‘Other Women’s Kitchens’ – Mslexia Poetry Pamphlet Competition Winner

I’m delighted to announce the publication of my debut pamphlet, ‘Other Women’s Kitchens’, by Seren. It’s available for purchase from the Seren Books website for £5 here. I’m hugely grateful to Seren poetry editor Amy Wack, firstly for selecting this pamphlet as the winner of the Mslexia Poetry Pamphlet Competition, and then for making the whole process of publication such a smooth and joyous one.

This pamphlet gathers together poems written over a four-year period exploring themes of coming out, falling in love and finding a sense of community. The beautiful cover art is by Kate Winter, who responded with great sensitivity both to the poems themselves, and to photos of my parents’ kitchen, in creating the paintings that grace the front and back covers.

I’m fascinated by kitchens – for me, very often the rooms where the most interesting and significant conversations happen. When searching for a title for this pamphlet, it struck me how many of the poems in it are located in kitchens, or in kitchen-like spaces, or make reference to food. There’s the makeshift kitchen in a wicker barn where Anne Lister and her partner Ann Walker brew tea and coffee on the last day recorded in Anne Lister’s diary. There are the married women who ‘came home hungry, smelling of lentils’, after their encounters in a supermarket car park. There’s ‘tea with the lady mayoress’ in a found poem sourced from an old edition of the Girl Guide Handbook. And then there’s the kitchen as the location of a first date – probably just the sort of kitchen, complete with ‘individual chocolate mousses’, that my younger, uncertain self would have been delighted to know was waiting for her in the not-too-distant future.

It’s very exciting to have my first pamphlet out in the world. I hope these poems find readers who will savour them.

These are tender yet fierce lyric poems about self-discovery and coming home to oneself against all odds. I was struck by the emotional truths at the core of Binney’s debut pamphlet, reminding me of vital queer memories ranging from coming out to stepping into Gay’s the Word for the first time.

Mary Jean Chan

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