Speak Up

This brilliant poem is here to remind us that pessimism is for lightweights

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Kayleigh Dray
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Salena Godden's Courage Is A Muscle

Read it, print it, laminate it and send it to all the wonderful women in your life.

Stylist guest editor Laura Whitmore wants to encourage us all to speak up and speak out – and it is a goal shared by award-winning poet Salena Godden.

Godden’s latest work, Pessimism Is For Lightweights, was published by Rough Trade Books in July 2018 – and is made up of 13 pieces of courage and resistance. One of these poems is Courage Is A Muscle, written for the Women’s March and performed in Trafalgar Square at #March4women in March 2018.

Here, she explains why she decided to share this poem with Stylist readers as part of the Speak Up initiative.

“It is dedicated to every person using their muscle, their voice, their platform, their art and their energy to speak up and stand up for all of our human rights,” Godden tells us.

“This one is for all the Nasty Women of the world. It is for every single one of you who attended the Women’s March. And it’s for the amplification and empowerment of women.”

The poet adds: “When a country elects leadership that does not protect or speak up for the human rights of the people of that country then we will be forced to unite and rise up to do the vital work of protecting ourselves, ourselves. 

“I share this poem with love and with solidarity.”

Courage is a Muscle

Courage is the muscle
we use when we speak,
if we’re being talked over
and told we’re too weak.

And when we get weary
and when it gets tough,
it’s our united courage says
Enough is enough.

Courage is the muscle
we work night and day,
to get equal rights
to get equal pay.

Our blood is taxed
our blood is shame,
our courage unites us
for we all bleed the same.

Courage is the muscle
we flex when we must,
courage is the muscle
for truth and for trust.

Courage is the muscle
we use when we speak,
if we’re being walked over
and told we’re too weak.

And when we get weary
we march side by side,
100 years, we’re still marching
with courage and with pride.

Salena Godden
Salena Godden

Rough Trade Books is an exciting new publishing venture in the mould of the pioneering record label. The poem ‘Pessimism is for Lightweights’ is currently a public poetry art piece and is on display outside the Arnolfini Gallery, Bristol.

For one day only on Monday 13 August, Laura Whitmore has taken over stylist.co.uk and transformed it into her very own Speak Up platform – a digital initiative which aims to shine a light on the day’s most important headlines, challenge the status quo, spark debate, encourage conversation and, above all else, champion women’s voices..

For similarly inspiring content, check out Laura Whitmore’s show on BBC Radio 5 Live.

Image: Getty


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Kayleigh Dray

Kayleigh Dray is Stylist’s digital editor-at-large. Her specialist topics include comic books, films, TV and feminism. On a weekend, you can usually find her drinking copious amounts of tea and playing boardgames with her friends.