‘My writing is my activism. Writing is like breathing.
I do it to stay alive as well as to feel alive.’
Una Marson (1905-1965) was a writer and the first black woman presenter to be employed by the BBC, working there from the 1940s. I found out about her through this fascinating documentary: BBC iPlayer – Una Marson: Our Lost Caribbean Voice And check out her poetry, especially Little Brown Girl and Black is Fancy. An introduction to Una Marson’s poetry | The British Library (bl.uk)
Of course, my life has been very different to Una Marson’s, however, the quote above really resonated with me. ‘My writing is my activism.’ Yes it is for me too. I rarely go on marches these days – though I was once tear gassed by the French police on an anti Front National rally. I am involved in various non-governmental organisations, especially ATD Fourth World UK – All Together in Dignity to Overcome Poverty (atd-uk.org), and I give money to others, but my writing is the place where I mainly explore the issues I feel passionate about.
Recently, I have been asked if my Donna Morris novels (https://www.hive.co.uk/Product/Kate-Evans/A-Wake-of-Crows–The-first-in-a-completely-thrilling-new-/25544314) are too political and too didactic. I find these questions difficult to answer.
I came to political consciousness through the feminism of the 1980s. The idea that everything is political and the decision not to discuss something is as political as the decision to do so, remains paramount for me. Plus I write what I would want to read. I want to read things which open me to differing worlds and perspectives.
Or do I? Apart from as background for something I am writing, would I want to read a novel from the point of view of someone who supports Nigel Farage?
Apparently we all want to live in an echo chamber these days. And it is true, that I have grown weary of arguments with people who hold views which are completely opposed to mine. In the past, I have found these energy sapping and, quite frankly, a waste of time. How many opinions have I changed? People are as entrenched in their silos as I am. I think maybe only experience changes views. Perhaps if Suella Braverman spent a night in a detention centre, she would behave differently?
However, it’s worth noting, there are studies which show that reading can increase empathy for people who have different life experiences from our own. So hopefully, if I do my research right, my writing could at least have that effect.
Will I lose some readers through revealing my political stance too readily and clearly? Do I care? I’m not sure that I do.
If you want the chance to question me further on this or anything else, then I would love to see you at Newcastle Noir, 11th December 2022, 2pm, The Bloody White Rose: Newcastle Noir 2022 Tickets, Fri, Dec 9, 2022 at 6:30 PM | Eventbrite