Tag Archives: women writers

Why Diversity Matters: Atypical Plays for Atypical Actors

Feature for booksbywomen.org

“You have to see it, to be it.” This slogan seems to be cropping up everywhere in these diversity-conscious days, whether it’s about creating role models or better representation for girls, mature women, or what is increasingly known as BAME – individuals from Black, Asian, and Minority Ethnic origins. It is particularly important in the media, which supposedly mirrors our society and whose powerful imagery helps shape our values, morals, norms, and ambitions.

Moving image media, theatre, and novels help us understand the world, our feelings, relationships, and social responsibilities, playing a crucial role in communicating what is ‘appropriate’ for our age, gender and cultural heritage.

Female protagonists? No… For far too long women were harridans or eye candy, the supporting cast hanging onto the white male hero’s arm, or being dismissed as a nag and a hag. Black and Asian actor friends despaired at being cast, yet again, as the gangster/drug dealer, the ‘exotic’ princess, or victim daughter forced into an arranged marriage.

These limited and limiting stereotypes proliferate in books, on screen, and stage, and although the situation is slowly improving, these harmful ‘types’ and narratives still linger, constantly reflecting negative images of ‘difference’. Never is this more obvious, I would argue, than in the representation of impairment – part of the diversity argument we still hear little about. The desire to subvert or challenge harmful images of disability is what fired my writing Atypical Plays for Atypical Actors, published by Oberon.

Tiny Tim. Quasimodo, the hunchback of Notre Dam. Mrs Rochester, the mad woman in the attic. Captain Hook. Richard III….to name just a few. Since Oedipus, disability has been used in the western theatrical and literary traditions as a useful shortcut to signify evil, helplessness, instability, and a plethora of other negative human traits that inspire pity or fear. The images continue in films: the tormented genius, the evil Bond ‘baddie’, the blade-slashing psychopath, the victim who conveniently leaves the scene either by dying, being institutionalised, or ‘overcoming’ the condition and so ‘passing’ as non-disabled…

To read the rest of this feature, please click here

Feature originally published on http://booksbywomen.org/why-diversity-is-important-atypical-plays-for-atypical-actors-bu-kaite-o-reilly/

Mslexia poetry and pamphlet competitions for women writers 2014

Mslexia have several competitions currently open to women writers – and, below the details, I’ve put the links to some of their on-line workshops to hone those submissions before sending.











We welcome poems of any length, on all subjects – as long as they’re written by women.
1st prize: £2,000
(plus two optional extras*: a week’s writing retreat at Cove Park and a mentoring session with the Editor of premier magazine Poetry Review.
2nd prize: £400
3rd prize £200
17 other finalists will each win £25

for the best poem by a previously unpublished woman poet.
All winning poems will be published in Mslexia.
Judge: Wendy Cope
Award-winning poet Wendy Cope, OBE is a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. She has four collections of poetry published, including 2011’s Family Values. She judged the Man Booker Prize in 2007, and has kindly agreed to return to us to judge our 2014 competition.

Closing date: 16 June 2014

Competition rules at: https://mslexia.co.uk/whatson/msbusiness/pcomp_rules.php

Enter the competition at:



This competition is for short collections of 20-24 pages of 18-20 poems. To enter, you need to be a women poet who does not have full-length collection published.
1st prize: Publication by Seren Books in 2015
Plus £250, 25 complimentary copies of the pamphlet and a 10 per cent royalty on sales. One or more poems from the pamphlet will be published in Mslexia magazine.
Judge: Amy Wack, poetry editor at Seren Books
Florida-born Amy Wack has been Poetry Editor at Seren since 1992. Amy is a poet herself, and her bincluding the title Women’s Works.
Closing date: 16 June 2014

Enter the competition here: https://mslexia.co.uk/shop/pamcomp_enter.php

Not quite ready to enter? See exercises provided by Mslexia to give you inspiration and support:

MSLEXIA’S THIRTY EXERCISES FOR POETRY: https://www.mslexia.co.uk/magazine/workshops/workshops.php










As a reader of Mslexia, I’m happy to pass on details for their 2013 short story competition – and some great exercises and an online workshop to boot:

2013 mslexia women’s short story competition.

The competition is for unpublished stories of up to 2,200 words by women writers.

1st Prize: £2,000 plus two optional extras: a week’s writing retreat at Chawton House Library* and a day with a Virago editor**

2nd Prize: £500

3rd Prize: £250

Three other finalists win £100 each. All winning stories will be published in issue 58, the Jun/Jul/Aug 2013 edition of Mslexia.

Judge: Janice Galloway

Closing date: 18 March 2013

Mslexia have provided some writing exercises and advice on the form on their website:


If you would like a little extra inspiration, you can now listen to the haunting and moving 2012 winning story, ‘What goes around’ by Tamsin Cottis, at Short Story Radio: mslexia.shortstoryradio.com