BRIDGET WHELAN writer

for writers and readers….

BREAD AND ROSES working class poetry competition

breadandroses-women_0308

I haven’t come across this competition before, but this is the second year Culture Matters – a collective of writers and activists – are running the Bread and Roses Poetry Award, sponsored by Unite trade union. It is free to enter and open to residents in the UK and the Republic of Ireland.

The purpose of the Award is to “create new opportunities for working class people to write poetry, and encourage poets to focus on themes which are meaningful to working class people and communities.”

You can enter up to three original, previously unpublished poems in English, each no more than 50 lines long. Entries should broadly deal with themes relevant to working class life, politics, communities and culture.

There will be five prizes of £100 each. Winners will be invited to an award ceremony in Durham on 13 July, linked to the Durham Miners’ Gala, with travel and accommodation costs paid. The best poems will be published in an anthology later in 2018

Further information available here
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Deadline: midnight Friday June 8 2018

Why Bread and Roses?
Glad you asked…One of the largest strikes in United States history began in the bitterly cold January of 1912.  Working conditions in the textile industry in Lawrence, Massachusetts were appalling even by the standards of a century ago. When bosses cut wages  because the state reduced the working week for women and children from 56 to 54 hours workers decided they couldn’t tolerate any more. They were already near to starving: infant mortality was high and life expectancy low.

Most of the strikers were young immigrant women. A speech by suffragette and trade union leader Rose Schneiderman summed up their demands in her appeal to women of all classes.

What the woman who labors wants is the right to live, not simply exist — the right to life as the rich woman has the right to life, and the sun and music and art. You have nothing that the humblest worker has not a right to have also. The worker must have bread, but she must have roses, too. Help, you women of privilege, give her the ballot to fight with.

The strike was a success. The conditions in Lawerence became a national scandal and in March 1912 the mill owners were forced to agree to the workers’ demands.

The photograph comes from The New England Historical Society website

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This entry was posted on May 30, 2018 by in News and tagged , , , , , .
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