalil’s death and the large gap that exists between their experiences and Starr’s, particularly when they organise a protest against police brutality so that they can leave school early rather than to honestly support the cause, labelling him a drug dealer and a gangbanger instead of focusing on the good he did for Starr and his family.

Starr’s gradual move into activism is key to the book, where she eventually becomes part of the Black Lives Matter protest, speaking out both at events and on national television about her experiences. It shows the power that individuals can have in situations like these, where only one person like Starr has to stand up against an injustice to inspire many others to join their cause and the impact this can have on a wider scale despite the consequences this may have.

I feel like The Hate U Give is more than a young adult book and is an important read for everyone, particularly people who haven’t experienced a situation comparable to Starr’s as it gives the reader a real understanding of the pressures girls like Starr must face on a day to day basis.  The Hate U Give is a true reflection of today’s society and, although written for a young adult audience, refuses to sugar coat its issues to make it seem like less of a big deal. I think that readers of all backgrounds could take something from The Hate U Give, where black culture, institutionalised racism and its implications, cultural appropriation and society’s internalised racism are all presented in accessible ways.

For me, The Hate U Give is one of the best new releases I’ve read so far in 2017, and I hope that it (and the upcoming film adaptation!)  will inspire many other readers to take a stand and fight for what they believe in, just as Starr did.


If you liked this, you might enjoy

  • In Our Time: Memoir of a Revolution – Susan Brownmiller
  • The Bridge Called My Back: Writings by Radical Women of Colour – Cherrie Moraga and Gloria Anzaldua
  • Seeing Red – Kathryn Erskine



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GWL Autumn Programme 2017 Out Now!

Autumn 2017 Programme Cover showing one of the stone carvings of a woman from the Library's facade

Our Autumn Programme 2017 is now available and you can pick up your copy of the beautiful printed brochure at GWL, take a look on our website, or download a pdf programme to find out all about events and projects happening this season.

Glasgow Women’s Library has been making cultural and creative waves since its launch in 1991. With our gorgeous home, life-changing projects and unique Recognised Collections there is so much to celebrate as we conclude our 25th anniversary celebrations in this special anniversary issue #4.

We’re trying to make our programme as accessible as possible and with this in mind we’re delighted to present our programme in two brand new formats. Below you can download your copy of a large print version of our programme and there’s an audio version for you to listen at your leisure. If you have any thoughts or suggestions on these new formats, or on accessibility in general, please do let us know.

Large Print Autumn Programme 2017

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PODCAST – All Women Poetry Slam 2017 – Jo Gilbert

On Friday 9th June this year, we had a rousing and raucous time at our 2017 All Women Poetry Slam hosted by Carly Brown at the Out of the Blue Café in Edinburgh.

For those of you who missed the Slam, we are delighted to feature podcast recordings of some of the poems we heard on the night.

2017 All Women Poetry Slam Winner Jo Gilbert

Jo Gilbert, the winner of the 2017 Slam, is a new writer and performance poet from Aberdeen. She is currently a Writing Practice and Study MLitt student at the University of Dundee. Having just finished a collection of contemporary Doric poetry, Hings beginnin wi P, Jo is now working on several short stories, a novel and her dissertation.

In this podcast, you can listen to a recording of Jo reading her winning poems, My afternoon slumps at work are haunted by an evil spectre, Pain, Pish and Patriarchy and Where the shiny things are.

The poems are also available as PDF downloads below.

Please note that the featured poems may contain explicit language and sensitive themes.

Our thanks to our partners Edinburgh City Libraries, the Bonnie Fechters, the Harpies, Fechters and Quines Festival and the Out of the Blue Café in Edinburgh for their part in making this year’s slam such a huge success!

My afternoon slumps at work are haunted by an evil spectre
Pain, Pish and Patriarchy
Where the shiny things are


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Thoughts on Are You My Mother?


Alison Bechdel’s second memoir, Are You My Mother?, explores her relationship with her mother and her quest for her to understand their relationship. It discusses her experiences of therapy in her attempts both to understand herself from a psychoanalytical perspective and the way she and her mother interact with each-other.  It also covers her parents’ relationship, and her mother’s marriage to a closeted gay man as detailed in her first memoir, Fun Home.

The memoir itself is not only that of her mother and an exploration of her personality, but also an exploration of Bechdel herself. She constantly tries to analyse herself and her mother, through her study of Freud and the meaning of dreams, as well as comparisons between their favourite writers (Woolf for Alison and Plath for her mother) and how this interlinks with her life and her further exploration into psychoanalysis. Bechdel is not afraid to expose herself in a more vulnerable way, with candid descriptions of her time spent with two different therapists and their impact, as well as the effect of this on her love life. It also shows the struggle she faced in writing and coming to terms with her first graphic memoir, Fun Home, using this primarily as a way to explore her mother’s reactions to her work and her persistent struggle with the feeling that she will never succeed in her field.

Although very similar to Fun Home, Are You My Mother? seems to explore her relationship with her parents in a more analytical way. With her father, she is able to understand some of the reasoning behind his decisions due to the way in which he has to live. However, she seems to have less of an understanding of her mother’s behaviour which could explain the fact that she stopped kissing her goodnight at seven, and Bechdel’s desire to obtain her approval. It shows the true extent to which she has struggled to produce her work, and the toll this has taken on her.

Through Are you My Mother?, the journey Bechdel has taken to come to her point of understanding with her mother is clear. It is obvious in the interactions she details that their relationship was unconventional, although ultimately her mother was determined to provide her with as much as she could in a way in which she could manage. If read with Fun Home, it shows the reader that even the most unconventional families are not necessarily entirely different; they all want the best for their children, and give them this in the best way they can.


If you liked this, you might enjoy

  • Fun Home – Alison Bechdel
  • Persepolis – Marjane Satrapi
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What are oral histories and why are they important?

Scottish Womens Aid protest

As our oral history collection draws to a close, today’s blog explores why oral histories are so important, and how you can continue recording them after the Speaking Out Project.

Our wonderful volunteers are currently completing the final transcriptions of the oral history interviews conducted last year with women who have been involved in Women’s Aid in Scotland over the past forty years.

As this important part of the project draws to a close, we thought now would be a good time to remember why oral histories are important, why we decided to collect them for the project, and, if you’d like to, how you can keep collecting them in the future.

So what are oral histories and why is it important to record them?

Oral histories have been described as ‘the first kind of history’. They’re the passing on of knowledge, memory and experience by word of mouth. They can take the form of anything from folklore, myths and stories passed from person to person, to a formal interview about a particular event with someone that is recorded and kept in an archive as an historical resource.

They’re a way of gathering, recording, and preserving a diverse range of personal experiences that generally are not well documented in written sources or traditional history in Western society. Their personal nature makes them a great primary source for people wanting to discover more about a certain event or era, providing an insight into the impact events had on the people alive and involved.

The Speaking Out Project’s oral histories

We felt oral histories were the perfect way to collect and honour the memories and stories of women who have been involved with Women’s Aid in Scotland. Oral history interviews focus on respecting the interviewee’s experience, and empowering them to tell their story on their own terms without fear of being judged – something we felt matched the work of Women’s Aid in Scotland.

We have a selection of snippets from the project’s oral history interviews available to listen to here. The full interviews will be added to the archive in the coming weeks at months at Glasgow Women’s Library, and can be accessed from there.

You can read more about our volunteers’ experiences of collecting the oral histories here and here.

How can I keep gathering and recording oral histories?

One of the best things about oral histories is how straight forward they are to gather – you don’t need any previous experience, very little equipment is required, and they can be as casual or formal as you like. To get an idea, have a look if any oral history projects have already been conducted in your area – Scotland’s Rural Past and the British Library are good places to start.

If you’re thinking of starting an oral history project or having a go at doing an oral history interview, there are plenty of great, free resources to get you off to a good start – check out these ones from Scotland’s Urban Past, the BBC, and the Samuel Proctor Oral History Programme.

If you would like to join a project or get a bit more experience before striking out on your own, keep an eye out for opportunities – next month, Glasgow Women’s Library is seeking volunteers to help record memories of the library at their event ‘Saying Their Name: Honouring the Women Who Have Made GWL’. Get in touch with Gabrielle if you’re interested!

If you’d like to know more about the project’s oral histories or have an idea to continue collecting the stories of Women’s Aid in Scotland, please get in touch – we’d love to hear from you.

Happy recording!

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This Week At GWL: Project X: Dances of the African Diaspora. A Chance to Try Something New!

10th August 5:30-8:30pm and 12th August 1:00-3:30pm.

Are you interested in learning about the history of rap/hiphop? Have you ever wondered about the roots or development of dancehall or tap? Have you ever wanted to “step” out and learn some new moves? Well, this is certainly the session for you! Join us on Thursday and/or Saturday as we welcome the hugely talented Erick Valentin Mauicia and Eva Goudiaby, respectively, to the library for exciting evening and afternoon lessons of traditional and contemporary dances from the rich and far-reaching African diaspora and a chat about their cultural connections and impact.

In the Thursday evening session, accompanied by live drums and a lively, uplifting atmosphere that’ll be sure to leave you wanting more, Erick will lead us through a dance workshop featuring and celebrating both contemporary and traditional West African moves and rhythms. In the Saturday afternoon session, the energising presence of expert instructor Eva Goudiaby will spur you on as you build on what you learned in the Thursday session and jump right into learning one of her signature joyful and fast paced Senegalese dance sequences. Be prepared for an enthralling, maybe even a bit sweaty, night!

With the roots of his passion and expertise buried in the distant, rich cultures of the West Indies and African Guinea, Erick came to Glasgow by way of an esteemed journey through Paris, where he gained a certificate in Performing Arts at The American Dance Centre in 1982 and Moscow, where he taught Modern and Afro Jazz to dancers from The Bolshoi and Moiseiv Traditional Moscow Ballet in 1989-90. After settling here, he’s since co-founded the Ayawara West African Dance and Percussion Ensemble and has expanded his teaching skills to include delivering lessons in African drumming and music classes at Dance House Glasgow.

Eva Goudiaby is a proud native of the colourful, vibrant Casamance, Senegal. Growing up in the fast-paced capital Dakar, she became part of Ballet Fambody, only the second ballet of the Ballet National de Senegal. Shortly after, Eva was selected to be one of the renowned dancers of the AfrikaAfrika movement and subsequently came to Europe, where she toured for many years before eventually settlling in Glasgow, where she now teaches and performs regularly.

The influence of African traditional rhythms and movements in the native dances of several countries and cultures are widespread and long-ingrained. Dance forms such as the Rumba, native to Cuba, and the Samba, native to Brazil, among many others, have been undeniably affected by this wide diaspora and elements of old styles of African dance can be found in South America, the Caribbean, Europe, Asia and America in both older dances, newer ones and within current popular music.

This event is for women only, and ages 16+. The event is free to attend but please book as we expect high demand. You can do so on our website or you can call us on 0141 550 2267. If you have booked a place and are no longer able to attend please let us know so that we can make your place available to someone else.


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Recruiting volunteers for two roles

Three volunteers sitting round a table laughing while reading messages on a "sharing tree"We’re looking for volunteers for two rewarding and exciting roles and are keen to hear from women from diifferent backgrounds, walks of life and ages, whether you have experience or not.

  • Front of House Volunteer: a hands on role for someone who loves meeting people and who would like to play an active role in welcoming visitors and ensuring they get the most from all the things GWL offers.
  • Seeing Things Volunteer: this role involves organising and leading group visits to see art and culture by women, perfect for someone who loves organising, socialising and sharing their interest in the arts with others.

Please click on the links below to see a full description of each role.

Front of House Volunteer Role Description

Seeing Things Volunteer Role Description

We will offer training and support for both roles and refund your travel expenses (up to £5 per day). You can find out more about our volunteer programme and read about past and present volunteers’ experiences on this page of our website.

If you are interested in either role please complete the Volunteer Application Form and return it to the Volunteer Coordinator Gabrielle Macbeth (contact details below).

Or if you have any questions or would like more information about either of the roles before applying please don’t hesitate to contact Gabrielle: or 0141 550 2267

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August’s Digital Book Group Read: Sleeping on Jupiter by Anuradha Roy

Sleeping on Jupiter Book CoverThe next title as part of our GWL Digital Book Group is Sleeping on Jupiter by Anuradha Roy, winner of the 2016 DSC Prize for South Asian Literature. This is a stark and unflinching novel by a spellbinding storyteller, about religion, love and violence in the modern world.

A train stops at a railway station. A young woman jumps off. She has wild hair, sloppy clothes, a distracted air. She looks Indian, yet she is somehow not. The sudden violence of what happens next leaves the other passengers gasping.

The train terminates at Jarmuli, a temple town by the sea. Here, among pilgrims, priests and ashrams, three old women disembark only to encounter the girl once again. What is someone like her doing in this remote corner, which attracts only worshippers?

Over the next five days, the old women live out their long-planned dream of a holiday together; their temple guide finds ecstasy in forbidden love; and the girl is joined by a photographer battling his own demons.

The full force of the evil and violence beneath the serene surface of the town becomes evident when their lives overlap and collide. Unexpected connections are revealed between devotion and violence, friendship and fear, as Jarmuli is revealed as a place with a long, dark past that transforms all who encounter it.

How to Get Involved

We’ll be posting updates and related content to this blog. You can find all of the posts so far here.

On Twitter, keep an eye on the #GWLBookGroup hashtag for all related tweets and please do share your own thoughts and insights. We’ll be running two Twitter chats around Sleeping on Jupiter at the end of the month on Wednesday 30th August at 1pm and 7pm. These chats will feature the same starting questions but you are welcome to join in on both.

Facebook Group

On Facebook we’ve created a new closed group where we can gather all of the content and discussions. To join, simply request to join the group and we’ll approve your request to give you access.

Questions for the Author

Anuradha Roy has very kindly agreed to answer some of our questions! So get thinking as you read the novel and if you have any questions you’d like to ask the author, simply send an email to and we’ll send them on.

Happy reading!

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Introducing our new Heritage Engagement Officer!

In this post, our new Heritage Engagement Officer, Susie Dalton, introduces herself and talks about what she’ll be working on in the project.

Hello! I’m Susie, and I’ve just joined the Speaking Out Project as the Heritage Engagement Officer. This is a new role for me, but this isn’t my first blog for the Speaking Out Project. I’ve been a volunteer on the project since spring of last year, and have written about my experiences as part of the filmmaking team, then as part of the educational resource group. It’s a great feeling to now be writing this blog as an employee of the project.

I’ve worked in communications and heritage education for years, but when this role came up I was actually pursuing another passion, doing a pottery apprenticeship in the Highlands. Three of my friends sent me the job description on the same day, all accompanied by variations of ‘This sounds like your dream job’. They were right!

I had recently helped to organise the Audacious Women Festival in Edinburgh, and this role seemed like the perfect way to continue celebrating and empowering women in the fight against gender inequality. As well as being a committed feminist, I love working with communities and heritage, and of course, I already knew the Speaking Out Project well, having been a volunteer for over a year. I’d had such a great experience with the project already, and loved working with the team, so I was delighted when I was offered the role.

The project concludes at the end of this year, so what I’ll be focusing on between now and then is its legacy, evaluation of its outcomes, and ensuring that it’s wrapped up in a suitably celebratory fashion. Speaking of celebrations – have you registered for our Speaking Out Celebration Conference yet? It’s on the 2nd September in The Steeple, Dundee, and it’s completely free. Lunch and childcare is provided, too!

I’ll also be putting together the project publication in the coming months, with input from project volunteers and partners. We hope it’ll be a valuable resource for people who want to further explore the themes of the project, and to continue recording and celebrating the achievements of Women’s Aid in Scotland. Keep an eye out for the launch this autumn.

It has already been such a privilege to be part of this project, and to meet and work alongside incredibly inspiring women. I’m delighted that I get to keep doing so, and to have the opportunity to contribute to the project’s final stages. Keep up to date with all of the exciting events we have planned over the next few months on our Events Page.

If you have any questions about the project, don’t hesitate to get in touch with me by email or by phone (0131 240 0315).

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One Month at GWL

Last month I left my familiar student life in Germany behind to spend this summer as an intern at GWL.

Exchanging my university schedule for real life work experience and moving to a different country was definitely an exciting but also nerve-racking experience at first. Scotland welcomed me with a sleepless night in an Edinburgh hostel, some authentic weather consisting of non-stop rain and the shock of realizing that Glasgow basically feels like New York to someone who grew up in a small town.

But now, one month and many cups of tea later, I can safely say that the journey here was more than worth it.  Everyone who steps through the doors of the library is greeted with so much enthusiasm and warmth that this place instantly feels like home. Volunteers and interns are valued as part of the team which is something that I wasn’t used to after hearing (and experiencing) too many horror stories of internships that mostly taught people how to make good coffee. Instead, everyone here is encouraged to contribute to all the different aspects of the library and learn from each other in the process.

What’s not to love about this?

All of this constantly reminds me in strange little ways of our anthropology department back at university. I fell in love with this study program and the people who are part of it almost three years ago. In very general terms, anthropology deals with all the different aspects of human nature – the way we communicate, interact and perceive the world around us. It has completely changed my perspective on everyday life and also basically involves people-watching for science – could there be anything better?

As such an open discipline, anthropology opens up so many career possibilities that it’s probably the closest thing to “I want to try so many different things that I can’t decide” that you can find.  This is why after searching for an opportunity abroad for what seemed like ages, finding GWL and actually being offered a spot here felt like hitting the internship jackpot. So many things that I love about anthropology are reflected in the way the library works that it’s no wonder that it feels so much like home.

For example, anthropologists rely mostly on what we call “qualitative methods” – this means that we conduct interviews, focus on case studies and take a close look at individual perceptions of reality. We participate and temporarily become part of the communities we research, always aiming to actually give a voice to the people and places that we observe instead of simply speaking for them.

In a similar way, the collection of books and artifacts at GWL was not simply put together by a small group of people with a certain budget or authority. Instead it consists of donations from many different women and men and has grown organically over the years (and is still growing). This means that it is actually a very real representation of women’s lives instead of the perspective of an outsider or a small, privileged part of the community it is supposed to portray.

There are so many other similarities that I could probably ramble on about them for days. Celebrating difference, valuing individual experiences and perspectives, including everyone regardless of their background and telling the stories of people like you and me are some of the principles that initially drew me to anthropology. Seeing these things reflected in the everyday work at GWL is something that makes me incredibly happy.

It feels good to know that an organization can run smoothly and successfully while actually standing by their values instead of just using them as advertising. Everyone is simply nice to each other and it really makes you wonder why it can’t be like this all the time. Gathering work experience in such a positive and supportive environment is incredibly valuable as an intern and I look forward to the next few months full of smiles, books and cups of tea!

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